Sunday, July 16, 2006

Brisbane by night: Take II

During my walk by the river last night, I looked back along the path to see if there was a better photo opportunity in that direction, and saw a man teetering on the edge of the promenade. His feet were half over the river, half still on the edge, and he was swaying back and forth, looking down at the river.

And I froze.

Either he was thinking about jumping, or didn't care much whether he fell in or not, since even after one moment where he nearly lost his balance completely, he didn't move to a safer position.

Now, the river isn't very deep at the edges there, and not especially cold, although the current might be quite strong. And the drop from the promenade to the water was only a couple of metres. So if he was wanting to kill himself, he'd chosen a plan with a very low probability of success.

This was my main reason for not intervening. The other reasons were that (a) he hadn't seen me, and I was worried if I said anything, he'd be startled enough that he would fall in, and (b) he looked kind of unbalanced (in more ways than one), and there was no one else in sight in case things got unpleasant.

If I'd had a mobile phone, I would have called the police, but I'm a paid-up member of the 'I already hate all phones, why would I want to carry one around with me?' society. So instead I stood there for around ten minutes, watching him sway, thinking that at least if he did end up in the water, I could get him help fast.

Then all of a sudden, he took a step back from the edge, and walked away down the path in the other direction. Problem solved. Or maybe he'd just thought of a more effective way of doing the job. Either way, I have a nagging, unresolved feeling that someone should have done something about it.


post-doc said...

I think you did just fine. I sympathize though - I sometimes find myself walking away from situations thinking I should have done something more, though I'm grateful they didn't go terribly wrong.

It's sweet that you're thinking about him. I too hope someone helps him if/when he needs it.

Grace said...

It's possible he was just mooching -- I've known a few males who seem to be drawn to precarious spots, not for any particular reason. Something hormonal, perhaps. :-)

StyleyGeek said...

I hope that's all it was, Grace. But he really did nearly fall in a couple of times. And if he had fallen in, there was no where nearby that he could have climbed out again.