Dear PoPville – What Would You Do?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Paul Sirajuddin

“Dear PoPville,

Over the weekend, I encountered two situations where I witnessed really drunk women who were in the presence of un-compassionate men. I was wondering what should I do as an observer? Call the cops? Scenario one: Woman getting out of a cab with a man who barely helped her get out or even stand up or walk. He seemed really disinterested in helping her as she stumbled to their destination (she was so drunk that she couldn’t even walk on the sidewalk and kept on falling into the street). He walked behind her and did not seem like a friend or bf AT ALL. Scenario 2: Drunk and possibly high woman at the bus stop, surrounded by men. She was so out of it that she could barely hold up her cigarette. I believe that she wasn’t in the right state of mind to be where she was at 10 pm at night.

I’m not saying that these men are going to hurt these women, but if I was in a state of mind like that, I’d be really scared of what could or might happen. So all in all, what can bystanders do? Would cops come to the rescue?”

78 Comment

  • Whoa, so you’d prefer LESS concern? You prefer to read about crime after the fact, and then post “I’m sorry that happened to you, but…”? Conversation about best practices is helpful.

    I’ll be looking forward to some good brainstorming about how to minimize the harm that can come from situations described above.

  • I’d intervene.

  • You are a good person.

    You don’t do anything. I know it sounds terrible but it’s “none of you business”. You risk getting beat up by the men she is with or by the girl herself. She maybe so drunk that she thinks you are attacking them.

    If you see her getting physically abused then call the police. You may want to get involved at that point but knowing DCPD response time, you may get beat up anyway.

  • It’s always okay to call the police. They would rather deescalate a potential situation the. Have to deal with aftermath. And having uniforms around tends to keep everyone a little more polite.

  • would you have the same concern if it was the other way around- male drunk, female uninterested/not concerned

    • No you would not have the same concern. Some concern yes, but completely different implications.

      • please explain – I don’t get it

        • Don’t be daft. The instance of date rape and sexual assault against women is much higher than against men. I would probably feel concern for anyone who was in such a state, but you can’t pretend like gender doesn’t play a role in situations like this.

        • Is this a serious question, or just trolling?
          Men are bigger and heavier than women. Thus, a drunk incoherent woman is at more risk of harm from a bunch of dudes than a drunk incoherent dude is from a bunch of women.

  • Not exactly the right move given the above situations it would seem since the women appears to have known the men but i’ve done the following when I saw a woman confronted by a man that was clearly making her uncomfortable: I simply went up to them and said to the woman “hey Cindy (or whatever generic name you can come up with) how are you doing?

    That usually does the trick

  • epric002

    if you were really concerned, you could have tried to help, asked if they needed help, or been a visible presence so that others knew someone was watching what was happening. you can always call the cops, though i don’t know what they’d do other than escort the person home/to a hospital (public intoxication, D.C. Code § 24-604)

  • A woman was out unaccompanied at 10:00 pm?! Definitely call the police, she shouldn’t be out without a father, brother or husband to supervise.

  • If I were a drunk girl, I’d be weirded out by a male stranger “trying to help me.”

    • Exactly! Please trust the woman in question to know if or when she needs help. Although there are definite exceptions others have already mentioned. I would for sure call the police if someone is unconscious or I witness physical abuse.

      • In general I would agree – except if someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs then their ability to make good decisions can be significantly impaired.
        “If you see something say something” doesn’t only apply to a briefcase or package on the metro

    • If you were a drunk girl who got assaulted, you’d be on PoP on Monday morning wailing about how “no one did anything”.
      It’s never wrong to offer assistance. Even just “can I call someone for you”?

  • Scenario 1: Jack Squat. A dude has the right not to help a lady out of a car. Both have the right to be silent getting out of a cab. Not all people are touchy/feely lovey/dovey. Nowhere in your scenario do you indicate any crime was committed, so why are you asking about police?

    Scenario 2: Not enough information, but probably also jack squat. You didn’t indicate in your scenario that the men were doing anything except standing in close proximity to this lady. Did you witness a crime? If so, call the police. If you witnessed no crime, you can stay around long enough to see if one develops (you didn’t give any information in your scenario to indicate that one was even about to occur), or you can move along.

    I think this is a ridiculous post.

    • Agreed. For all you know that guy might be her best friend in the world who is thinking to himself “Aw shit, she’s drunk again. Maybe if I stand back a little, I won’t get puked on this time!”

      See a crime, report a crime.

      See something else, create hysteria?

  • ….this is assuming, of course, you get a compassionate cop. There are also some bad eggs on the MPD.
    At this point, it would take a serious act of in-progress violence to get me to call the police.

  • similarly, but a little different – my fiancee and I were out for a walk a few months ago in adams morgan. it was around 8pm on a saturday, we saw a 21-ish year old girl sitting on the steps of an apartment building but she was asleep, leaning against the stairs. Im a mid-20s female and decided to approach her to see if she was okay, maybe she just lived there and was locked out/was waiting for someone. It turned out she was from VA and had been out at bars for the past few hours with friends but they had left her behind to continue bar hopping. She was so drunk she couldn’t even tell me where she had been or where her friends went. She had also lost her purse so she didn’t have anyID or cash to take a cab. She did have a cellphone, so we tried calling a friend from her phone book but the friend ended up not living in the area. She was having a really hard time staying awake so my fiancee flagged down a police officer who got in touch with someone to pick her up and waited with her until they arrived.

    I think its a good idea to just check in and make sure everything is okay.

  • i would trust the cops with a deliriously drunk woman.
    besides, we don’t need the state acting like our parents.

    • I’d be concerned about your first point too. The police might make the situation a lot worse for her. Then again, if she’d been roofied and was in danger it would be good to call them, even if they end up arresting her for it. It’s a tough call.

      • is one mobile if they’ve been roofied?

        op suggests that the two women were drunk.

        • Yes. Having been roofied, I was mobile and just appeared really drunk. My friend who was roofied with me was also walking around, albeit aimlessly.

        • I have also been roofied. I was somewhat mobile…less as the vomiting increased. Another friend was roofied and could not stop running away from us at full speed (again, until the vomiting started)

          We both appeared highly intoxicated, not drugged. Even to me, who had been roofied before, didn’t even occur to me that she was not just drunk. When I was roofied I don’t think I put it all together until the next day or two.

  • You realize that men and women are responsible for their own behaviour and if she chose to get blotto that was here call. Perhaps the men with her were so tired of her irresponsible behaviour and inability to pull her shit together and get help or not to drink. She’s seemingly over 21 and no crime was being committed.

    Personal responsibility is gender blind

  • +1 to Tim and Epric002. (And I’m surprised at the negativity on this thread. Sheesh! How is it a bad thing to be concerned for the welfare of your fellow human beings?)
    If something seems wrong to you, call the police and/or (depending on whether you want to involve yourself personally) call out, “Excuse me, ma’am/miss — do you need any help?”
    I’d be somewhat less concerned about Situation #1, because it sounds as though the woman at least knows the guy she was in a cab with. In Situation #2, it sounds as though these are men that the woman doesn’t know.

  • In a case like this, I don’t think there is anything wrong with not intervening. you weren’t witnessing a woman being harassed or any other crime. I think intervening (while noble) would have been a bit patriarchal. Especially the first situation.

    • Count me as one young woman who wouldn’t mind a stranger’s “patriarchal” behavior. Seriously, though, a little chivalry never hurt anyone, and I’d welcome it. Saying, “Actually, no, I don’t need your help,” would take all of two seconds and wouldn’t offend me the least. I’d be more offended at my own behavior for a) getting that drunk, and 2) hanging out with losers. I’m not sure what I would do in the two scenarios outlined, but this story is another reminder that people need to drink responsibly and watch their drinks at all times in public places.

  • Scenario #1 is tougher call, but I would discreetly watch to see what happens at the door. If it looks like the woman does not want the man to come in with her – call the police.

    Scenario #2 I’ve actually done lots of times, but I’m a woman. If I see anybody, male or female clearly out-of-it drunk alone on the street I ask them if I can help them get somewhere, or call a friend. (Caveat – for drunk derelict-types, I don’t approach but call the cops.) I’ve taken drunk unknown women home a couple of times. If you’re a male, I’d suggest you try to enlist some other women to approach the drunk woman. If you’re in a bar area – U St., Adams Morgan etc. – go into a nearby bar and ask some women to approach the lone drunk woman. Or ask the dooman to contact police.

    Seriously – this is not a “mind your own business” type thing. We need to look out for each other. In my many years of bartending I’ve seen & dealt with plenty of messed up people. I once took away a drunk guy’s keys and put him in a taxi, only to learn a couple of days later that he got out at the next block to find another place to drink, passed out on the street and froze to death.

  • – If you’re prepared for the possibility of a rude response, you might wander over and ask generally something like “You guys need any help”? Beyond that, I’d say keep your distance — or call 911 if the situation seems even more concerning. I’m not clear about scenario #2 – but in both situations, the women, while impaired, were apparently with men that they knew, with nothing to indicate that the situation was an emergency that would warrant intervention from police or strangers.
    — That said, I want to commend you for extending the boundaries of “neighbor” and “community” wide enough to include compassion for people you encounter who appear to be in distress.
    — I’m saddened by the lack of compassion in many of these posts. Based on my skimming of yesterday’s posts, I’m startled by how much more compassion kitties are likely to receive compared to potentially vulnerable people — although I realize that the responses are likely coming from different PoPvillagers.

  • skj84

    Honestly what’s the worst response you’re going to receive from the drunk women? “No I don’t need your help.” I think if something seems off it’s best to intervene. There is nothing wrong with compassion towards others.

    • …you think a woman so drunk she can barely stand is, at worst, going to politely tell you she’s good?


    • Compassion towards others and getting involved in their business are two totally different things.

  • Pull out your iphone 5s and log the location into the sketch app

  • I am the sort that would probably ask if “everything cool here”…but that being said, I think a lot of the responses are because Kitties aren’t usually buttheads, while overall, people have a general tendency to be just that.

  • If you had a bad feeling, you should always trust your intuition. If you see something, say something. Always keep yourself safe but a simple phone call to police or even approaching someone is not always going to end with you getting hurt. And it’s sad assumption that many people constantly think they are endangered simply for making a simple inquiry.

    This drunk girl might not have been appreciative at the time. But trust me when her honor is intact the next day, I promise you she would have been grateful.

  • This is easy, use your judgment.

    We can all sit here after-the-fact and judge what they would have done. Maybe these men were annoyed because once again this person got drunk and absconded from drinking responsibly. I could see how they may let her walk on her own but not let her get herself killed. Personally, I’ve had to physically pick people up from the grown who don’t stop drinking when you ask them to. That gets old.

    Asking “is everything is cool” seems reasonable, see what response you get and let that dictate your next action.

    That said, if you have any inkling that someone (man or woman) is in serious danger, call the police.

    What you shouldn’t do? Pop out your camera and video someone in a bad situation.

  • I have asked someone if they were ok and have either gotten a yes, or they needed some kind of help, helped someone carry a stranger home who was passed out on the grass on 16th with their friend when even a cab wouldnt pick them up, asked if I was ok. Srsly, when is asking another human being if they were ok a bad thing to do? I am obviously not talking about someone who is mentally ill and on the street high or drunk outta their gourd (although I have a lot of compassion for these folks and if they were in trouble Id call the police). I am not sure where we lost instinct.

  • Drunks are often a-holes. Rude, inconsiderate, and abusive. Potential victim or perpetrator, who knows, but definitely drunk enough to ruin an evening. I don’t think there’s enough in these vignettes to warrant swooping in to save the day. Different scenario, sure, call the cops.

  • Many (MANY) years ago I was at Mr. Eagans with friends. My drink arrived with a cockroach swimming in it. The bartender (rightfully) felt like s**t and kept serving me free drinks all night to make up for it. I didn’t really notice or think about it, but I do remember being outside later with the world spinning. I’m still not sure how I got home.

    People – just help each other! It isn’t that hard!

    • i’m pretty certain 99% of us reading would help if what we witnessed and intuited was something beyond someone just being drunk. but it’s really hard to actually know based on the words provided.

      • What in the world does that mean? ” I’m pretty certain 99% of us reading would help if what we witnessed and intuited was something beyond someone just being drunk.”

        Biggest hunk of nonsense ever! You seem to be saying no one should respond to help a fellow human being if you think (intuit??) that their distress is due to a disease that you don’t yet understand or accept as valid?

  • Having dated a woman similar to situation 1, I remember times when we’d get back to one of our places and she would be completely drunk and, if I tried to assist her, accusing me of being judgmental or hating a good time. I learned to give her wide berth when she was drinking too much, which was frequent. So, given my experience in that situation, which may differ vastly from others’, I would not intervene in situation 1.
    As for situation 2, as a dude, I’m not sure there’s a way I could intervene directly without getting my ass kicked. But there also isn’t much information there other than a drunk woman being at a bus stop that also happened to have a lot of guys.

  • “Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” – Martin Luther King

    • You can’t be serious with this. We’re talking about some people who went out and got drunk, not the genocide of an indigenous people.

  • I’d think twice about calling the police to assist a drunk person. Public intoxication is in fact a crime in the District and you don’t know how the police will handle the situation, or how the drunk person will react to the presence of police.

    You might get some (particularly) a-hole cops responding to the call who decide to take the woman to jail to ‘teach her a lesson’.

    FYI: D.C. Code § 25-1001 (c):
    No person, whether in or on public or private property, shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of himself, herself, or any other person or property.

  • I saw a really drunk girl dancing her way home between 11th and 13th on Harvard NW early in the summer at about 3:30 on a Saturday morning. very attractive and completely oblivious to anything going on around her, as she had headphones on. I was driving by and honestly felt like saying something to her because, in my opinion, she was doing everything to make a target of herself. I figured that would be awkward and a bit paternalistic, so I just kept on going and hope she got home safe.

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