You ever seen this show What Would You Do? It’s not great art, but I do believe it performs a great service. They stage these scenarios—boyfriend publically abusing girlfriend, racist store clerk giving some darker than hims a hard time, bottom rung human being spiking a girl’s drink in a bar and then trying to take her home, etc.—and then see how unsuspecting people will react. Some people, as you can imagine, choose to ignore. Others dig in and try to correct the situation. No matter what happens, it’s a fascinating study of human behavior. And then the experts come on afterwards to talk about the proper way to lend a hand in these awkward, often potentially dangerous situations. It’s humanitarianism by way of Punk’d.

I’ve always wondered what kind of person I’d be if faced with one of those situations. Would I move on and think “not my problem?” Would I stop to help? Would I wait to see if anyone else was gonna jump in there and take care of it so I didn’t have to?

On Saturday night, my wife and I were walking from our car to the movie theater to see Fast Five (also not great art, also humanitarian [the Fast/Furious franchise keeps Vin Diesel employed and away from the little kid birthday party circuit]). We’d nearly gotten there when the man walking towards us fell straight to the ground face first.

I didn’t see it. I get distracted by the sky and things in the wind. Erin yelled out “That man just fell down!” and I took off running. I didn’t even think about it. I just ran right to him. He was a big guy. Fat, yeah, but big. His forearms looked like Pummeling Machines. There’s not actually any such thing as Pummeling Machines, and yet I have seen them. They were attached to the exhausted, very large, awesomely mustachioed man on the concrete.  I knelt down.

“Sir, sir are you all right?”

No response.

“Sir? Are you okay?” No response. “Erin, call 911!”

“I’m all right!” He spoke. He didn’t move, but he did speak. “Ah’m—I’m okay. Just need to rest for a little bit. Just need to rest.”

Odd place for a nap. “Sir, let me help you up.” He was sweating pretty hard. His glasses fell off in the fall and were lying on the ground bent and half under his face. “Why don’t you let me help you up?”

“No—nah. It’s all right. It’s all right. I’m just need some rest. Ah’ll be fine in a minute. Just a—just let me—let me…”

He faded on me and I asked him the obvious question. “Sir, do you think you’ve had a bit too much to drink tonight?” Erin, standing about ten feet away, looked horrified. I was jumping to the rude, easy conclusion.

“Hah. Yeah. Yeah, I guess I have. Prob’ly.”

“Is there someone we can call for you? Someone that can come get you?” I turned to Erin. She was talking.

“I don’t have my cell phone,” she said.  Okay…

“N-no, it’s all right. It’s all right,” the man said, still face down. “‘preciate your concern. I just need to get up now. I’m fine. Just a little tired. I just need some sleep is all. Right here. That’s all. Just some sleep. Jes’ a few minutes.”

“Sir, if you’ve been drinking then you need a little more than a few minutes of sleep.”

“I haven’t been drinking.”

“Yes, you have, sir. I can smell it on your breath. Also, you just told me.”

He tried getting up, but it took a lot more effort than he was capable of. I tried to help him, but he waved me off until it was clear he couldn’t do it on his  own. As his massive paw went into my hand and he brought a knee up, the idea that I could even begin to support his weight seemed pretty ridiculous. Thankfully, he needed less help than I could offer and he was on his feet quickly.

By now several people had walked by and witnessed the scene. Only one couple stopped to talk to Erin and stay with her. They had a cell phone and were making a call.

The man stumbled forward. “My truck’s…it’s jes’ right here. I just need to get home. Home, that’s it.” I walked beside him, staring at the keys dangling in his hand. His truck was close and, somehow, he opened the driver side door and got in. I held the door open and wouldn’t let him close it.

“Sir, I am not going to let you drive this truck. I’m gonna ask you to give me your keys now.” They were in his right hand. The hand attached to one of the two Pummeling Machines he was carrying. “Can you do that? Will you give them to me?”


“Sir, I don’t want you to get hurt. More than that, I don’t want you to hurt anyone else. Do you want that?”


“Then will you give me your keys?”

“No. Lemme go.”

He was just sitting there, in the driver’s seat, trying to catch enough winks to compose himself and drive off. No way. I thought about him taking a swing at me, but there was no way.

“Sir, I am doing my best here to not involve the police. If you try to drive this truck I will call them and I know you don’t want that. Let’s do the right thing. You want to do the right thing, don’t you? Give me the keys and give me the number of someone I can call. Do you have a wife?”




“Brothers or sisters? Parents? Uncles or Aunts?”

“No. Thank yew for y’r help. Ah’m fine now. Thank yew.”

“A friend then. Is there a friend I can call? Just give me the number and I’ll call. You don’t have to do anything except give me the keys and number and then you can just rest and I’ll take care of everything.”

“No. S’alright. Jes’ need ta rest. Ah’ll be fine in a minute.”

Okay, now I was frustrated. I’d been nothing but nice to this guy and he was just being belligerent for the sake of it. This lonely, family-less man who apparently had been conceived from out of the dust of the Earth, needed to see me in a different light or we were going to get nowhere.

“Sir, what is your name?”

“Is J.R.”

“J.R.? My name is Brock. Nice to meet you. J.R., will you let me help you? I’m someone who believes we all gotta help each other in this world, even if we’re strangers. Let me help you and let’s do the right thing together. I know you don’t want to hurt anybody. What do you say?”

J.R. didn’t see or notice it, but while I sweet talked him I stole his keys right out from under his hand. He didn’t move a muscle.

“Ah’m fine. Fine. Thank yew.”

“J.R., c’mon man. Let’s do the right thing. Give me a number of someone I can call. Let’s do it and let me take care of you.”




“J.R., you with me, buddy?”


And then J.R. fell asleep and I didn’t hear another word out of him. It wasn’t too long after that the mall cops showed up. The couple standing with Erin had called them over. They were confused as to what to do and took my information twice before a real cop showed up and got the idea of actually, y’know, helping J.R.

J.R. sputtered and coughed and drooled as he slept. I’m not a drinker myself and of the few times I’ve actually been around drunk people, it never looked like that. It was horrifying and gross to watch him try to breathe through the filth coming out of his mouth.

I don’t know what happened to J.R. after that. The police officer, who we knew from church, shooed us away once he found out Erin and I were about to be late for our movie. There wasn’t much else we could do anyway.

I’m grateful we were there. I’ve been thinking a lot more lately about how much I’m doing for other people. To help. I like helping. It does make me feel good and I’m not as lazy as I used to be. No reason my energy shouldn’t be used for the good of  others. God puts stuff like this in front of us all the time, I think.  It probably helped that I’d been looking for an opportunity and that it wasn’t somebody stranded on the side of road. (Because, cars? I have no idea.)

But, it can be scary. It’s not always clear what to do in tense situations where action is needed. I was fortunate that what to do was so clear and that I had the presence of mind to act on it without reservation. And, I’m lucky J.R. was not a mean drunk. Dude coulda’ tore me in half.

See you on Friday with Jerry, Pg. 4!