The Bitch Slap: I Hope You Never Need Help

image via Creative Commons***Disclaimer: I am in a Snark Locker at present. It is not that time of the month. Nor have I been scorned by a lover. My dog did not eat my steak dinner. Sometimes the moon and planets align in just the right way that the slappin’ hand cocks like a shotgun and all hell flies. Enjoy…or kiss my ass. Either works.***

You. In the burgundy Prius. Yeah. At the stoplight. Move your fucking car. Apparently you made it to the age of consent (or so the tits spilling out of your halter top would indicate, otherwise mom and dad were especially kind to get you a matching set for your 16th birthday) without being eaten by your parents or incarcerated. You also apparently made it to the DMV to get your drivers license. Between now and then, did you forget to move the hell out of the way for emergency vehicles? Let me run it down for you.

It’s Mother’s Day. We’re sitting at a stoplight in Boulder, Colorado. It’s in the low 80s – quite beautiful. While at a dead stop, sirens peal from…well, we don’t quite know, do we? So when the goddamned light turns green, that is not license for you to bolt out into the intersection, especially if an ambulance is coming through from the left.

Your job isn’t to beat the ambulance through the intersection. It’s not to win the race through the stoplight. It’s to get the fuck out of the way.

I really hope you never need help one day, because that could have been your mother in that ambulance. Worse, it could have been you. And wouldn’t it be all sorts of karmic goodness if some oblivious dipshit pulled their Prius out into the middle of the intersection and blocked your ambulance from reaching the nearest hospital in a timely fashion?

This goes for police cars, fire trucks, school buses and funeral processions as well. While I admit that I single-handedly support the photo speeding enforcement program in the greater Denver/Boulder area, there is something I never, EVER do: block an emergency vehicle. Yes, I know how frustrating it is to sit through two cycles of a light because a fire truck had to come through. I know how annoying it is to wait five minutes for a funeral procession to come through a metro Denver intersection because someone can’t keep all the cars together. I know (full well) how painful it is to get stuck behind a school bus unloading when you’re running late to hop on a conference call back at the office.

But you know what? There is nothing in life that cannot wait for people helping other people.

And yeah, if you’re the dick who honks at me as I’m handing the guy on the corner a few bucks or half a sandwich when the light turns green, I hope you never need help, either. I would rather put my car in park, get out, stand outside the driver’s door and flip you the double bird until the light turns red again than become a self-centered asshole who forgets what it’s like to need help and give it freely. And I don’t give a shit what they’re going to spend the money on. Those people with the cardboard signs are people, just like you and me. Who are we to judge who they are and where their lives have led? I will roll down my window and have a light-long conversation with anyone with a sign. They will get $1 from me so long as I have it. They can have every box or bag of leftovers in my car on my way home from lunch or dinner. And you, dickhead, will wait behind me while I give them this one small thing.

So sit down and think about why you’re rushing from place to place. Why your schedule and needs and whatever are so goddamned important that you can’t take a minute and remember that everyone, no matter how rich, poor, fat or thin, beautiful or otherwise, will need help one day. If you can’t take a minute to help someone when they ask, why should anyone ever help you? Karma is a complete bitch and I’m not one who deigns to understand why this universe works the way it does, but I do what I can to help.

I pull over to let ambulances and fire trucks through intersections.

I change lanes to give police cars in the median and on the shoulder more room.

I remember the last time I sat as a member of a funeral procession and how much it hurt.

I share my change, food and bottled water with anyone who humbles themselves to ask.

So move your fucking car. Roll down your window. Stop pretending like you’re talking on the phone. Pay attention. Lend a helping hand. What’s annoying in one circumstance is life-changing in another, and if we focused more on changing lives and being involved, yeah. We’re gonna hurt more, but do you really need to get through the intersection right then? Do you need that leftover Thai food?

If you can’t do that (and do it more often), I really hope you’ve found some magic potion that ensures that you or someone you love will never, ever need help. Karma is a senseless crack whore, and one thing I’ll never sign up for is a beating from a crack whore.

You’ve been slapped.

88 comments
Keith
Keith

How is a funeral procession "people helping other people"? In fact, given that funeral processions cause blocked intersections and snarled traffic, aren't they guilty of the same thing the Prius girl was: selfishly expecting the world to revolve around them? What about the ambulance that can't get through the intersection because a funeral procession is moving through it, and unable to "make way"? What about the police officer stuck behind a funeral procession on a two-lane highway unable to pass because oncoming traffic is also stopped, and thus unable to reach the scene of a domestic abuse call until a mother has been beaten to death? I think you'd do well to reconsider where funeral processions fall on the scale of "selfish" to "helpful", in light of their consequences.

The Redhead
The Redhead

No sweat and you make a great point :) Appreciate your willingness to speak up.

Bsmirchd
Bsmirchd

This was a beautiful and thought-provoking piece. I don't mean to hijack its message, but I noticed that two commenters brought up herpes in a way that bothered me enough that I feel I have to respond. Michelle: "Rather than wishing herpes on them or that their grocery bag falls apart..." Jody Fisher: "I wish they all get herpes." Thanks, Erika, for at least saying, "I wouldn't wish herpes on anyone." Folks, one out of 5 people in the US are HSV positive -- and I bet I'm not the only one here. Fifty to seventy percent of unmarried women between the ages of 45-50  have genital herpes. The thought that intelligent, sensitive people would refer to herpes as if it contracting it is some kind of karmic punishment brings tears to my eyes -- and makes me kinda mad. Herpes is a skin condition. Not a moral indictment. 12 Reasons to assume everyone has herpes: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2011/04/10-reasons-herpes/ Erika, I am posting this under a different username than I usually use, because I use that one for twitter and AIM, and there is still an inordinate amount of social stigma surrounding herpes. Maybe that makes me a coward. I'll happily "out" myself to you over private email.

LynetteRadio
LynetteRadio

Decades ago a cousin of mine was an EMT & while in an ambulance driving to a home got stuck behind a guy that decided to stay in their way and not leave room to pass.  Karma is a bitch - as it turns out the ambulance was driving to the guy's parents home, his mother had a heart attack.  She wound up dying, probably because that asshat slowed down the ambulance so much it took an extra 10 minutes to get to the house.

JC
JC

As ever, Erika, an awesome read.  You're my long-lost twin.  My funnier, wittier twin.  Those that fall into this category are also the ones who talk on their phones (LOUDLY) in restaurants, litter in parks and pick their noses in the car behind you, unaware that you can see them.  I pray to God that I never become so important in my own mind that I forget that others really can, and should, often come first.

Kim Humes
Kim Humes

I love this post - here, here to you! I see this kind of thing happen all the time and it boggles my mind. Some people think they are the only people on earth or the best people on earth, one of the two, and there's no need for it. This reminds me of when drivers speed through a left-hand turn even though there are pedestrians crossing that have the right of way because they don't want to wait 20 fucking seconds for people to cross and miss the light (god forbid). Or drive right through crosswalks even when they see me standing there waiting because they are just too rushed to stop and let me go (by the way jerks, I KNOW you can see me, don't act like you don't). And I also see this kind of behaviour lmost every day on the bus. The other day a man got on using a walker and no one at the front of the bus got up and gave him a seat! So instead, he had to sit in the first row of seats facing the front and there was nowhere to put his walker except in the aisle so no one could get through to the back of the bus! Now that was sort of his fault too, he didn't have to block the aisle, but he didn't have much choice. Like, seriously people is it really that important for you to sit at the front?! The guy had a goddamn walker for goodness sake. How clear of a message of "get off your ass" do you need? I would have moved, but I was a few rows back and he wouldn't have fit with his walker where i was either. Sigh, I don't understand it. I wish I had enough guts to stand up in those situations and tell those jerks to move their asses

Kellie J. Walker
Kellie J. Walker

It applied yesterday (during the tweet chat) and it applies today: A-fing-men. Go get 'em, Red.

Queen Bitch
Queen Bitch

You have my undying devotion my friend!

Denise
Denise

The ones that infuriate me are the big rig truckers who ignore that they have 40 something thousand pounds pushing them & they are in such a hurry that they NEED to drive over the speed limit with the compact car; with small children in the back seat, in front of them, literally trying to push the car out of their way. Never mind that 4o something thousand pounds of death is pushing them into the back seat with the children should the lady who is driving hit her brakes for any reason. As long as they get their load where it has to be & the next one picked up who cares if they endanger children & other Humans lives, it is all about the money. Yes I used to own a trucking company so this really gets me going. Please maintain a safe following distance, that is all.

Amy H
Amy H

Corollary: If I politely and urgently pull over for emergency vehicles and the like, I also want to send a mental bitchslap to the jerk behind me who may or may NOT have pulled over, but decide to take this opportunity to PASS me. WTF? I am not talking about someone's family member following the ambulance in their car, but the jerk I KNOW was in the car behind me. Can't we all wait our turn like civilized human beings?

KH
KH

Love it. I went to college with a guy who used to brag about how he never stopped/moved for emergency vehicles because he had as much right to the road as they did. Then right at the end of a semester, he got broadsided by a firetruck as he tried to beat them across the intersection. Karma's a bitch.

Michelle Gower
Michelle Gower

While I certainly agree with the overall point of this post, here's my two and a half cents: 1) 9 out of 10 offenders don't think it's them. These are the people who think that we are their childrens' babysitters and their personal assistants. Our job is to make their life easier. And they will always coexist with us, so all we can do is be compassionate towards their blinding ignorance. Part of being stupid is not knowing how stupid you are. 2) we've been conditioned for some time now to have a sense of (mind-boggling to the rest of us) entitlement. Last summer I was at the hot tub at the gym. The sign clearly said 12 and up. So, of course, some mother of the year lets her 8 year old in the hot tub. As I got out I made sure to read the sign slowly to make sure I wasn't the retard. Well, she knew enough to know I was doing it because of her, because she told me it was "not your fucking problem, so don't worry about it." Hmm. Aside from the fact that I pay good money to the gym to NOT deal with children - all I could tell her in response - NICELY, I may add - was, "you are absolutely right. It's not "my fucking problem." In fact, I'll make a deal with you: when I see her in here again, also without you supervising, and she gets burned, or slips and falls under, or is harmed in any way that the gym is trying to avoid by putting that sign up, it won't be "my fucking problem" then, either. How does that work for you?" I then alerted a lifeguard to get her out. Sorry, rules are rules for all, not for 'the rest of us.' She was flabbergasted that I would call her on her shit, and dumbfounded that we would ignore her and her kid when the rules were being broken, but not when there could be harmful consequences to be paid for it. 2.5) Rather than wishing herpes on them or that their grocery bag falls apart, tempting as it may be, I make it a practice to wish awareness and compassion and enlightenment on them, preferably in a non-painful manner. I'm not being all woo-woo here, but for me, I'd rather they become aware than become immobilized. That's the reason they act so silly to begin with.

Brian Watkins
Brian Watkins

So right. No matter how inconveniencing an emergency vehicle coming through might be for you, the person in the ambulance has had a much worse day. Take two minutes and let them get the help they need!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Great way of saying, it Sarah. "Penciling in some time for compassion." Since we seem to ink in everything else :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Always great to see you, Michael. And please, link me back to this if I ever start getting to head-saucy. :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Heh! Maybe some of that helps Denver, too :) Great seeing you, Patti.

The Redhead
The Redhead

While I would never wish herpes on anyone, I would hope that perhaps later in the day, the bottom fell out fo their bags of groceries.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'm confused, Misty. All sides are welcome here, but here's where I think you might be confusing my use of metaphors with my literal meaning. Let's see: 1) I said karma was a homeless crack whore. That's a metaphor. Though there might be one out there NAMED 'Karma,' she's not the subject of this post. Also, I judged the FUCK out tof the teen in the Prius for acting like a fucktard and blocking an emergency vehicle. I'm confident she's a perfectly nice gal with great tits. 2) Since we weren't talking about a crack whore named Karma, half this point is moot. I don't know if you've ever done any volunteering in the shelter system in any city, but getting into one isn't as easy as lining up outside (especially if you have children). And I didn't say I always give money - I make is a practice to keep a bag of apples or oranges in my car. There's a post about that here somewhere. I think it's called "Social Media on $3.89 a Week." 3) Still trying to figure out where I'm a hypocrite. Help? Your ball.

Gurl
Gurl

*gets in the amen pew* I was in a funeral procession not long ago. It touched me deeply to see others pulling over, slowing down, and so forth to pay some respect to my aunt. Life's too short to rush through it. Life is too precious not to fully live it. People are NOT a renewable resource...each is unique and should be treated with kindness. Much props for this one, you hit it dead on. Hopefully the assholes who do not use common courtesy will read and at least consider joining the human race.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I don't even know what to say to this... (blink blink)

Justin Matthews
Justin Matthews

Nice post Erika. My wife is a Nurse in the ER here and she has all sorts of stories of accidents between ambulances or fire trucks and people who will not yield. It is amazing that people are so wrapped up in whatever they are doing they miss those things. I saw a fire truck the other day stop in an intersection to make sure no one was coming before they went through. Like you said, time may be important in getting them to the hospital. These are the same people who bitch in the back of the ambulance because they are not going fast enough! Here is something else for fun, if you park in front of a fire hydrant, the firefighters have the law on their side and they can break out the windows on your Prius, BMW or big fancy truck and route the hose through your car. And there is not a damn thing you can do about it because you are not supposed to park there! The firefighters kind of like it too. One guy told me they can chop a hole through your car to access the hydrant if they need to. And I know karma is real, I stop for people on the side of the road broken down and help those walking to the gas station. I have been in the same situations and have received help the same way. This was a good bitch slap, it need to go viral.

Sam Turri
Sam Turri

Thank you for this post. I recently witnessed a pack of cars clog an intersection while an ambulance was trying to get through, and it made me want to punch a dolphin.

Tara Coomans
Tara Coomans

Freeeeking awesome. A rock'n bitch slap with my granola. First of all, I too pave the roads (literally) with the number of speeding tickets I get, but I am gape-mouth astonished when I see people who don't pull over for emergency vehicles. Where I live (Hawaii) it is a little slower paced, but that's not an excuse to pull over! And @davevandewalle:disqus I envy your pedestrian-car symbiosis, we don't have that here. We have people who confuse Hawaii for Paris and just walk into the street at any time and any place. THUS we have lots of emergency vehicle situations...because even when the car is going 35MPH, it still hurts the pedestrian when you hit them (I hear).

Charles Ohay
Charles Ohay

Confession: When waiting for a funeral motorcade to pass, I do secretly hope the guy was really unpopular.

Janine
Janine

And, by the way? When I slow down behind a bicyclist going uphill around a blind curve? No need to honk your horn, then flip me off while whipping around me. I'm not going to hit the cyclist just so you get to your latte 10 seconds sooner.

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

I've always wondered why some people are so impatient when driving...screw that...living life. Have we progressed to a society that moves so fast we can't even let humans help humans? Forget that. I'll continue to "help someone out" when I can. :)

John Trader
John Trader

Erika, can you do me a favor now that I have been slapped by this post and swing your backhand across my other cheek just for good measure? The bane of my existence and the hairy horse flies in life's soup are people who could care less for anything other than themselves and their own well being. Last time I checked, we all share this planet. Three words: GET OVER YOURSELF. As you were.

Misty
Misty

I have been following your blog for quite some time and love a girl who speaks her mind. I am very much the same. However, you have been disappointing me lately and so whether you tell me to kiss or ass or not, I'm going to speak MY mind. 1. It's okay for you to judge the fuck out of the teen in the Prius, but not okay for me to judge the homeless crack whore on the corner. Hmmmm... 2. Karma does not dictate that I need to help said crack whore get the final fix that kills her. In fact, I think Karma would look down on such a thing. Wanna give them food? Fine. Money? Whatever...not smart in my opinion, but do it if you want. Just accept that you in fact don't know why they're standing there, but if they wanted help, they'd be begging the shelter's help, not yours. I know this because my extended family is full of addicts and mentally ill people and most of them have experienced homelessness at one time or another. THAT is why you don't give them money. 3. If you are advising others not to judge, you might wanna go light on the judgement yourself. I can't celebrate your hypocracy, even if I agree with your original message.

Sara
Sara

Nowadays it seems that everyone is in a hurry. And while, yes, I am sometimes in a hurry I know that speeding won't get me there any faster because Mother Karma will have me drive past a cop who will stop me and make me even more late. She will allow me to arrive after my furious attempts only to realize that even though that light was more red than yellow, my appointment is really tomorrow not today. And most importantly, for all the things you mention, what matters most is the message I send to my daughter. That she is important and my driving should reflect that. That, as you said, we are all people and my actions speak more volumes than my words could ever fill. We lose respect for our fellow man, because we lose respect for ourselves. Kindly, Sara

Patti Winker
Patti Winker

You, Erika, are the reason Boulder is the happiest city. Keep slappin' 'em!

Corrin Foster
Corrin Foster

My husband is a paramedic who has been hit on the way to an emergency on three separate occasions by people who are too inconsiderate or ignorant to stop for emergency vehicles. It makes me absolutely livid. Not only are you impeding someone from receiving emergency care, you're putting the life of the paramedics at risk. Assholes.

Amanda Foor
Amanda Foor

I will NEVER forget the asshole who actually cut in front of me during my grandfather's funeral procession to get into a turning lane before the arrow turned red. But yeah, I hate people who won't move for emergency vehicles. How selfish can someone be?

Brad Holland
Brad Holland

Hahaha - a fucking Prius inspired that soul fetching rant of the the human condition to help. I would have gone the other way with car bombs, tire irons, and piano wire but that's just me. Entertaining read, Miss Red.

Chris Tucker
Chris Tucker

Your posts are always most snarkilicious. "There is nothing in life that cannot wait for people helping other people." I love love love this thought. I've thought it lots these past couple of weeks, primarily as it relates to the tornadoes that ravaged my home stomping grounds in Alabama recently. The outpouring of support and caring are really overwhelming. These kinds of significant events trigger our deep-down desires to be good friends and citizens. But what about the every day needs of the people around us? What about the "small" catastrophes that affect only one person or family? Shouldn't we be concerned enough to act the same toward them, with generosity and compassion? I accept the Bitch Slap because I'm simply not very good at it & need to be reminded. So, thanks again for the backhand. Snark on Redhead.

TravelnLass
TravelnLass

Two words Erika: Nicely. Done. And it isn't even for the karma (for that itself presumes there's - eventually - something in it for "ME".) Rather, hello people - it's simply "the right thing to do."

Martin Burns
Martin Burns

Got some great advice from a Buddhist monk recently: if you're on the highway, and someone comes speeding up behind you, don't assume they're a jerk in a hurry. Assume they're a parent, and their son or daughter are dying in the hospital, and they're rushing to them. You owe it to them - and, in a way, yourself - to speed them on their way. Also, if they are some jerk who thinks they own the road, slowing down deliberately to feck with them (as _good_ as that feels), just ratchets up their rage, so that when somebody cuts them off further down the road, they track them down and shoot them....

Sheenanv
Sheenanv

Nice to see someone commit to writing the words floating around in my head - well done!

D.T. Pennington
D.T. Pennington

And here I thought I was living in the "me" generation?

Jeff Mouttet
Jeff Mouttet

Nicely done. I read "another beating from a crack whore" the first time around and was going toa ask about that story. LOL!

Rick Copper
Rick Copper

nicely done. pretentious Prius people are Nazis in hippie wear.

Kim Woodbridge
Kim Woodbridge

Why are people in such a rush? As a non-driver I think something psychological happens to a lot of people when they are driving - they have a lot of power for intimidation and destruction with the 200o lbs surrounding them. And I bet a lot of them don't act this way in the other parts of their lives. And right on about what the homeless person might spend the money on. If I were living on the streets, I would definitely want a beer or something to help ease the misery.