Usually at around Christmas time you tend to see people “caring and sharing.” However in many large cities this aspect sometimes takes a back seat. This morning on my way to work I saw an outlandish example of Russian “pofigism” in Moscow…
First, let’s take on the meaning of what “pofigism” is. To be honest, it’s my personal anglicized bastardization of the Russian phrase “мне пофиг” (mne pofig), which translates into English as “I don’t give a rat’s ass.” I’m sure most of us are familiar with that phrase and it doesn’t need any further explanation.
So, this morning just before 7:00, I was standing at the bus stop along with another dozen or so others. It was still dark, well below freezing and snowing steadily. Out of the corner of my eye I notice a young woman in her early 20s sitting on the bench, nicely dressed and all bundled up in a parka and hood, her small purse hanging from her shoulder…when she suddenly tilted over to her side, her head landing solidly on the bench seat and her cell-phone falling from her hands onto the snow-covered asphalt. She lay there motionless…
Around her there were three individual young men in their 20s and 30s who just looked at her, two turned to look at the traffic passing, the third continued staring at the motionless young woman, his only movements puffing on his cigarette.
I reacted. Not to those around me who seemed to not give a damn, but to the damsel in distress. Before reaching the woman, I announced loudly “that something’s not right,” hoping to draw attention from others who might not have noticed what had happened. There was no response from anyone even as I touched the woman’s face with one hand and grabbed her cell-phone with the other. She came to about 30 seconds later as I asked her if she was diabetic or if she had a blood pressure problem. She denied both of my diagnoses immediately, but said that her head just began spinning and passed out.
By this time (finally) an older woman in her 60s joined us, introduced herself as a medic of some kind, and also began asking important health questions. We talked the girl into calling someone at home to come to the bus stop and escort her back to her home (she obviously lives within a couple hundred meters from the bus stop), which she did, plus called her work to let them know that she wouldn’t be coming in today.
The entire time the crowd just stood there showing their best example of “pofigism” they could. I offered to sit with her until a family member came to the rescue, watching others board their buses, and me watching my bus loading the remaining people on the street except for the three of us (the medic was also supposed to take that bus, but neither of us even thought of hurrying to climb on board). Soon the young woman’s mother arrived and they walked toward the mass of apartment complexes across the street.
So what was everyone else thinking? I would hope that if something like that happened to me, someone would help me or at least show some sign of concern and not “pofigism.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed this in Moscow. Traveling on a bus one morning a couple of years ago, the bus came to its final destination at the subway station and all the passengers were getting off, except for one well-dressed woman who somehow just slid from her seat onto the floor. People looked at her and someone even stepped over her…complete “pofigism!” Another man about my age and I picked the unconscious woman off the floor of the bus and hauled her outside, her only signs of life being quiet moans. Yet another man our age asked what happened, and upon our report immediately called an ambulance. A police officer showed up in just a couple of minutes and got the overall details and then asked me to watch him look in her purse to find a phone or number of someone we could contact. He pulled out a small case that had serum and needles and showed a sign of confusion while pondering vocally that she could be a junkie. I grabbed the small little bottle and read it quickly and gave my “expert diagnosis” that the woman was actually diabetic and is most likely in diabetic shock, which in just a few minutes could turn into diabetic coma if the ambulance didn’t arrive soon. The medics arrived within 10 minutes and immediately began treating her, then whisked her off in the ambulance. The three of us and the policeman nodded at each other and then we all parted ways.
Another case happened in the subway while I was heading to work on a brisk spring day last year. I was sitting in the subway car, reading my newspaper when an extremely pregnant woman (I believe she was already at least 15 months pregnant if not more) sat down beside me. I didn’t pay much attention until she started swaying back and forth and then began pulling off her hat and coat while huffing, puffing and breaking out in a sweat. I suddenly had this great fear that I was going to have to deliver a child right there (raised as a farmer, I’ve helped the birthing process of many animals and once even assisted in a cesarean section on a cow in the middle of the field). Thankfully, sitting across from us there happened to be two doctors on their way to work, who stood up and escorted the woman out of the train at the next stop, seating her on a bench and one of them frantically dialing her phone. A true case of “non-pofigism!”
“Pofigism” may be inherent in large cities but where does it come from? What was the guy this morning at the bus stop thinking of? What if it were him? Or any of the dozen others standing idly by?
Whatever happened to “caring and sharing?”
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- email@example.comFascinating story about people not helping others in trouble06:25, 24/12/2011I have never encountered anything like that be it in the San Francisco Bay area, Las Vegas Nevada or Ottawa Canada.
I have seen documentaries on the lack of sensitivity of men towards children in trouble and perhaps people in trouble.
Other places that I have been in Russia, smaller towns have shown a lot of concern for the people. I was very surprised in Yoshkar-Ola when a doctor and nurse made a house call when there 5 year old boy had a headache.
It is sad when people show such a lack of concern for each other.
No wonder I couldn't get support for my "Russian Kids Art Album eBooks" from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. This was just normal Russian behaviour.
With regards to you David, DO NOT GET SICK!
If three men in their 20's to 30's will not come to the aid of a pretty 20 year old girl, they are NOT going to help a guy.
Sorry to hear about this lack of interest to help someone in need in your neighbourhood, it must have made you sad.
How can you change this?
Simply lead by example. Do not be like those other men.
- firstname.lastname@example.orgAfter reading this sad story here is a happy one23:42, 25/12/2011This is what my area of Ottawa is like in Canada. There are both bad people and some good ones. This is a story of both.
OTTAWA — The fact that thieves would steal everything from under the family’s tree was shocking. But for Deborah Denison, the really astonishing part of her day came later, when the Ottawa Police took action in a way the family never could have expected.
Denison, who lives on a farm near Metcalfe with her husband Barry, went to bed at midnight Friday night, having stayed up to wrap gifts for her family, including her four children and eight grandchildren. Even her son-in-law, Capt. Mark Norris, would be there, having surprised the family with his return from Afghanistan. Everything was ready under the tree for the big day.
When she went downstairs at 7 o’clock Saturday morning, she sensed something.
“You know how instinct just tells you something’s not right?”
Then she saw that the television was gone, and she knew. The computer was gone, too. She went to the tree and all the wrapped gifts were cleaned out. The thieves also found the keys to the family truck, into which they likely loaded all the presents and other valuables before driving it away.
Denison said it was the theft of the presents for her youngest grandchildren, which she’d picked out specially for each, that really upset her. There was the Barbie dress-up set for three-year-old Maddie, the goalie mask for eight-year-old Dawson and that very particular, hard-to-find Lego present for five-year-old Max that she tracked down after trying a number of stores.
The police came right away and were sympathetic. She had no idea how sympathetic, until later on.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, the police returned with about 20 wrapped gifts and around $600. "We wanted to make sure that they didn't miss Christmas," said police spokesperson Helen Harper.
Denison was overwhelmed by their kindness. The police constables had gone to their fellow officers, who took up the cause with energy. The police communications centre and the patrol divisions all came through, taking up a collection, shopping and all signing a card.
“It was just unbelievable what they did. Everything was wrapped and they had asked me for all the grandchildren’s names. We were crying because it was just unbelievable that they could do all that in an afternoon.”
She especially wanted to mention Const. Adam Tataryn, Cost. Sean Carrol and Sgt. Frederick St. Pierre.
“These police officers did such a good job buying gifts for them,” she said.
The officers thought of even more ways to help.
“They spoke to the manager of Future Shop and he said ‘Tell them to come and see me when they’re ready and I’ll give them a TV at cost,’” Denison said.
Beyond all this, friends and family have also been phoning non-stop to offer help and bring gifts.
It was a Christmas that could have been ruined, but wasn’t.
“Absolutely not,” Denison said. “Because it just re-enforces your belief that people are kind deep down and they just have to see something happen to somebody and they will reach out to help.”
What about the thieves, though?
Denison said she’s been thinking about that a little, trying her best to imagine their mind-frame.
“Our daughter said ‘Maybe they were worse off.’”
In terms of joy this Christmas, one way or another, it’s hard to imagine that’s not true.
What would Denison say to the thieves?
“If they need help that badly, sometimes all you have to do is ask,” she said. “There would have been a way for us to help you."
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