Man Down At The McDonald’s Drive Through

by admin on September 1, 2014

A couple of days ago I took a quick trip to a local fast food drive-thru to pick up lunch for the family. This particular drive-thru is VERY popular and serves a high-volume of cars. It is set up with two side-by-side lanes for cars, each lane drives up to an order board. After ordering, cars pull up and merge into a single lane which winds around the restaurant to the food pick-up window. I’ve seen some bad behavior at the point that the two lanes merge, but usually cars go every other or just pull up into the single lane once they’ve ordered if car next to them is not yet ready.

When I arrived, there were three or four cars in each lane waiting to place their orders. I got in line in the inside lane, closest to the restaurant. On the immediate left of my car was a planter island and on the other side of that was one of the handicapped parking spots in front of the restaurant. As I sat waiting, an elderly woman and a middle-aged man approached the car parked in that handicapped spot. She got in the driver’s side and he came around the car to the passenger side. At this point, I believe he stepped between the car and the curb on the planter bed and lost his balance and fell. When I glanced over, he was lying in the planter bed next to the car. I asked if he was okay and he repeatedly said he was fine, but it became quickly obvious that he couldn’t get back up. He started rolling back and forth in the dirt trying to turn over and was unsuccessful. At this point, I got out of my car, leaving the engine running and the door open, and went over to him. The woman with him also realized then that something was wrong and came around the car to his side also.

He was a large man, possibly disabled, and he was having a very hard time getting to a position that would allow him to get his footing. The elderly woman (his mother perhaps) and I helped him turn over and between him holding on to me and grabbing the door handle, he was able to get to his knees then get both feet on a level surface and finally stand up. I helped him into their car and shut his door.

Even though this had all occurred directly next to the drive-thru lanes, no one else sitting in their cars in the line had made any attempt to help two older woman get a large man in distress up off the ground. And, as I got back in my car, I realized that at least one car, possibly two, had pulled in front of my car from the other lane to get ahead of me in line.    0829-14

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca September 1, 2014 at 12:47 am

I agree that some others might have got out to help, or at least offer help. But maybe it appeared that you had it under control. I don’t think driving around the stopped car is totally unreasonable. I can see myself thinking, “Oh, that woman in front got out to help that man get up. Good on her. Looks like they have it under control. I’ll drive around and pick up my order.

If someone stops to help, that is great, but if they aren’t helping, I don’t see the point in waiting behind a car that’s been delayed instead of moving around it.

I’ve had this issue with my elderly dad trying to get in the car, too. Occasionally he’s had great difficulty and we’ve struggled. People do come along and help, which is much appreciated. But in a drive through lineup I don’t see the point in having 20 cars held up waiting while one or two in front get out to help.


Mia September 1, 2014 at 5:01 am

You stop to do a good deed for someone and in the process they essentially steal your place in line while you are doing a good deed, that’s not okay.. That’s actually pretty self centred, he’d fallen and he obviously needed help to get up. You’re telling me that it’s okay for people not to get out of their cars to help?


Spuck September 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

If the OP and the other women had the situation handled, then it actually would shave made more sense for other drivers to move forward. More stopped cars would have been more stopped cars which could actually create other problems than the fallen man himself. It is very situational.


JJ September 1, 2014 at 10:54 am

I don’t see how the drivers staying behind the car the whole time the other driver helped would have helped the drive thru people. At least to me I don’t see how they were stealing any spots. The driver of the car was out their car doing a nice deed and their car was running empty in the middle of the lane. I would think it would be natural for the others to want to keep the line moving so as to not hold everyone up working the drive thru. I don’t think anyone is saying its not okay to to get out and help people at all. But you can’t expect your spot to be saved when your off doing another task even if it is a nice, kind task to do. If one is in a line up at a store cash register and steps out of line to say go help someone they see who might need assistance getting somewhere is the whole line up expected to stop running and serving people at the register for several minutes to wait for that one person to finish helping the person? Or would it not make sense for the line to keep going so as to not hold up everyone else and then just let the person who was helping others take back their spot if possible when they come back.


Schnickelfritz September 1, 2014 at 11:20 am

I agree with Rebecca. If the ladies helping him needed more help, I believe they would have motioned for help or someone to call 911. Otherwise, the man is further distressed or agitated, with a crowd surrounding him.

And, picturing my nearest same type drive-through, a main four lane road would be backed up, and could result in an accident.

I have also had issues with getting my elderly mother, in a car. She would be very self-conscious, and wave people off, just as this man did. We did learn a good trick though. We were leaving a funeral parlor, and she got stuck in a bad position, getting from her walker and into the car. A nice funeral director came over. He took of his BELT and wrapped it around her waist, buckled the belt, and hoisted her directly and plopped her in the front seat! My Mother was cracking up and blushing by this time (he was very handsome and about her age, she was a beauty well into her 70s). He told her he used this trick with his own Mother. We then put my Dad’s belt in the car, and used it now and then. This trick worked, even with a small person helping her. When she was in hospice care, and we would all sit and tell funny life stories, this one would crack her up. She was sure to mention to her other daughters/grand “he was VERY good looking!”


Calli Arcale September 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

The belt trick absolutely works, and in fact, if you visit a nursing home you may notice some of the residents sitting around wearing a rather ugly but utilitarian belt. This is a good sign that they are a fall risk and a staff person has either just helped them into their seat or is about to; the belts are intended to be easy for a nurse or orderly to put on and remove, and are used on many people in a given day as they help people. It’s much easier, both on yourself and on the person needing help, to lift them by a belt than, say, their armpits.


Schnickelfritz September 1, 2014 at 4:57 pm

How would the ambulance get through, in your scenario? With all the parked cars, and good samaritans, standing around, stressing out the patient. Think about that a minute. If extra help was needed, the OP would have surely asked for more help. The smart thing was to keep the cars moving, in case there was more serious help needed. Agitating the patient is not a great idea. People do pay attention, and were aware, I am sure, that the situation was under control. Otherwise, the OP would have been asking for more help, and 911. In which cases, the cars needed to keep moving. The last thing needed, was a crowd of people, and single lines of parked cars, no matter what the outcome was.


Steve September 1, 2014 at 10:06 pm


Crowds of good Samaritans? A “patient?” A four lane road? Asserting the OP “surely” would have asked for help but the situation was “under control”–when the OP is right here complaining about the lack of help?

None of these are reasonable readings of the story. Not one of them. They are all pure works of fiction.


CW September 2, 2014 at 12:13 pm

She never distinctly said they needed extra help. She described how they got him back to a standing position and later commented that no one offered to help two older ladies. If I were in the parking lot and saw this scenario, the most I may have done was ask through my car window if they needed more assistance, but only if it appeared the situation was not under control. The OP did not stress that they NEEDED extra help, just that no one offered.

Steve September 3, 2014 at 8:12 am

“Without knowing how the observers perceived the situation, I don’t know how it would have appeared that we “had it under control,” at least until the point that he was able to get back to his feet. I was winded and sweaty from the exertion, one strong arm in assistance would have made a huge difference in our struggle.”

Alli September 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm

I can’t see how others just stopping and waiting would have done anyone any good at all. It would have backed up traffic and kept the restaurant from functioning. The people weren’t “cutting” in line in front of OP, the OP was out of line. The drivers also may have had no idea why the OP was stopped or where the OP went. Sitting and waiting for an indeterminate amount of time makes no sense.


sean September 1, 2014 at 1:12 am

diffusion of responsibility


Mya September 1, 2014 at 2:41 am

Unfortunately in today’s litigious society, random acts of kindness open you up to accusations. Even if they don’t, you’re lucky some enterprising thief didn’t take advantage of your kindness to rob your vehicle (either the vehicle or the contents) which would not have been covered by insurance as you left them unattended. As nice as it is to think we would all help others in need, sometimes it’s not worth the risk.


CJCarville September 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. I’d be very hesitant to help because I’m not a doctor, and I worry I could screw it up and then end up getting sued for everything I’m worth. I’ve also seen people who are doctors get sued anyway in these types of situations.

It’s great that the LW did that, but s/he also need to realize how much s/he opened him/herself up to some serious legal risk. It’s not that the other people in cars didn’t care, but we don’t know that. I wouldn’t have helped either.

A lawyer can explain it better.


koolchicken September 2, 2014 at 12:11 am

There are Good Samaritan laws in virtually every state in the US. My husband is a doctor and there have been times we’ve felt compelled to stop what we’re doing to help out. He gets worried sometimes though. We don’t keep a bag with supplies or anything in the car, and if it’s serious it’s not like he could really do anything anyways. What he might need if someone is seriously injured or ill is back in the ER or in the ambulance. So it can be really stressful to stop and help. We still do, but it’s scary.

Also, just because we have those laws it doesn’t mean someone can’t file a suit anyways. They won’t win but he could still have to go to court and it could hurt his reputation.


Library Diva September 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Sorry, I don’t buy it. There’s a world of actions you can take between attempting to perform open-heart surgery yourself using a penknife and Google, and just ignoring the situation. In this scenario, the people in the other cars could have asked if help was required simply by rolling down their windows and shouting.

Personally, I always attempt to help. I have pulled over to check on people lying on the sidewalk, to determine whether or not they were in distress. I have called 911 on a man acting erratically who turned out to be a diabetic whose sugar levels got out of whack. I have summoned medical personnel to help after witnessing an elderly woman take a bad fall. I have called 911 after driving by a large column of black smoke off the highway, just to make sure that area emergency personnel knew something was going on. In none of these cases did I have to lay a hand on anyone in order to do something about the situation. But I’ve always believed that it’s the responsibility of any witness to at least attempt to do something about a bad situation.


remi September 1, 2014 at 3:29 am

I agree with Rebecca. If you and the other woman had it under control or at least seemed to, what would the other people in the drive through be able to do? I suppose they could all get out and carry the fallen man on their shoulders, but it seems unnecessary. And it’s pretty reasonable to go around you when your car is stopped and you can’t move forward; your car is holding up the entire line and slowing down the whole restaurant, delaying the people behind you from getting their food and possibly backing up orders inside, if people are still coming from behind to order their own meals. Nobody in the lineup knows how long it will take you to help the man and get back into your car, and in my experience people usually go through the drive through because they’re on their way somewhere or they are in too much of a rush to order inside.


Miss-E September 1, 2014 at 9:16 am

I agree. I was expecting that when she got back in her car someone came over and screamed at her for getting out, which would be inexcusable. But I don’t think moving their cars is all that rude. Especially if the traffic was backing into the street. And I’m sure the poor guy didn’t want an even larger audience to his struggle.


flora September 1, 2014 at 7:12 am

I don’t think these people deserve e-hell. How many people need to help up a man? I’d say two, maybe three. You also don’t know thier circumstances. Part of ettiquette (as I understand it anyways) is giving people in questionable situations the benefit of the doubt and this is one of those.


Rebecca September 1, 2014 at 8:21 am

I thought you were going to say that people were honking and yelling because you were blocking the lane. This doesn’t sound so bad.

These people saw that you had the situation under control, and chose to contribute by moving traffic along, and not creating a log jam. They couldn’t really have helped much anyway. There are only so many places to grab somebody to help them up, and having a whole bunch of people standing around gawking and questioning things would probably have hurt an already embarrassed man’s pride even further.

A man in need was helped (and good on you, OP, for being that helpful citizen we all hope is out there in our times of need), everybody got their food, nobody felt rushed or humiliated… all in all I’d call this a win.


Ellex September 1, 2014 at 9:55 am

Yup, pretty much this. It sounds to me like things worked out as best they could.


kit September 1, 2014 at 10:13 am

Yes… I was waiting for getting abuse for having closed the lane, too.


Stacey Frith-Smith September 1, 2014 at 9:52 am

I don’t think that people always respond to an unexpected circumstance with their “A game”. In this case, your car was running and there were two people helping a man up. For most people, this would pose a reasonable appearance of the situation being under control and they might feel free to move on without comment. The game changer, for me, is your self=described demographic of “elderly” for both you and the man’s family member or friend. So, yes- someone should have noticed and offered assistance. Pretty much anyone with a bit of youth or muscle, ideally. The lady who accompanied him should also have been observant if he is known to struggle with getting in the car. Verbal prompts and a little help on her part might have prevented this. (I say this as someone who had an exceptional needs adult fall on my watch while stepping off a curb …and I was simultaneously catching another special needs adult failing her attempts at entering the vehicle as her medicine had made her sleepy. Lesson learned, NEVER remove your attention or fail in vigilance because a split second is all it takes. Better to anticipate than remedy.)


kit September 1, 2014 at 10:46 am

How about people who, seeing a car blocking a line, and people on sidewalk helping someone, just pass the car instead of coming to help, and don’t even stop and wait behind the car until the helping has been finished so that they wouldn’t cut the helpers to next traffic lights? I guess they are going to the same e-hell circle.


Schnickelfritz September 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm

I don’t follow your post. All I can picture, is if an ambulance needs to get to someone, and can’t, because of all the people waiting patiently, until they get the all clear. How does that work? I am not sure what you are trying to say. It is best to keep a clear path, for an ambulance, once you see the patient has assistance. Too many cooks…. etc.


Steve September 2, 2014 at 7:41 am

What ambulance? What patient? You claim confusion over kit’s clear post based on the plain facts of the story, yet you continue to fabricate fictitious details that never happened.


JJ September 1, 2014 at 11:04 am

I gotta be honest I don’t see what was so e hell violations here. If the op had everything under control helping the man to his car then why would they need to more help anyway. It reminds of when someone is in medical distress in public and someone stays with them till the ambulance arrives. One or two people around to help do things like elevate the feet, make sure they are still concious etc is okay but when you get to many people involved it gets cramped and overwhelming even kind of embarrassing for the ill person who has all this attention and stares. It’s great to help but sometimes there is such a thing as to many people rushing to help and then they inevitably just end up standing in the background staring with nothing to do to help.

And on the second note I don’t see how the drivers pulling forward in the drive thru while op was busy with this man was rude. She was not in her car and could have been helping this man for at least a few minutes so why should the other drivers create more clutter by refusing to move in the drive thru and put drive thru services to a halt. They need to keep the line moving even if someone is doing a good deed like helping a fallen person or stepping out to help a person with a baby stroller open a door they can’t seem fit the stroller in. If your not in your spot in line you can’t expect people to halt all business and just sit and wait for you to come back. Its only fair to let some people go ahead till you return to your spot because now your just creating more congestion no matter how nice your intentions for leaving your car were.


Comradde PhysioProffe September 1, 2014 at 11:49 am

Well, one thing the people in the other cars could have done that they didn’t was to roll down their windows and ask whether any additional help was needed.


Steve September 2, 2014 at 7:42 am

Exactly. The whole episode would’ve been over in a flash if someone had simply done that.


Enna September 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

But if the OP and the woman looked like they were in charge they might not have thought their help was needed. Also it doesn’t matter how many people are there, some individuals will always take some time getting up again if they have limited mobility. If too many people try pulling or pushing the individual it could possible injure the man or embarssese him with more people watching.

An extra pair of hands might have saved ten seconds but the situation still ended well. As for people still driving through, so long as this is done safely and does not endanger anyone there is nothing wrong with keeping the line moving. As a child I remember sometimes there would be long queues at the drivethrough at my local macdonalds and it would line out along the carpark and onto the main road. Keeping the line moving means there is less likley something else will go wrong.


lakey September 1, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Whether or not people were “stealing” the good Samaritan’s place in line is hard to judge from the post. It would depend on how fast the line was moving. If the line was moving fairly fast, they were justified in going around. If it was moving slowly, they should have waited. It would also depend on how long it was taking the poster to be out of her car and help the guy. Would the other drivers’ staying behind her interfere with the flow and slowed everything down, or would she have been back in her car and moving with the line without slowing down the number of cars moving through the line?


Anonymouse September 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I don’t think any of that matters. OP wasn’t ready to order, because she was helping the man. Others were ready, and took their place rather than holding up the restaurant employees and others behind them. When OP was ready, she was essentially moved up to the front of the line to place her order.

The extra wait time for OP was only as long as she was preoccupied.


NostalgicGal September 1, 2014 at 12:44 pm

It was good of you to help.
It wasn’t unreasonable for those that didn’t help, as it seemed to be under control, to pull around. AND CONTINUE the serving of people at the restaurant instead of backing things up into a mess.
For an ehell, this is a pass….
As long as you didn’t get your car whonked, vandalized or thefted; and could get back into the line and get your food then no harm.


AnaMaria September 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm

A few years ago I had a fainting spell during my cashiering shift (turned out to be nothing serious, but was scary at the moment!), but the last thing I wanted was extra people rushing over to “help” when my manager and one of our pharmacists were already taking care of me and waiting for an ambulance to get there. There is nothing more humiliating than being sick or injured and having random strangers stare at you, or, worse, come over and start touching you or yelling, “Are you okay??” (Yes, I’m fine! I’m just taking a nap in the middle of my cashwrap! Duh…)

I understand the OP’s frustration; I’m guessing it was very difficult to get this man standing again without injuring him or someone else and I’m sure an extra pair of hands would have been helpful. But, I also would venture to guess that a lot of passerbys didn’t want to create chaos and further humiliate the victim by crowding around him. Also, some of them may have had small kiddos or pets in their cars and might not have been able to stop and leave their cars unsupervised. I can’t blame the OP for being flustered over the whole situation, but I think it played out as best as it could.


Enna September 6, 2014 at 11:59 am

You make a good point, especially about children needing supervsision. The OP mentions that one or two cars had gone in front – they could have had children with them. If it was only one or two then it was no big deal – it wasn’t like they were pushing in front of the OP rudely or blocking her when she was back in her car tyring to drive along to get her order.


whatever September 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Too many people (or people without the right type of training) can spoil a situation just as too few people can. If a person is truly injured, it might not be safe to have too many people moving him, and if the person is confused or agitated, having more strangers around is going to make that worse. Therefore, if I see that a situation is under control, I might ask if they need help, but otherwise butt out.

Also, there’s a societal benefit in keeping the traffic moving. If the cars immediately behind you hadn’t moved, someone who was far enough back to not be able to see the situation might have tried to pull forward and do something stupid.

(For other reasons why one might not help bystanders, I’ve had a friend arrested by the police for calling 911 and helping someone whom he saw injured in the street late at night, even though the hurt person said that my friend had nothing to do the situation that caused the injury. He was never charged and let go after a night in jail. He says that in retrospect, he’d still help, but he’d be far more careful about involving the police.)


Enna September 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I think those officers who arrested your firend should get some more training.


Rosie B. September 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Ideally, the people behind you should have rolled down their windows, asked if everything was okay, and then (provided the answer was “yes”) asked you for permission before going in front of you. However, I assume everyone just assumed you had the situation under control and moved ahead so as not to hold up the line. Was that the best way to handle the situation? Probably not. But I don’t think it was rude, necessarily.


Steve September 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Honestly. Some of these comments are blazing new trails in absurdity.

A fat disabled man falls to the ground in full view of a line of cars – and two women, one of them old, are rolling him back and forth to help him get up. Not one person offers to help. In fact, they steal the good Samaritan’s place in line. And commenters here have the unmitigated gall to defend them saying, it look like everything was under control?

Are people really that unhinged by the uncontrollable urge to prevent any other woman from getting attention that they will actually try to defend the indefensible? Is it really that important to claw and scratch another woman down to prove she is no more important than you are?

Sometimes I think these comments are secretly written by misogynistic men out to justify paying women $.68 on the dollar.


Schnickelfritz September 1, 2014 at 10:32 pm

No one “stole” anything. Defend the indefensible? Fat man in full view? Claw and scratch women? Unhinged uncontrollable urges? Unmitigated gull? Yes, by golly, we are all misogynistic men, and this is our secret club. So you disagree with the majority here. Your post is more troublesome than the OP’s post. It sounds like you have limited social experience.

By the way, most men have wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, girlfriends, etc. working for a wage. Do you think they are secretly wishing to keep the “woman” down, to not bring home a fair paycheck? Really?


Ai September 2, 2014 at 11:09 am

Okay Steve. I typically agree with you here, but this comment, this VAST overgeneralization of people pointing out that this may not be an etiquette breach, who are not being rude to the OP, is pretty damn rude. BTW, I’m a female professional, in case you wanted to insinuate my own gender for me.


Steve September 3, 2014 at 8:33 am

It is not a vast overgeneralization. There is not a vast number of replies to this thread to overgeneralize about. There is a finite number, and I have read them all.

This is a repeated pattern that occurs here frequently. A poster describes obviously bad behavior. But commenters rush in to justify it, defend it, explain it away – with the most ridiculous excuses imaginable – in the process diminishing and dismissing the original poster. That’s if she’s lucky. Often she finds herself the object of criticism if not ridicule.

Who in their right mind actually believes that it is okay to glide by two old women huffing and puffing and sweating to help a man who has collapsed on the ground, and not even roll down the window to ask if everyone is okay? To metaphorically step over the man to steal somebody’s place in line? Go ahead. I challenge you to show this thread to people at work, and ask your coworkers if they agree that this is a nice way to behave, nothing to complain about, no siree.

It is as ridiculous as the thread where people claimed it is fine for a host to completely ignore a houseguest who has collapsed directly in front of him, writhing in pain.

Though you may wish to ignore it, anyone can see what is really happening here— not in every thread, but in many. It’s plain as day. A nail has popped up, and she must be hammered down.


rachel September 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm

How can you take a story where the OP thinks people are rude to a sick man and turn it into misogyny?


CW September 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I’m still trying to figure out where the “claw and scratch another woman down” came from.

And would it have made the feel better if 20-30 cars stopped and said, “is everything ok?” Or “do you need help?” No, then this post would be about how humiliated someone was for everyone making a big spectacle about a man falling down.


Steve September 4, 2014 at 10:12 am

I am neither the first person here to make this observation, nor will I be the last. The pattern is as plain as the nose on my face.

Rational discussions take place when people accept facts as facts, and then debate what they might mean. Or when they challenge facts, based on reason and logic and consistency. When people ignore those parameters, what we are left with are irrational discussions. And irrational discussions are always driven by emotion. It is usually pretty easy in any given situation to deduce what those emotions are.

Sometimes the irrational discussions here take the form of a barrage of insults lobbed at the original poster. In this case, they take the form of fanciful, fantastic speculations, wholly contrary to reason, logic and the repeated corrections of the OP. Instead of what actually happened — a stream of callous motorists who watch a man fall to the ground and refuse even to move their fingers to lower their windows, but instead veer over into another lane to get their Big Mac faster — we get tall tales of patients, ambulances, long backups on a nonexistent highway, a sudden wave of consumer concern about the hourly productivity of McDonald’s, and farcical assertions about old ladies hoisting fat middle-aged men into the air.

Since this discussion is clearly irrational, we must look to discover the underlying emotion behind it. As usual, it is plain to see. The purpose of each of these fabrications is the same: to diminish the value of the OP’s good deed, and to dismiss her criticisms of her fellow motorists. Bang, bang; hammered right back into place.

Oh and 30 cars? What would the last 29 cars be doing, after the driver of the first one got out and helped the man to his feet?


Anonymouse September 2, 2014 at 7:04 pm

My goodness, what a lot of assumptions you are making!


Enna September 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm

My thought excatly. If the OP thinks one or two cars passed her or jumped her place in the queue there couldn’t have been that many people around. When you are in a queue you can’t always see what’s in front of the car in front, if you’re the third, fourth, fifith etc car along the line your view could be obsecured by the other cars.


Marozia September 1, 2014 at 6:28 pm

The OP said that the ‘downed’ gentleman was large and possibly disabled. Don’t forget, that some people may not be able to help because of medical problems of their own. I certainly couldn’t help get a large person up from the ground!


Steve September 2, 2014 at 7:43 am

The entire line of cars? Were they waiting for fast food or admission to the ER?


Enna September 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Not all the people in the line may have seen what had happened.


OP September 1, 2014 at 8:48 pm

OP here, sorry it took me all day to get back and respond to these comments. Frankly, I have to say that I’m shocked that the majority of you seem to think that the moral of this story is “don’t get between people and their chicken sandwiches.”
Without knowing how the observers perceived the situation, I don’t know how it would have appeared that we “had it under control,” at least until the point that he was able to get back to his feet. I was winded and sweaty from the exertion, one strong arm in assistance would have made a huge difference in our struggle.
This did not happen on a four-lane highway as someone suggested, but in a fast food drive-thru. The reason I tried, as best I could, to describe the two ordering lane layout of this particular drive-thru is to make the point that the cars that went ahead of me in line were not the cars behind me, but the cars in the lane next to me. In no possible way were they being held up by my empty car, they saw an opportunity to move themselves ahead by moving across into my lane ahead of my car. In doing so, not only did they cut ahead of me, but also any cars that might have been behind me in my lane.


Schnickelfritz September 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm

OP, if you are that out of shape, you should not have put yourself in danger. You should have alerted younger, healthier, stronger men in line, to assist. Not everyone can see what is going on, until they would be approaching – those in back would not have a view. The four lane highway, was the address of the McD’s I was referring to – not a drive through on the actual road. The back-up would have ended up with people on the road, waiting to turn in. Not many fast food drive-throughs on side streets. Yes, you did an admirable thing. It was good the line kept moving, you may have needed the ambulance to get to this guy. How was that going to work if everyone waited?


Steve September 2, 2014 at 10:22 am

“Out of shape?” Who said she was out of shape? Why the need to insult the poster?


Rosie B. September 2, 2014 at 3:10 am

I see your point, but I don’t think it was as severe of a breach in etiquette as you made it out to be. The people behind you wouldn’t have been able to move forward in the line anyway, so I don’t think it was a big deal that the people in the other lane decided to go in front of you. Had someone in that lane stopped and gotten out of their car, then they would have been blocking both lanes. Again, it’s very possible that they assumed you had it under control and decided not to interfere. They were, after all, at a restaurant, and though it would have been nice of them to help they weren’t under any obligation to.

Also, is it possible that the people on the opposite side of the drive-through didn’t have a clear view of what was going on? Perhaps the other lane of cars was obstructing their view and they couldn’t tell why you had gotten out of your car. It would have made sense for the cars directly behind you to get out and help (after all, they wouldn’t have been able to get ahead of you anyway), but the cars in the other lane get a pass in my opinion.


B September 2, 2014 at 7:03 am

However it looked, I’m also pretty disgusted that everyone here thinks it’s fine to drive right on past without even bothering to ask, “Are you ok? Do you need a hand?” Is it really that hard to ask? Seriously? Even if you just can’t wait for your crappy junk food?

That’s not getting in the way or making it worse. It’s common decency.


Steve September 2, 2014 at 10:36 am

I share your disgust.

Can you imagine if one of the rationalizers were the person who fell? Are we seriously to believe that they would lie on the ground content, grateful that restaurant traffic was still moving and imagining all the medical conditions (autism, perhaps?) that were doubtless preventing people from coming to help?



Kovi September 2, 2014 at 9:48 am

If *anything*, I would have been more disgusted with anyone parked directly behind me, who could no-doubt easily see what was going on, and was stopped anyway. Meanwhile, the folks in the other lane likely can’t even see what was going on, would have had to walk across the other lane (risking getting hit by someone going around you, if there was space), and would have stopped all traffic during the lunch rush, anyway. That could be particularly dangerous, as it creates a line that goes through the rest of the parking lot.

While you did a very admirable thing, it’s not practical to demand that the entire rest of the line hold up 20-30 other cars just so you can get back to your place in line.

From re-reading your post, you said you hadn’t even ordered yet, before all this happened. As such, you really weren’t yet in line for the window. The unspoken rule isn’t every other car from the time you get there. It’s more or less every other car from the time you order and pull up to the merged line. Some people take longer to order – should the folks in the other line wait an extra 2 minutes so they aren’t ‘budging’ in front of someone else?


Phoenix September 2, 2014 at 2:29 am

If you needed more help, the best thing to do is to actually call a specific person out in the crowd. You point at the person and go, “You! Call 9-1-1 now!” It’s easier for a people to react properly to a situation when they are given instructions. Otherwise, they simple expect the next fellow to do something and thus create the bystander syndrome.


Rosie B. September 2, 2014 at 3:13 am

I agree. It’s possible that the other people in line assumed that since the OP wasn’t asking for help, he/she didn’t need any. If the OP had asked for help and everyone else just ignored him/her and moved along in the line, then that’s one thing, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.


B September 2, 2014 at 7:03 am

How exactly do you do that when everyone is in their cars?


Steve September 2, 2014 at 7:54 am

I wonder whether this would have helped. I haven’t seen any research on the bystander effect that deals with people who are driving cars. Cars increase anonymity and social isolation, as indicated in various studies on road rage.


Alli September 2, 2014 at 6:10 am

You also have to remember that the other drivers probably didn’t see the man fall. So they have no idea what the situation was, and whether they could actually assist. They didn’t know what was going on or understand the context. And without context, they aren’t going to react the same way.


Cecilia September 2, 2014 at 8:38 am

About 4 months ago, I was line at McDonald’s (just paid for the food) and an elderly man was hit exiting the restaurant by a car leaving the drive-thru. They called the ambulance and transported him to the hospital.

The double-lane configuration must be the newest way to serve as many people as possible but it can get confusing when it is first installed or if you are unfamiliar with it. My sister was almost hit while in line because they had to shrink the pull-in lane and there is barely enough space between cars in the drive-thru and the moving traffic lane. Scary.

Glad the man was OK. Far too many people would have just watched him struggle and not have helped. Kudos to you, OP, for stepping in while others just by-passed.


lkb September 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

As a former nurse aide, while I commend the OP for helping out, there is a right and a wrong way to help someone who has fallen. (My husband helped my mother up once when she had fallen but, in his ignorance, wrenched her shoulder which required several weeks of physical therapy to correct.) I understand wanting to help but if you don’t know exactly what to do, please instead call for someone else to help — perhaps alert the drive-thru worker to call for help.


Specky September 2, 2014 at 8:56 am

This seems like the drive through equivalent of stepping over the body lying on the floor in the convenience store to get to the drink cooler for that drink. As a society we have devolved into a group that will blindly ignore obvious suffering and situations to prevent inconvenience to ourselves or to avoid some (usually imaginary) perceived legal liability if we offer help. I find it really sad.


Enna September 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

The OP did do a good deed in helping this man up. Two people helped him. He wasn’t left lying on the ground.


Kovi September 2, 2014 at 9:37 am

I agree with Rebecca, as well. While certainly a couple more people could have gotten out and helped, it’s not practical to have 15 cars backed up all waiting for one to get her ‘rightful place in line’. Since she’s out of her car anyway, the cars going in front of her are just keeping the line moving, which is hugely important if we’re talking McDonald’s or Burger King over the lunch rush.

If I were there, and I decided that the man had the help he needed, I would have driven up, gotten my order, and informed the staff that someone might need help in their parking lot. But guys, the line has to keep moving.


Steve September 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

“But guys, the line has to keep moving.”


Even after the OP has explained it all twice, why do people persist in adding all these details that never happened?

The line behind her car was already at a full stop. It had nowhere to go.

The people who cut in front of her came from the other line, which was waiting for its own separate window. They took up two windows so they could complete the important, urgent task of stuffing their faces with McNuggets.

Had anyone bothered to help, they could have pulled up directly in front of the OP’s already-stopped car without holding up anyone at all.


Lindsay September 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

Sounds like a lot of folks in that line need Jesus. Someone should arrange a meeting.

I’m usually all for polite, passive responses, but that is unacceptable. Knock on windows and ask exactly what needs to happen for folks to be more concerned about humanity than their Quarter Pounder with Cheese, hold the pickle.


MichelleP September 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I wouldn’t suggest doing that. You never know who’s crazy.


Enna September 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Asking for help could work. I think it’s highly unlikely that this would endager anyone.


twik September 2, 2014 at 10:15 am

Psychologists have determined that the biggest obstacle for most people when deciding whether to help strangers is actually being sure that their help is needed in the first place. (Apparently you are much more likely to be rescued from drowning if there is one person on the beach rather than one hundred. In large groups, everyone interprets the inaction of the rest of the group as meaning that there really is no problem.)

I suspect most of the people were thinking, “Hmm, something’s wrong over there. But I guess they have it under control. They’d be waving us down if they didn’t.”


PWH September 2, 2014 at 10:36 am

I think that, in a lot of circumstances, people are reluctant or feel awkward about offering assistance. I agree with Phoenix OP. If you were to point at a specific person and say “You, please come help me” that would have, hopefully rectified the situation. Most people probably glanced your way and assumed, despite your struggling, that the situation was being taken care of.
This situation kind of reminded me of something I witnesses a few years ago. I take the train every day to and from the big city for work. One morning a lady who was waiting to exit the train, passed out on the landing between the stairs to the upper and lower level of the train (the train has a lower, mid-level and upper level). As another passenger was tending to the lady on the floor, other people were actually stepping over both of them to continue on their way down the stairs towards the door to get off the train! Now, I can understand that people are in a rush in the morning to get to work/school, and the woman on the floor was being looked after by two people, but the polite thing to do would have been to wait until the lady could be moved or use another stairwell. The train cars have a stairwell at each end and there are also doors at each end that lead to adjacent train cars.


Laura September 2, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I feel guilty admitting this, but the truth is, I probably wouldn’t have offered to help the man either…at least not if I was a driver in the lanes (I may have once I’d gotten out of the lanes and could pull over or if I were a passenger)…but I can picture this scenario at my local Chickfila; it’s extremely crowded, with a high volume of cars which usually wraps around the building and sometimes on to the main street. I can only imagine the chaos that would reign if the drive thru lanes stopped…even for just 5 to 10 minutes. Plus I wouldn’t want to block people and make them late getting back to work, school, etc. It seems like the safest thing to do would be to keep the traffic flowing. Which is why I don’t begrudge the cars for going around the OP, either.

But, that said, I can definitely understand being disappointed that no on else asked if they needed help. While I totally understand people being in a hurry, being afraid of being sued, maybe not wanting to embarrass the man, or not being sure how/if they could help, I can also understand being sadden no one was more chivalrous when 2 older ladies were struggling to help a disabled man up.


Kara September 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm

If you expect people to be mind readers and just “know” that they should offer you help, then you are going to end up disappointed.

If you need/want help, then you need to ask for it.

Two people (elderly or not it makes no difference) helping a third up off of the ground, and no one of the three is shouting “help” or otherwise indicating that additional help is needed? I probably wouldn’t have stopped either… I would have assumed that things were well in hand and that I shouldn’t interject myself into a situation where I might just be getting in the way. Because I am not a mind reader.


CW September 3, 2014 at 6:39 pm

I have to agree with you. If she was attempting to help him get up and realized it was more difficult than she thought, the reasonable thing to do (or personally, what I would have done) would be to walk inside and request someone to assist in the situation. I don’t expect anyone to just assume I need assistance.


Steve September 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm

So there’s no way anyone could surmise that two old ladies would have any difficulty lifting an overweight man up from the ground absent extra sensory perception? That’s what we’re going with here?


CW September 4, 2014 at 6:34 am

Well if I’m reading the post correctly she says,

“The elderly woman (his mother perhaps) and I helped him turn over and between him holding on to me and grabbing the door handle, he was able to get to his knees then get both feet on a level surface and finally stand up. I helped him into their car and shut his door.”

Now, aside from some serious reading between the lines, I’m picturing this man using the women as a brace, not two women trying to hoist up him completely off the ground. If I see a man supporting himself on a vehicle and two other bodies (male, female, old, young, whatever) and kneeling, I would gather that he’s on his way back to standing and was fine. Based on the description, I would not assume that they were in need of assistance. If she had said “we were trying to carry this man from the ground to the other side of the car and we’re old and he was very large”, that’s a different scenario and not the case here.


admin September 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

The alternative if the OP had not helped the man to his feet would have been that 911 would have been called and the local EMS or fire fighters would have come to assist. My son the paramedic says they do this quite frequently for downed people who cannot rise without help. It seems logical to me that it would be better to have a few car drivers stop and offer assistance than to have the entire drive through blocked by a large ambulance or fire truck.


Kara September 4, 2014 at 6:43 am

If the OP wanted additional help then she needed to use her words and speak up. Saying nothing while silently stewing over the injustice of it all was not an effective strategy.


Steve September 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Are you not struck by the hilarity of insisting that no one could possibly tell when someone else needs help unless they say so — in a thread where the whole story is about a poster who helped someone without being asked to?


j. September 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I would have pulled around the OP. No way am I leaving my kids in the car (especially with the engine running!) to assist a stranger. I’m okay with that making me a horrible person.


Anonymouse September 2, 2014 at 7:03 pm

I agree in part here. I think it would have been great if others had stepped in to help in this situation, but I know there are lots of reasons people might choose not to (bystander effect, personal or perceived ability, and potential liability being just a few). Some of them might just be selfish and wanted their food right away, but without knowing their exact thought process it’s hard to say whether or not it’s “rude.”

As far as the alleged line cutting, OP wasn’t ready to order, being busy helping the man up. Others were ready, so it’s ridiculous to expect them to wait. Essentially, OP gave up her place in line to help the man. When the man was up and the OP was ready to order, she rejoined the line. No etiquette violations there that I can see.


Anonymouse September 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Additionally, the restaurant likely asked people to move ahead rather than wait for you. They need to keep the line moving. Waiting for one person while there’s 20 others needing to be helped is a complete waste of their time. (That being said, they probably should’ve sent a manager out to help deal with the situation, but that’s another story.)


MichelleP September 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

I’m with other commentars that the people in line weren’t really rude. I’m a nurse and even I wouldn’t necessarily get out and help someone who didn’t clearly need it. I agree that the other lane needed to keep moving, also. If everyone had gotten out of their cars and blocked the lanes, at the Mcd’s where I live the traffic would be backed up into the highway. (Which has happened, with accidents resulting.) The man was not having a major medical problem, he simply needed to be helped up and he was. Let’s not look for rudeness where there really isn’t any, shall we?


MichelleP September 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

This reminds me of an incident that happened when I was a young teen. My family and I were in a line at an amusement park. The line was inside, with several different exhibits. The family directly in front of ours stopped moving ahead with the line and kept looking down into one of the exhibits. Apparently they were taking pictures and had dropped their camera into the display, and were now trying to figure out how to get it back. We went around them. A minute or so later, I looked around and my sister had a weird, upset look on her face. My mother was going off on the mother of the other family. I didn’t hear what the other woman said, but apparently she made a remark to my sister, who was an adolescent, that we shouldn’t have gone around them, we should have waited. My mother was and still is a very kind and patient woman, but the one thing you didn’t do was talk to her kids when you should talk to her. She told the woman that we had no obligation to wait for them to climb into the exhibit to get their dropped camera, especially when there were signs posted no flash photography, and do not EVER talk to a child if she had a problem. She was right.

I am not comparing someone needing help to a dropped camera, but the concept is the same. No one else should be inconvenienced or put in danger by a choice others have made, except in an emergency.


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