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How would you respond?

Published February 23. 2013 09:02AM

I could have sworn John Quinones was in Lehighton a couple of weeks ago.

You know who I mean. He is the host/anchor for the ABC television show "What would you do?"

In the show, actors play out different ethical scenarios in public places laden with hidden cameras to see how, if at all, other people will respond or if anyone will step up to intervene.

Scenarios often broach the issues of honesty/dishonesty, racism, homosexuality, bullying and general right versus wrong.

I love to watch as things unfold and I am often surprised by some of the responses as well as the lack of the same.

Recently, I was sitting at my desk working when I heard some elevated conversation outside.

At first, I tried to ignore it, assuming it would end quickly due to the frigid temperatures outdoors where the conversation was taking place. But as it became louder, I was able to understand what was being said, which made it increasingly difficult to ignore.

It would seem that an older woman was fully intent on berating and demeaning a younger woman, whom I presume was a relative; possibly a daughter or granddaughter.

Considering there were two other offices surrounding the two women, I knew I couldn't be the only one hearing the verbal assault.

For several minutes she just fired off one brutal insult after another. The younger woman, obviously distraught, questioned the older one as to why she was saying those things, which only brought another poisonous outburst upon her.

The more I heard, the angrier I became. I started to wonder if I should say something or not. My breath quickened and my heart began to beat rapidly in my chest. What to do ...

When the mothering instinct kicked in and I finally had enough, I pushed myself away from my desk and proceeded to make my way outside.

Initially, I had my mind made up that I was going to unleash my own verbal fury upon the older woman.

However, half-way across the room, my heart told me to approach her differently.

I spoke to her in a gentle tone and let her know that what she was saying hurt me listening to it, and that I could only imagine how it made the other woman feel.

An all out brawl could have very easily ensued, but luckily that didn't happen. I said my peace, she thanked me, and then they were on their way.

I would like very much to think that my words will have had some impact on the relationship and how they communicate with each other.

Maybe, she will think twice before she hurts someone with her words the next time she has something to say. Perhaps, at the very least, she won't do it out in public adding insult to injury by embarrassing her daughter or granddaughter (or whomever she was) in ear shot of others.

I am certain, however, that she won't be doing it outside of my office again.

Was it the right thing to do? I think so. I think if I were a victim, I would want someone to step in for me.

I also think that we all need to be held accountable for our actions and sometimes we need to hear when we are out of line. It helps us to grow and to become better human beings if we are willing and able to accept a reproach.

I talked to others about this who felt that I should have minded my own business and that it is not my place to inject myself into someone else's problems. Maybe they are right.

At the end of each scenario on "What would you do?", Mr. Quinones comes out with his camera crew to let the interveners know that the situation was not real and that they were part of the TV show.

That day, there were no actors, no camera crews and no John Quinones. There was just life and three individual responses to it.

What I have come to realize by watching the show is that there is a not-so-fine line between the invasion of someone's privacy and complete and utter apathy, and that not everyone is willing to cross it.

What would you have done?

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