Story 1: (This comes from a general authority but I can't remember which specific one. Forgive me.) He tells this story of being in line in an airport. Somewhere else in this line is a woman visibly struggling with her kids. She's alone. The kids are (understandably) whining and possibly crying, enough so that everyone in the line is getting impatient with her and wishing she'd just shut up those kids. Instead of doing as everyone else, the GA offers assistance to this poor woman, who gratefully accepts. The kids are happy, the mom is happy, and everyone in line is happier.
Story 2: A Washington Post columnist is in an airport. He notices a beautiful young woman who is crying. She's alone. He's afraid to do anything because he's old enough to be her father and doesn't want to come across as a dirty old man who is offering aid only because she's a beautiful young woman. He doesn't do anything. He regrets his inaction very much. To make it worse, a young woman who had recently been in this exact situation tells this columnist that she would have been extremely grateful if he had spoken to her. He regrets his inaction even more.
Story 3: I am on the metro coming home from work yesterday when a very large woman is incessantly ratting her keys. And this isn't your quiet key rattling. She's throwing them around and occasionally hitting the window and other objects. She does this all the way from Union Station to Glenmont, about a 25-minute ride. As we approach Silver Spring, the yelling of obscenities begins. She uses every single obscenity that I know, in one sentence. Apparently she wants the train to skip the next three stations and head straight to Glenmont, as if this were an option. Everyone on the train is ignoring at her and the situation, but everyone hears her. They have to. At one point, someone makes eye contact with her because she loudly says, "What are you looking at?" No one tries that again. She continues the key rattling and the obscenity yelling. Of course I am not doing anything to appease this situation, as she's twice my size and obviously upset. But then I remember Story 1 and Story 2 and wonder if I should do something. Should I get up and ask if she's okay? Should I get up and tell her that we'll be to Glenmont shortly? Or do I just sit there reading my National Geographic, pretending that nothing is happening? I don't regret my choice of action, but should I?