Picture this: you’ve just arrived at Johannesburg airport after flying in from London (an 11 hour flight), you’re super excited although you almost didn’t sleep, and you walk around with your eyes wide open – determined to take everything in.
Wow, airport security is much nicer here compared to Heathrow, you think.
And what a cool way of dressing, you countinue. Okay, find gate A23, the flight to Namibia isn’t leaving in awhile, but it doesn’t hurt to know where I’m going, right?
But when you follow the signs toward A23 and step around a corner you meet a scene that makes you forget about your next flight. A man is lying on the floor, screaming, clutching the hand of a woman. She’s not moving. Around them a group of people have formed. They’re staring, some visibly upset, some with a morbid curiosity. Why is no one helping the couple? What’s going on? Is help on the way?
You approach two women, a mother and daughter. The latter is crying and the mother is looking around, wondering the same as you – where is the help, and when is it comming?
“what happened?” you ask.
“she, she just collapsed.” the mother answers.
“is she breathing?”
The daughter shakes her head. Stunned you turn back to the couple. Just then another traveler arrives at the scene. He’s not a doctor, but he clearly knows what he is doing. He starts doing CPR, finds a bag with instruments. You know nothing he does will help if real doctors don’t show up. She needs a heartstarter. And she needs it now.
I have never seen the Bystander Effect before. I have heard of it, but never thought I would end up in the middle of it. This shouldn’t be possible. The right people should have been there within minutes, it’s a freaking airport! But it took 15 minutes. One showed up. Then it took 10 more before “the boss” came. And finally, 5 minutes later, the heartstarter arrived.
What kind of world is this?