Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
America’s newest national holy day is upon us — Black Friday. It seems we’re all co-opted into getting multinational retailers like Wal-Mart out of the red and into the black just in time for Christmas bonuses to their execs. Quite the achievement. The blog has chronicled the holiday spirit on display with one pepper spray assault by an exuberant shopper getting the best bargain available. All this despite the New York Times telling us that our friendly, apron-clad senior citizen’s employer might be holding back on the deals.
Now a report from South Charleston, West Virginia, that a male shopper collapsed at a local Target Store only to be ignored by his fellow bargain hunters. Walter Vance of Logan, West Virginia, was at the store at around midnight taking in the sights and buying some decorations for his family business. He collapsed in the aisle from an apparent heart attack. His fellow revelers saw no need for concern and, according to published reports, walked around and even OVER the dying man’s body. Only when an off-duty ER nurse arrived did someone try to administer CPR. Another off-duty paramedic offered help as well, but, in another sad “Time Is Tissue” case, it was too little and too late. Desperately ill, Vance was transported to a local hospital where he later died.
Had anyone looked up from the bargain bin they might have found out Walter was an American success story. He started part-time after school in a local drug store at age 16, and worked his way up to owning the store. Even got a pharmacy degree along the way at West Virginia University. He was, by all accounts, a tireless worker and good man. An “angel” is how one employee described him.
But no one took the time to find that out. No one took the time or expended the effort to aid the fallen man. No one cared for anything in this season of giving except getting the best deal you could get on the Xbox 360 or this year’s version of Call of Duty. And if that took walking over a dying man, so be it.
“Where is the good Samaritan side of people?” Vance’s co-worker and friend Sue Compton said. “How could you not notice someone was in trouble? I just don’t understand if people didn’t help what their reason was, other than greed because of a sale.”
Sue should know that Walter was done in by Spectator’s Disease. It’s loosely defined as the modern person’s “justified” response to any crisis or confict by surmising that someone else will handle it no matter how emergent the crisis or urgent the need to act. It removes any burden from the viewer who is, after-all, “not adequately trained” to help, or who “might get sued” if they kneel down to find out just what is going on with another human in obvious distress. Maybe it’s due to watching all those sporting events on TV and participating in none of them. Or maybe it’s TV itself which asserts and then solves all of its problems in 26 minutes or so, all without the response from those legions on the couch taking it all in.
For the late Walter Vance, age 61, life-long resident of the state, successful businessman, pillar of the community, and pilgrim to the Black Friday temples, it must have been quite the shock that almost no one came to his aid. As he lay there crumpled in pain, he must have wondered how bargains trumped beneficence, how deals mattered more than death, and how those earnestly preparing for a holiday dedicated to Peace on Earth and Good Will to Man, could have let this one man die without even a second thought.
Target had no comment on the tragic episode nor the behavior of most of their customers. They didn’t mention why a store with constant video monitoring did nothing to aid their customer either. Target is the biggest spectator of all, but they are quite willing to act if their interests are affected. You see, so long as those patrons slide their plastic in the slot, it doesn’t matter and their interests are quite well protected. Besides they are busy; they’re preparing for the greatest orgiastic expression of true capitalist piety — Christmas.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger