Bystander Syndrome in the Doctors.

I am always wrestling with how much I should do, when to get involved, is it my position to say something. 

Often I have dived into a situation to help, my parents default was to offer to see if someone needs help.
If there was an accident on the motorway we'd stop and see if everyone was ok.

I like this and think it is important.
Over the last few years as my inner confidence has been a bit battered I have left my headphones in more and not been looking for any "action" (not that much has happened.)

However, in the last few months my spirit has been reignited.
One very of the most special things about #supercoolwife if she won't let anything go without saying something.

There are no innocent bystanders and if someone does not speak up she will, often first.
In an incredibly short space of time she will have formulated a concise argument, motivation and go in guns blazing.
For the over five years she has been working with at risk families in one of the toughest areas in London, before that she worked with at risk women and families in Krakow and Buenos Aries Shanty Towns. 

For instance if there are three pregnant women standing on the train and everyone else is sat there looking blank she will quickly ask how much longer it will be before three of the people sat down are going offer up their seats.

Kicking off in the Doctors 
A few weeks ago I was in our Doctors surgery waiting room and the two miserable ladies behind reception were shouting at (sorry speaking loudly) to a man.

I guess he was about 30 and I think he was from Bangladesh. 

Strike One
I would have sweated it out usually. However, before I knew it I was walking towards the counter and if I'd had a pump action shot gun I would have been firing it as I went.


"Excuse me, I'm sorry, I am about to be rude and it is with full intention." I said.
"Sorry? Look Sir you are going to have to wait you turn and I'll be with you when I am done with this man."

After the event so many witty lines played through my head. I am not sure witty lines help as much as we think on these situations - they just make the story sound better afterwards.

Strike Two
"Can you stop shouting at him please?" I ask.
Nothing. 
"There are 25 people sitting here waiting and you are talking to this man like shit, are you trying to make him feel better?"

Of course now I had really lost, but I had made my point, this was seven years of listening to them scream at people coming out in one triumphant blast. 

She was also doing that stupid white people thing of shouting in English louder and louder with each word thinking that the person will understand better.

(Remember the scene in Friends when Rachel welcomes Ross' new Chinese girlfriend by very loudly and slowly saying "welcome to our country" - of course "new Chinese girlfriend" answers back in a New York accent.) Click here 

What am I doing? "Be the change you want to see"
I looked over to the cafe opposite where I could see the ghosts of Mandela, Gandhi and Rosa Parks looking at each other, more than a tad disappointed that I had stood up but then fired off. 

"We can talk about this in a minute, we have a procedure for complaints ----- Sir."
"I don't want to complain, it's not about complaints - it's about you stopping acting like a Nazi"

I retreated back to my seat. 
#babybernie and #supercoolwife emerged from the nurses room.
(Times like this having the cutest kid in the room helps.)

"Let's go and get some lunch" said #supercoolwife.
"Er, I told that lady behind the counter she was a Nazi so I better go and sort it out."
"Ok, we'll wait here or do you want us to come too?" said #supercoolwife rolling up her sleeves for a fight. so did #babybernie - this is the sort of thing I love in our little family unit.

Strike Three
So now I need to eat humble pie, I should not have been rude.
It was very unintelligent. 

She is obviously a tad unimpressed with my intervention and shaken.
That was never the intention.
A past version of me would have been feeling triumphant and righteous - hardly redeeming qualities in this sort of situation. 

I was not really sure what to say.
I dumb part of me (or maybe not) was not motivated to apologise, I felt if I apologised I was just saying it for the sake of saying it.

So I "slipped it in" "I'm sorry if you think...."
Which is a defensive apology.

Out the corner of my eye I could see Mandela was banging his head on the cafe table and Gandhi was asking him to calm down. Rosa was looking into the bottom of her tea cup shaking her head.

"If" - no point in saying this, IF you have to say "if you think" you know dam well you have - otherwise you would be able to say "I am sorry that..."
Between my swearing and her approach she was hardly going to turn around on the spot so I was stuck in my own mess.

Google to the rescue.
Mandela was now looking through his fingers at me like a stressed football manger on the sidelines of a crucial game. 

I said "sorry" again.
"If you google this surgery on the Internet" I said, (just in case they did not know where Google was) 
"There are over 140 comments about how poor this place is."
"Yes but some of them are false."
I could feel a tit for tat argument coming.....

"Maybe so, if half of them are false that still leaves around 70 pissed off people, you are hardly up for customer service of the year award!"

I'd now really lost, what I meant to convey was the opportunity of turning it all around.
If ONLY they had a twitter account I could help them.

We left, #supercoolwife already had a letter brewing.

Bystander Syndrome 
Since this incident we finally moved Doctors and I also listened to this podcast about bystander syndrome with +Jonathan Fields and this TEDxBerlin talk "Zombies into neighbours+Ariane Conrad.

Today I walk into my local station and see you 20 year old man having a fit and blood pouring
out his chin. I could not work out if the guy on top of him was a train worker or not. I was ready to call an ambulance, should I or did they have it covered?
Immediately behind me was a Doctor who offered help. I asked if everyone was OK, no one heard they were too busy, I stood back and waited just in case, I wanted to do something the station workers were all on their radios and in action.




I wish I had just called an ambulance right away, was it my business?
Who knows?
I'd rather have someone shout at me than this guy be worse off.

In the end I moved on as I was in the way and four station staff and a doctor looked in control. It did make me think at what point I should have stayed or gone.

I hope he is OK.