January 14, 2009

Should a man assist a woman on her own?

Which man would be willing to give a woman on her own a lift in a rain storm?

A little while back a train service I was using stopped short of its destination and a bus was laid on to get us to its final station. A pregnant woman complained to the coach at large that she had missed her bus connection and so was stranded, not being able to afford a taxi. Now the weather turned nasty and, as I went to pull out of the car park, I saw this woman on her own at the (unsheltered) bus stop looking completely miserable so I asked if she wanted a lift home.

She got in the car and I took her home – well, nearly, she didn’t actually tell me where she lived, just gave me directions, left, right and so on, until suddenly she asked me to pull over and she ran off down a passageway between some houses.

Now, I thought I had behaved correctly, making small talk, following her directions to the letter… you know, just being a fully paid up human. She looked like she thought it was just a matter of time until I jumped on her and raped or killed her. To be honest I was glad to get her out of the car as she was making me feel very uncomfortable. And afterwards, on reflection I wondered if I really shouldn’t have bothered.

Women are always advised these days by caring friends and parents to never get into a car with a man they don’t know. And what good advice that is, too. But how human are we – forget about such niceties as to what constitutes gentlemanly behaviour, these are enlightened times… How human are we if we just abandon people who are in need of assistance that we are able to give because we are afraid of the potential threat our charity carries.

What would you do in such a situation?

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. James Taylor

    There may be an easy solution to this. From now on, drive around with an axe and some binbags on your passenger seat. If you see someone in similar distress in the future, pull over and offer them a lift – they should notice the items on your passenger seat, feel a flush of discomfort and politely decline before running away… ;)

    Joking aside though, it is a tough one. I came upon this topic of conversation with my mum once a few years ago and she advised that it’s never a good idea to offer to give someone a lift like that on the premise that, assuming you do your good citizen bit and drop them off, but between them getting out of your car and getting home someone abducts them or something but you were the last seen person inviting them into your car, you could end up being the focal point of a police investigation. A typically (for my mother) far fetched and extreme example, but a valid one all the same.

    I think in your situation I would have offered also.. but it does seem hard to do the right thing these days without it being misinterpreted! Public paranoia has made it difficult to be a gentleman in this day and age.

    14 Jan 2009, 14:13

  2. Di Strapps

    Slightly (but not very) off topic, the question of manners vs gallantry comes up a lot for me.

    If I’m going through a door at the same time as someone else, I hold it open. On occasion, a man who I’ve just let though will look at me in amazement and sometimes even comment that they don’t dare hold a door open for a woman as they’ve done so in the past and been accused of being patronising and only doing it because they were a woman.

    My response is always the same – if anyone, male or female, holds a door for me I assume that they do it because they’ve got good manners.

    Though I do confess that on the odd occasion when a person who sails through without even a nod of acknowledgement leaving me standing there like a I’m the doorman I tell myself that I won’t bother for them next time, so perhaps my manners aren’t as good as I’d like to think! Not that I’ve ever remembered to try it yet…

    28 Jan 2009, 09:25

  3. limo hire

    That’s quite a tough one.. I wouldn’t personally give the lift. The fact that she ran out seems really weird.. Unless there was a bad smell in the car.. LOL.

    31 Jan 2009, 16:49

  4. Hero

    Face it, women are weird – they either think you are their father, or a rapist – a flit between the two dependant on what you say.

    I shared a taxi with people in a european country where the language was different. The girl thought throughout the whole journey that they had been kidnapped and was even trying the door handles on the motorway.. you just can’t reason with a woman’s ability to make up reality and then try to make everyone believe that its true.

    Ever been told by a woman that ‘she knows’ you think something that you don’t?... Yup me too

    02 Feb 2009, 12:41

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