Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Would You Have Done?

Over Labor Day weekend, I had the unexpected opportunity to go to Florida. My sister planned to take my daughter to Discovery Cove to swim with the dolphins. Initially, they wanted me to go on the trip but I could not get the time off work. A few days before the trip, I could get time off work and was able book a reasonable flight.

My sister loves to travel and when she goes on vacation there is no rest. Kim calls her three-day trips “warrior weekends”. Here is a sample of our itinerary:

Day began at 3:30 a.m.
Fly from Philadelphia to Jacksonville.
Arrive in Florida by 10:00 a.m.
Drive to Georgia via an unpaved road along railroad tracks.
We bought lunch at the only restaurant in Fargo, Georgia (population 380) where they served excellent sweet tea and lemonade.
We rented a boat in the Okefenokee Swamp. On our self-guided boat tour, we saw alligators, black water, turtles and cypress trees. We were stuck in the swamp once and had to use our oars to paddle out. Our only major mishap was driving the boat into a tree. We tried to reverse and ended up going forward. (We only had a two-minute lesson on boat driving.)
Drive to hotel in Orlando (3 hours).
After a quick dinner, we went swimming in the hotel pool.
Return to the room by 11:00 p.m.

The schedule was non-stop. Whenever I travel with Kim, there are always stories to tell on our return. The stories are usually funny or silly. On this trip, a situation unfolded which left me wondering...

On Sunday night, our small group was heading to the pool. We walked along a pathway that winded around the hotel complex. It was well lit and populated by hotel guests. We heard screams from inside a room…”Help me! Help me!” The door opened and a woman carrying a toddler and a cell phone came outside. The woman walked over to us and stood among our group which included my 11 year old daughter. The woman was excited and wanted to talk to a manager. She said her husband was trying to hurt her.

The husband walked out and stayed a few feet away from his wife. He told everyone that his wife was drunk and everything was fine. I told the woman she could walk with us to the pool where there would be a hotel attendant on duty. As soon as I made the suggestion, she walked away from our group and headed in the another direction. The husband followed at a distance repeating, “It is o.k. She is drunk.” The woman walked away with the husband following her. The other hotel guests on the path or on their porch did not say anything. My group continued walking to the pool. At the pool, we looked to see if the husband and wife were on the path but they were gone.

I observed the following:
No obvious smell of alcohol.
No slurred speech.
No apparent bruises or rumpled clothing.
Woman had cell phone out and ready.
Man did not appear agitated.
Toddler was not crying.
Woman did not want to walk with us to the pool area.

What would you have done?

Approximately a half an hour later we ran into the woman and man on the path back to our room. She was still carrying a toddler. The only difference was that she had a margarita in her hand instead of the cell phone. The husband followed about twenty feet behind her.

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Sis said...

I don't get involved in other people's drama. Unless I saw blood or other signs of injury, then I would have called 911 for her.

Michele said...

I found the situation difficult especially since she was holding a toddler.

SueC said...

What a bizarre situation! I think we have to avoid making assumptions about what is going on people's lives (we just don't know what goes on behind closed doors). It sounds like this woman had some sort of psychiatric problem and her husband knew the best way to handle her i.e keeping an eye on her from a distance. The fact the toddler was not distressed suggests that it had not witnessed any violence between his/her parents. I think you sister has the best approach to dealing with this kind of situation.

Felicia said...

Tough call. I think you and your family did the right thing, but it is kind of odd that no one else in the area said or did anything. Your offer to walk her to the pool was a good one.

I'm agreeing with Sue on this one: perhaps the woman was having a psychological issue that her husband had dealt with before. The non-vexed toddler makes me think that perhaps he or she had BTDT before as well. I think you did everything you could/should have.

The only thing I might have done that I'm hoping you didn't was go back and worry about it all night! Not knowing might have driven me insane! I guess it's the nosey reporter in me or whatever...

Great post, Michele...

Michele said...

Hi Sue and Felicia!

It was a tough call. I knew something was off when she walked away after we offered to walk her to the pool. Once I saw the margarita...I knew we did the right thing.

A few years ago, a neighbor woman came to our house and asked Tom for help in a domestic situation. He agreed to walk her home. When they arrived her boyfriend and another neighbor were calmly sitting among broken items. It turned out that the woman caused the damage. You never know...

sandman said...

Man, that is such a wierd situation. Its especially difficult given that your child was there - you don't want to do anything to put her in danger - but on the other hand you wonder if their child was in any kind of danger too. I've never experienced anything like that. Kind of hard to say what I'd do, but it seems like you did the right thing.

Hawk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hawk said...

It is my belief you did the right thing. You recognized something was amiss, an infant was involved, and you intervened in a non-threatening manner. Most of our society would have just ignored the situation and gone about their business.

Though it is true that one never knows what's truly going on in a domestic situation, when a child or infant may potentially be in harms way, you have to do something.

The husband may have been telling the truth and was just keeping an eye on her. In any event, I would have probably done the same thing.

Nice Post!

BTW, thanks for visiting my small corner of the world at Koji Martial Arts. You have a great site. I am a new follower.

Roll Easy!

Michele said...

Hawk: Thanks for commenting and visiting my site!

SenseiMattKlein said...

This is a very delicate situation. In fact, more cops have been killed getting involved in domestic disputes than any other call. I would probably prefer to leave it to them, but in this case you made the right decision. Sometimes we have to step in when a fellow human is in need.