What would you do?

I linked to this video last week on my Twitter account with two separate tweets.

The first was all, “This city done lost its damn mind.”

The second was all, “God bless the gentlemen that helped her.”

Now, the video is here. I’m not going to embed it because I keep thinking, “What if that was my sister?”

The video is starting to go viral, so I thought maybe we should chat about it.

1. I get how that’s a weird thing to see in the middle of the street, in the middle of the city, in the middle of the afternoon, and if I’m being honest and I had been walking by, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have initially snapped a cell-phone picture from the sidewalk without really thinking about it.

I hate that. I wish I could say for certain that had I been there, I’d have immediately rushed to help her. I don’t know that I would have. I know for certain that I would have eventually helped her once I realized she was legitimately not well, but I think my first reaction would have been to chuckle all, “This heat is gettin’ to errrybody. [snap snap] [upload] [send].”

Realizing that about myself is going to force me to take note and be sure that I’m more careful the next time I see something like this.

Like, see the Running Lady, take a picture to prove she’s still running and bow down to her awesomeness. Crazy old lady laying pounds of bird seed in Mellon Square for Satan’s minions? Shame her publicly with great gusto and finger-wagging. Dude standing on the corner busting a move to music it seems only he can hear? Snap a video and post it all, “This guy kinda rules.”

Half-naked woman standing in the middle of a busy downtown street clearly not mentally well or clearly under the influence of something and putting herself in danger for an extended length of time?


2. On the other hand, if she was drunk or high, is it really our responsibility to care considering she’s doing it to herself? I’ve watched enough Intervention on A&E to say yes, we still have to care, but what do you think?

3. How would this have played out before the cell phone?

4. There are many videos of this incident, this longer version with the most views. For a special dose of hate, read the comments to the video and then place your trust wholly in the Karma Boomerang finding the tender asses of each one of those racist assholes and lodging itself so deep that they’ll need a butt-doughnut for at least a month.

5. Reminder to self: In addition to the “I brake for tunnels” shirt and the “Jagoffs make me stabby” shirt, get busy designing the “I live in fear of the Karma Boomerang” shirt.

6. If it’s you in the video that ran into the street and DIRECTLY UP TO HER FACE AND HER ACTUAL BUTT to take a picture … I just … I don’t want to be Judge McJudger the Judge of All Things Judgey, but that was NOT VERY NEIGHBORLY OF YOU.

Somewhere, Mister Rogers shakes an angry blue sneaker at you.

7. So, to sum up.

Running Lady: Picture. We love her.

Pigeon feeder: Picture. We need to make her stop.

Crazy half-naked lady in the street: Help her.

Mister Rogers: Probably pissed.


  1. Scott
    June 14, 2011 10:59 am

    This is proof that the Kaufmann’s Clock has an undeniable magic aura that affects anyone standing under or near it.

    Everyone reacts to it differently…..

  2. Lesley
    June 14, 2011 11:02 am

    I would never have taken a picture of her, but I can understand people not knowing what to think at first. So many people are doing wacky things to get “famous” on the interwebs, it has to be getting harder to tell who is truly in need of help and who is just acting like a fool. And the woman in the scrubs should be ashamed of herself for running up and taking that picture.

  3. Monty
    June 14, 2011 11:03 am

    Can I make a free-range diaper-clad toddler joke without going to hell?

  4. DG
    June 14, 2011 11:06 am

    That is really very sad, because there obviously was something seriously wrong. Whether it was a mental health issue or an addiction issue, I second your “God bless” of the gentleman who stepped in to help her.

  5. AngryMongo
    June 14, 2011 11:06 am

    First thought was that this was a flash mob gone horribly wrong…

  6. SpudMom
    June 14, 2011 11:08 am

    The second, longer video is making me nauseated.

    1) Catcalls egging her on. Fabulous. And gross.
    2) CROWDS of people filming her. Not just one or two, but 10 on each street corner.
    3) She almost got hit by cars more than once. Scary.
    4) A woman in scrubs filming the crazy. YOU ARE A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. Have some compassion.

    I, too, think the guy that helped her deserves an ice cream cone. I’m not sure that I would have approached her because sometimes people doing crazy things get violent without warning and she outweighs me (probably not by much, but she does). I wouldn’t want to get into an altercation just trying to help her. So, kudos to the gentlemen who calmly escorted her away. I hope he called the cops to help him once she was out of the street.

  7. Virginia
    June 14, 2011 11:09 am

    I’m going to hell for laughing at Scott, AngryMongo and Monty.

  8. Dan (Not Onorato)
    June 14, 2011 11:10 am

    OK so what happens if someone does the right thing and go up to help her and she goes all bat-shit crazy on someone?

    But I have to agree….I kinda miss the old days when there were no cell phones let along cell phones that take pics.

  9. Virginia
    June 14, 2011 11:11 am

    I agree, Dan. You just don’t know. I understand the hesitancy to help, but like you, I don’t understand the rushing up to her face to take her picture. If you’re going to get that close, might as well help the woman.

  10. stellabella
    June 14, 2011 11:20 am

    Wow. I don’t know what I would have done either. Looks like the guy who helped her was wearing a badge around his neck.

  11. LisaAnn
    June 14, 2011 11:23 am

    I wouldn’t have known what to do as well, and would have been scared to help as you never know how the mentally ill/people under the influence will react. I may have stared, I’m not perfect, but found myself shocked the young lady in scrubs felt the need to get a close up shot of her butt. I hope I don’t end up in whatever health facility she works in. I’m not saying they should be saints, but I would hope they would have a little more compassion than most.

  12. AngryMongo
    June 14, 2011 11:24 am

    Now, imagine if it was someone who looked like ScarJo or a Kardashian sister… well except for the one.

    Dan Sepulveda / Joe Manganiello for the ladies…

    just sayin…

  13. Lee
    June 14, 2011 11:50 am

    I have no idea what I would do, but honestly I think I would have called 911 to get some help. I don’t think I have the balls big enough to go up to a disturbed, half-naked individual to personally help, but my first instinct when I saw the video on FB was why is this person using their phone to video her and not using it to call for help?

  14. jennviolet
    June 14, 2011 11:56 am

    I too noticed the badge around the guys neck who helped her. Looks to be an undercover cop coming to her rescue. Thank goodness.

  15. Erin
    June 14, 2011 11:57 am

    I have a good sense of humor, but all I feel when I watch this video is angry and sad. I’m appalled at every one of those people taking pictures and laughing. Maybe they’ve never had a relative or friend with mental illness or a drug problem. It’s not funny. I also feel like Running Lady probably has a mental health issue, as does dancing-by-himself guy. I don’t think it’s cool to take pictures of them. Maybe I’m just in a foul mood today. I wonder if anyone knows the guy who rescued her – I would like to see him get some sort of recognition.

  16. gunnlino
    June 14, 2011 12:03 pm

    Do you need any further proof that our culture has gone down the shitter than the clowns on the street with the camera phones .
    Their collective behavior is a sad, sad commentary on our society .

    ( steps down from soap box )

  17. Virginia
    June 14, 2011 12:03 pm

    Erin, you have a valid opinion, so no worries. I just wanted to tell you that I’ve met Amy, The Running Lady, in a professional setting and she didn’t strike me as being crazy. She might run to stay sane, though.

    She’s a treasure, I think. Not something to be mocked, but celebrated. Which is how I view her.

  18. unsatisfied
    June 14, 2011 12:04 pm

    if she instead was doing her dance in the bus lane on fifth ave in oakland, the bus would have run her over.

    location, location, location….

  19. Jake
    June 14, 2011 1:31 pm

    So… Am I missing something? How is it obvious that she’s mentally ill? Does anybody else commenting here work on Smithfield or Wood? Do you know how many whackjobs there are along the bus lanes that just do stupid things for the sake of doing them?

    On a normal day, I would just assume she was a moron trying for some attention. But I also can’t see her face in the video or look into her eyes for the tell-tale signs of inebriation or a vacancy that would denote a problem.

  20. JenEngland
    June 14, 2011 1:37 pm

    Boy, I have a lot of strong feelings about this. I’m with you Ginny. Shame on everyone who didn’t help her. I hope I’d call 911 and then make sure she didn’t get hit by a car at the very least.

    As for the question of whether to help an addict as opposed to someone with a mental illness, I think its a good policy to err on the side of compassion, ALWAYS. I’d rather wrongly help an asshole than wrongly ignore a fellow human in need of help. Plus, people with mental illnesses are…Shoot I used to know the actual statistic…lets just say a whole heck of a lot more likely to have drug and alcohol problems, ESPECIALLY if they are low income because they don’t get diagnosed and effectively medicated so they self medicate to stop the voices, calm the mania, get through the depression. So Yes, even if she were high or drunk, there is a good chance she also had a mental health issue and was the “deserving” needy.

    But, as I said, I strongly believe human compassion is a good thing and even if she brought it on herself she deserves our help.

  21. Cassie
    June 14, 2011 1:39 pm

    What is wrong with people? This makes me sick.

    Why is compassion so hard to come by these days?

  22. Jaime
    June 14, 2011 1:44 pm

    My first reaction when Ginny posted this last week on Twitter was a sad commentary on society today. After the first few moments all I could focus on were the bystanders gawking and taking photos. I never once stopped to think how I would react or how I would hope that a witness would react if it was me or a relative.

    I can’t honestly stay how I would react. I would hope that I would have the willingness to help. But I’m not so certain.

  23. Pa-pop
    June 14, 2011 2:02 pm

    Seriously, if there was video of one of *your* sisters dropping trou and mooning a PAT bus, my fingers would fall off from clicking “replay.”

    I know I would have likely kept walking and then ultimately entered my own virtual penalty box “to feel shame.” My wife, on the other hand, would have been the first to lead her out of harm’s way and then kick my ass.

  24. Kristin
    June 14, 2011 2:20 pm

    I don’t think I would’ve approached her — that can be very dangerous. But I definitely would’ve dialed 911.

    A few years back, I witnessed a boy (intentional) in his early-20s spit on the homeless transsexual that sits near that same intersection. When the transsexual charged him, the lunchtime crowds were laughing and chanting for a fight. I called 911 because it was a scary situation that could get exponentially more out of control at any minute.

    It still brings tears to my eyes. What made that boy think that the homeless were somehow less than human? Worse yet, the crowd seemed to jump on that bandwagon. The same thing is evident in this current video. Crazy, not crazy, high as a kite or stone cold sober, she is a human being, and deserves to be treated with dignity.

  25. red pen mama
    June 14, 2011 3:29 pm

    I can’t bring myself to watch the video, I just can’t.

    But I have to weigh in re: cell phones. I read an article recently about a wife finding pictures on her husband’s cell phone of women. They weren’t in compromising positions, he wasn’t “sexting” as the kids call it, and he knew she was looking at pictures on his phone, so she wasn’t snooping. He said he just snapped the pictures of the women to look at them — and send them to other male friends. Like, “check out this hot babe I saw in the coffee shop.”

    This — and video taping/photographing a possibly mentally-ill woman in the street AND SHARING THE VIDEO — is a violation of what is decent and good. is the guy taking pictures of women in a public place unbeknowst to them doing something illegal? Probably not, but it’s not right, and IMO, rather icky. The people video taping this woman are beyond the pale.

    the old cliche “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” occurs to me here. I take pictures of my kids and share them on my blog and on Twitter. there will probably be a day when they ask me not to, and I will abide by that. We’ve all viewed flash mobs on YouTube; clearly those participants are aware their actions may be shared — they may be counting on it. This woman needed assistance, not to be violated. Shame on those people.

    (gets off soapbox.)

  26. red pen mama
    June 14, 2011 3:30 pm

    Also, I probably would’ve kept walking and possibly dialed 911. No way I would have approached her. I wouldn’t have mocked or photographed her either. So, yeah, that’s my take.

  27. burghbaby
    June 14, 2011 3:50 pm

    I’d like to know what was going on in the bus driver’s head. More than anyone else who is visible in the video, he or she had an *obligation* to report the situation. There was a person who was clearly preventing the bus driver from doing his or her job effectively. It makes no sense to honk aggressively and inch forward towards someone who could have been up to any sort of nonsense. That’s pretty much the Port Authority’s way of operating, though, isn’t it? Bullying, rudeness, and a general lack of concern for human beings?

  28. Virginia
    June 14, 2011 3:52 pm

    “Testify, amen, and that’s church” to BurghBaby.

  29. Julia
    June 14, 2011 4:01 pm

    I have worked downtown for awhile, and developed a pretty good sense of tunnel vision and temporary deafness any time I walk around Wood Street or parts of Smithfield. Although I hadn’t heard of this before now, it doesn’t surprise me. There was a bum in Oakland once who would run through moving traffic on Forbes Avenue with his pants down screaming. Also a dejected, disheveled woman who would walk around with a walker just to get people to feel bad enough for her to give her money. She could walk just fine. Would I have stopped to help this woman in the video? Nope. I tend to err on the side of caution for my own personal safety and put compassion second. Maybe that makes me sort of an asshole, but oh well.

  30. Robin
    June 14, 2011 4:20 pm

    Amen BurghBaby. You can clearly see the Bus #. Perhaps that should be looked into.

    I am sick and sad about the world today.

  31. Scott
    June 14, 2011 4:27 pm

    Robin, and others with the “what has society come to” take on the situation….let’s be honest and frank about this. Mistreatment of people like this sad woman, and openly mocking them or much worse, including violence against people like this lady are hardly something unique to today’s society. This kind of reaction has been around for hundreds…even thousands of years. I am not condoning it. To the contrary, I agree with the folks here who would have kept my distance and called 911. But to declare that this is somehow new is pretty naive. Its part of human behavior…a disgusting part, no doubt, but something that’s been part of societies since the beginning. The addition of camera phones doesn’t make it any different.

  32. Lisa
    June 14, 2011 6:47 pm

    More like a flesh mob gone horribly wrong
    [I know, I’m going to hell too.]

    I hope she got the help she needed.

    When I worked at Kaufmann’s in the early 90s, you could always find the police patrolling that area, even during the day. It was probably better that it was handled the way it was, because adding squad cars and sirens to that would have only made it worse.

    In all fairness, the bus driver may have called the situation in to HQ, there’s no way to know. And maybe s/he was hoping to get that woman to move out of the street by being all passive aggressive with the bus.
    But BurghBaby is right about the PA.

  33. Burgh Bird
    June 14, 2011 10:05 pm

    Sad. If you want to get angrier, read the yinzer comments on the Freak Show’s page under the videos.

  34. Burgh Bird
    June 14, 2011 10:12 pm

    OK, maybe all those comments weren’t quite so bad…it was the first 2 in the window that I could read….

  35. YinzerInExile
    June 14, 2011 10:25 pm

    Do we actually know that she’s mentally ill? Because I see a lot of pity floating around for a person who may neither need nor want same. She could just be nutty. Not, like, Thorazine-and-wall-padding nutty but like, you know, mostly benevolently nutty. If she’s the latter, then most everyone here sounds like Europeans discovering the new world and feeling very bad for all the natives who had not yet been given the gift of shame.

    My point being that, just because I see someone doing something that I wouldn’t do–or even something considerably beyond the bounds of social expectation–I don’t assume that I should feel bad for them.

    For all I know, that woman was feeling bad for all the stuffed shirts passing her and missing all the breeze.

  36. Ms. CarolineFB
    June 15, 2011 12:00 pm

    I’m ashamed of myself for watching that video and of every single person who took advantage of that situation, regardless of her state of mind.

  37. Carol
    June 15, 2011 12:19 pm

    I think…I would’ve been cautious and kept my distance, but I would’ve called 911. Not proud of that, but our society today has resulted in a net loss of impulsive compassionate tendencies.
    I think/hope every person who immediately stopped to take pictures and videos, or started egging her on will meet that karma boomerang much sooner rather than later.

  38. Ry Co 40
    June 15, 2011 3:09 pm

    YinzerInExile FTW:

    “For all I know, that woman was feeling bad for all the stuffed shirts passing her and missing all the breeze”


  39. VAgirl
    June 15, 2011 8:24 pm

    Did the man who helped her have a Philly’s hat on?
    I am not sure if I would have approached her but would have called 911. I also would have waited to see if she needed further assistance. Mob mentality at its’s finest.