Has society been getting a lot more self absorbed?

A bit of a rant and a bit of a comment.

I was transporting a car out of storage that had been sitting for 13 years. (1981 El Camino, in case you are interested)
After sitting for that long, obviously I had some concerns.
I put a new battery in it, checked the fluid levels, (all were good) and it fired up fairly quickly to my surprise with 13 year old gas in it.

My other concern was the 20 year old tires that I stored it on. I switched out the old tires for a new set. That is were I made my mistake, the one thing I forgot to do was to re-torque the lugnuts after driving a few kilometers.

(In fairness, I was quite exhausted after the work of pulling it out and switching the tires as it was quite a hot day (at least for me))

Roughly 50 km into the 200 km trip I started hearing a noise coming from the rear. I figured it was just from being stored for 13 years and the wheel bearings needed a little more grease.
A few km later, I hear and feel a bang and skid to a stop with what I think is a blown tire.

After getting out and inspecting it, I see that all the wheel studs on one tire had sheared off and then I realized that I had not re-torqued the lug nuts and one of the wheels had fallen off. No way I was going anywhere without a tow. :mad:

A few phone calls later (I had my smart phone with me), I managed to locate a flatbed that could tow me (It was 10:00 pm) as well as a nearby garage who could fix it (the next morning) and even a hotel to spend the night close to the garage.

The only problem was that it was going to take the flatbed truck an hour+ to get to me so I had an hour to wait with an obviously disabled vehicle on the side of the road. I put my 4 ways on and even found a triangle set in the car to put out for visibility.

In that hour I was waiting, I counted at least several hundred cars, SUVs, and large haul trucks pass by. ( It was surprisingly busy for that time in the evening).

Not a single one of them stopped or even made an attempt to stop despite my obvious breakdown. In all fairness, They couldn’t have done much and I had a tow truck coming but I was surprised that no one stopped to see if I could use any help even if it was to ask if I was okay.

When I had several similar types of breakdowns roughly 10 - 15 years ago in the same area, about 1 in 10 vehicles would stop and ask if I needed any help.

A few conclusions that I made.

  1. Most people assume that virtually everyone driving on a highway has a cell phone of some type these days and can call for help, if needed (which I did)

  2. Police (I didn’t see any in the hour I was waiting) are too busy with other accidents, or too short staffed to respond to every broken down car in an hour.

  3. Society in general have been conditioned to NOT stop for strangers broken down and call the authorities instead of getting involved.

Of note, the tow driver had no problems getting my car on his flatbed and I got it fixed with new studs the following morning and I finished my journey a day later than anticipated. - Now to finish getting the fluids changed, and a tune up tomorrow.

Just surprising the general change in attitudes over the last 15 years. A lot more cocconing I see, I think is the term.

I imagine it is just the ubiquitous presence of the cell phone. I was telling some people recently how I had waited for hours with a broken down car while the rest of the people I was travelling with left for another engagement. I explained that I was the only one that could happily sit around reading for hours without getting antsy, so I volunteered. They left me there, drove off to the nearest town and arranged the tow. People looked horrified until I explained, “No phones except landlines then.”

It is surprising how often when recounting tales from years ago that you have to explain, “This was before cell phones,” or the story makes no sense.

ssgenius - are you a cute girl?
If not, I think it’s perfectly understandable that nobody stopped. If you were actively waving down passing cars, maybe some would have stopped, but otherwise, they figure that you are not in any particular trouble.

How old are you? If you were especially young 10-15 years ago, then people might have stopped for you because they figured you were a clueless kid. If you look like you’re fully grown now, people might assume you’ve got your shit together and you don’t need any help. Maybe in another 10-15 years, you’ll look elderly and clueless, and folks will gladly help you again.

The indifference you received was based more on paranoia than self-absorption. People jump to the worst possible conclusions, and I’ll bet folks thought you were dangerous.

People are lazy, that is all it is. They do not put thought into you having a cellphone or the like or age. Unless you are obviously old or physically disabled or “pretty” they will not stop. Another factor is most people do not know dick about their cars and treat them as appliances that need occasional repairs and pickup when they malfunction so they wouldn’t be able to help anyway. They assume someone else will help and it causes a chain reaction. Pretty sad indeed.

Anyhow, congratulations on that El Camino and getting it repaired. Beautiful vehicle. Any Pics? :smiley:

Not everyone will just drive by. Some folks do still stop and offer help.

For example, my daughter and her then-boyfriend were driving on the interstate a couple years ago, and spotted a driver on the shoulder that looked like he had run off the road. While they were checking on that driver, a second driver pulled over, presumably to also offer help. Except, instead of helping, that helpful driver smashed the window of my daughter’s car, and made off with her purse. A very bold move, and proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

I stop frequently. I live in a rural area and I would say the norm is to stop. I don’t know if that’s the case everywhere or not, but it’s still normal here. I will say I’m more likely to stop if it’s just women at the car. Most of the time people just wave you on. I have had to change a couple of tires and pick up some gas. I got a girl out of a ditch about a month ago.

I think this is just Bystander Effect. It’s easy for people to say “Someone else will help” and drive on.

Those responses saying it’s just one thing or just one other thing, are all true. :smiley:

It’s a combination of those factors, plus maybe some that aren’t mentioned yet.

I think a lot of it is that a lot of people are too scared to stop. They’ve bought into the false media narrative of “Rising Crime! Scary, scary! We’re all going to die!”

And they think that if they stop to help a scary stranger, (and ALL strangers are scary), they’ll be robbed, or worse.

Yeah, if you’re not waving at passing cars I’m going to assume that you have a cell phone and you are capable of helping yourself. I see no reason to stop unless you appear to have been incapacitated and unable to help yourself (such as from a serious collision). Good reasons not to stop are listed, being that it’s dangerous. You might as well have wondered if people have stopped hitch-hiking because other people are self-absorbed. Nah. It’s because nobody will put up with that dangerous stuff any more without a very good reason. I also wouldn’t want anyone stopping to help me in your scenario because then I’d have to contend with a stranger in a seriously compromised situation where they could very easily take advantage of me and I have no way to get away. I’m not going to do that to other people. I don’t really care if the chances of bad things happening are near zero, they’re not zero, and I’m perfectly capable of helping myself.

About two years ago my mom and I were driving on a two lane state highway. We got a flat tire. Mom did have a phone, so we got it out and called AAA but just as we got an operator two different trucks stopped and asked if we needed help. They changed the tire and wanted to refuse Mom’s offer of payment. But she asked if they attended church or had a favorite charity, and said to give it to them. One guy said he donated to the Wounded Warrior project, so they got a donation. We were off the road less than half an hour.

I take a look at any breakdowns that I see, as, if nothing else, a few times it was someone that I knew, and though they had already called for a tow, they welcomed the company for the wait.

Before cells were ubiquitous, I almost always stopped for a breakdown, assuming that there was not already someone or even an emergency vehicle assisting.

But yeah, after I stopped a couple of times, and they said, “No, it’s okay, I already called for a tow.” I kinda stopped.

As said, I usually look at them just to see if they are someone that I know, but also to see if they seem to be needing more immediate help. If they are just sitting in or around their car, looking at their phone or something, then I don’t see any assistance I can render. If they are trying to wave down cars, I’ll stop and see what I can do.

A small exception to this was a few years back when I was driving back from a camping trip. It started raining really hard, and suddenly the car in front of me slammed on its brakes and pulled to the side of the road. I stopped, tossed on my parka and went to see if my suspicions were right, and they were. Their wipers had stopped working. I pulled the fuse and replaced it with one of the spares in the fuse compartment, and they were on their way. They had no idea how to even start that procedure, and would have had to wait until someone came out and helped them, probably at a high expense.

About 40 years ago my car spun on a patch of ice on a bridge and I totaled my car.
There were several cars approaching the bridge, they saw what happened and didn’t stop.
I was sitting in my car stunned and with blood on my forehead.
Several more cars passed, saw me, and didn’t stop.
Luckily I was just a few blocks from a friends house and I was able to walk for help.

Don’t know what it all means, but it happened to me.