A couple weeks ago, I was inspired by microblogger Fiona Voss, who wrote, “Let’s start by swearing off tweetstorms, and posting those thoughts on our own sites instead. Don’t let Twitter own your epic wisdom.”
So when I read this tweetstorm by Whitney Pastorek about strangers of diverse backgrounds coming together to rescue a family in a minivan that had flipped over on a Georgia interstate, my first reaction was to share it. I know my father would like to read it, but he doesn’t understand Twitter, never mind tweetstorms.
I asked Whitney for permission to repost her story in a single post, so I could share it–andpreserve it for future reference, when I need an emotional powerup to hold onto my belief that people are basically good.
Whitney’s Tweetstorm Thread, May 26, 2018 (Follow Whitney on Twitter)
I want to talk about this accident. This thread is going to be somewhat melodramatic.
I was driving north, probably about a quarter mile away when this happened. I did not see exactly what occurred, just motion. A minivan came from the southbound lanes, flew over the median, and landed upside down in the northbound lanes.
Traffic slowed, then came to a halt, on both sides of the highway. People were pulling their cars over and getting out. I saw people running at full speed towards the vehicle. Literally abandoning their cars in the SB lanes and sprinting across the median.
On the left shoulder of the NB lanes, I saw a woman cradling a small child in her arms. Two women from the SB lanes came running with blankets they had pulled from their cars. A man ripped off his hoodie and threw it towards her. More people were stopping and getting out.
Because I was about 15 cars back in the same lane as the flipped car, I couldn’t see it. I could just see dozens of people, trying to help.
I knew it was bad. Up ahead of us, the highway was completely empty. No cars had passed the vehicle. No one was moving. Slowly, we started inching forward, merging to the right. As I got closer, I could see more. Two men had stopped their vehicles in the NB lanes, turned on their hazards, and were now out of their cars, standing in the middle of the highway, directing traffic.
Literally just two dudes wearing Saturday casual clothing, in the middle of I-75, calmly directing 18-wheelers on when to merge. I realized they had made a barricade with their cars to help protect the overturned van and the people surrounding it.
When I got closer, I could finally see around the stopped cars and get a better sense of what was going on. Flipped minivan. Family still inside. An imam had stopped his vehicle and was opening the trunk. A dozen people had their hands on the flipped car, looking inside.
The woman with the child was now sitting on the shoulder of the highway. The child was wrapped in blankets, and she was stroking its forehead. They were surrounded by other women. Everyone was so calm.
When I reached one of the men directing traffic, I rolled down my window and asked if they needed any more help. He said no, that they were pretty well covered, there was a nurse on the scene. In the distance, I finally heard sirens approaching. That man directed me on when to merge right, and the other man held up his hand to stop an 18-wheeler and motioned for me to pass through. I slowly pulled out onto the empty highway, because there was nothing for me to do but get out of the way.
This accident happened a few minutes south of that awful Trump billboard, the one that asked Jesus to help him “take our country back.” Although these days it’s asking Jesus to “drain the swamp,” it’s message has been clear for quite some time.
So let me be clear about the point of this whole story: The vast majority of the people who had jumped out of their cars in the middle of the interstate to help complete strangers were ethnic and racial minorities.
They were the kinds of people I can imagine that awful billboard (and every sign like it across this country) is directed towards. The kinds of people some folk think they need to get their country back from, whatever the fuck they think that means.
There were plenty of white folks helping, too - don’t get me wrong. The two men directing traffic, for example. Using their very best entitled white man skills for good, by literally putting their bodies in front of tractor-trailers and demanding they stop.
All these people. Together. Forgetting about themselves and doing whatever it took to help the strangers trapped in the overturned vehicle. FORGETTING ABOUT THEMSELVES FOR JUST ONE DAMN MOMENT.
Why does it have to take a possibly fatal, definitely horrific emergency situation like this to bring people together? Why is it easier to abandon your vehicle in the middle of I-75 than to care about your neighbor’s well being on a normal fucking Tuesday afternoon?
I don’t know how to wrap this up except to say that if you think you’re the kind of person who would have intervened in this accident today, you should probably start by making sure you are doing everything you can to help the people in your community who aren’t trapped in a car.
Help the people who are trapped by poverty. Who are trapped by racism and misogyny. Who are trapped by underperforming social services. Who are trapped by age or stereotype or whatever the hell else, I don’t know.
The cool part is you won’t even have to risk your life on a patch of hot asphalt to do it. You just have to start by GIVING A SHIT ABOUT SOMETHING THAT ISNT YOU.
Ok. Done now. Thanks for tolerating that.
The app ThreadReader did the Tweet stitching. I was glad to find that!