We went to a water park this week with our three younger kids. We didn’t want to take our whole key ring, so Steve removed the key we needed. He checked to make sure it would unlock the door as well as start the car and it worked on both so we were set.
About 15 minutes before the park was closing, we decided to wrap it up and made our way to the car. Steve unlocked the car, and as all the kids started piling in, the car alarm started to go off. The people we purchased the car from added an aftermarket alarm and we’ve never had any issues with it. Until now.
We tried everything and could not get the alarm to turn off. We locked the doors, unlocked the doors, tried starting the car. Nothing worked. Eventually the alarm went off and as Steve exited the car, the alarm started sounding again. We figured our last resort would be to disconnect the battery so he popped the hood. By this point, the park had closed and hundreds of people had flooded the parking lot. With our hood up, and the alarm going off every few minutes we were quite the sight. We didn’t have the tools needed to disconnect the battery and luckily we were able to get a hold of Hallie and asked her to bring the alarm fob. 45 minutes after we first set the alarm off, Hallie showed up with the key we needed and she arrive to find us in an empty parking lot, hood up with all five of us sweating it out because even at 9:30pm it was still 106 degrees.
The next day we were recounting our unfortunate luck with Hallie and Steve and I made the observation that even with our alarm going off and our hood up in a crowded parking lot, not one person stopped to see if we were either stealing the car or needed help. Even the cars directly next to us weren’t overly concerned.
Immediately upon hearing our observation, Hallie pointed out how ironic it was to not find help in a crowded parking lot and yet when we were headed to Lake Powell and we were having some troubles while pulling our boat, we found help in the middle of nowhere. And she was right.
We pulled into the parking lot of what appeared to be an abandoned motel to check out our overheating vehicle and as we were examining under the hood, a man appeared out of nowhere. Not only did he appear, he had knowledge of our problem and had the coolant our vehicle used. He saved us.
We explained to Hallie how non-ironic it actually was. It’s referred to as the Bystander Effect. Research shows people are less likely to help someone in distress if other people are present because they assume someone else will help. In fact, the probability of receiving help decreases the more people there are. The more people there are, the less personal responsibility people feel to take action. Which seems crazy – but we’ve witnessed it on both sides – the victim and the onlooker.
Steve is quite possibly the best at finding people in distress and I’m convinced it’s because he’s always praying to help someone and he’s always led to someone in need. It’s a great example to our kids of what it means to minister to others. And having our kids be in situations where they’ve been served by strangers (and not served) hopefully fuels their desire to seek out those in need. Let’s minimize the bystander effect!