If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 19 August 2012

What would you have done?

Long-time blog commenter Zaphod sent me a mail describing a dilemma he faced recently.  He was asking (rhetorically) what he should have done.  It reminded me of a couple of situations I have been in (one almost identical, last year), and I thought I would post it to see what others thought.

Here's what he sent ...

I was driving home very late at night, on a country road. I'd passed cats in the road, a few rabbits of course, a deer, and even a fox. What's next? Just round a tight blind bend, I found two cows broadside on!

It took a fraction of a second to dismiss the tired-driving-hallucination hypothesis, but I did stop in time. (I wasn't that tired, but I've known it to happen.)

Now what? Is this a 999 situation? I don't know the number of local Plod. And cows are a serious hazard, they've got less road sense than rabbits and they mass a lot more.

I did the 999.

Rough location, (road between X and Y). No, I don't know the name of the road, but there's only one road between X and Y. No, I don't know whose cows they are. My name, address, DOB, (?)

She didn't seem very interested. I said, "Look, I'm gonna stay with them for a bit. I've got my lights and hazards on, they're wandering along the road. I'll stay til the cops show up, or if they go back in their field I can maybe close a gate?".

15 minutes later they wandered into a field, but it didn't have a gate. I rang again. "Update, they're in a field opposite a farm entrance with the name Z on the gatepost. But if I leave they'll come out again."

Another 15 minutes, I got bored and went home.

I don't know what a cop could have done, but they've got access to more resources than I have. I wasn't gonna knock on a farmhouse door at 3:30am, a hippie in a transit van. They probably weren't his cows anyway, and farmers are notoriously shy of visitors, (and have shotguns).

Should I have stayed? I'd still be there? The cops never got back to me. Maybe the city girl on the 999 phone thinks that cows are of a size to fit in a burger? And as fast as squirrels?


Well, what would you have done?


  1. Well that was a great example of "Concerned Citizen".

    Sadly, the risk of multiple pile-ups on a country road is somewhat less than on a motorway.

    I suspect that at that time of the morning, particularly as it's (presumably) a rural location, the local cops had no resources available to deal with the situation.

    Shame that no one had the courtesy to acknowledge the public-spirited action. [I guess there's no 'Tick Box' for that amongst the myriad of statistics that have to be reported daily.]

  2. I'd have probably knocked, but then, being female, I know I'd be unlikely to be viewed as a threat.

    I'd ALSO have told the 999 operator that I was recording her end of the conversation and that, should anyone subsequently be injured, I'd make sure that recording went to the 'Daily Mail'...

  3. Zaphod managed to stop and given the low traffic density it could be assumed that a.n.o. would have been able to do the same - so maybe I would not have been so worried about staying there. I would have reported it.

  4. No farmer nearby? No cops?

    I'd call that free steak and burgers.

  5. I don't think I would have knocked on the door. I would have gotten them off the road and went on my way. Depending on when and where I would have called in it.

    Heading to Eastern Oregon this year on the bikes we had to do a quick stop because of a llama on the road. We just turned on the hazard lights and herded him with the bikes until he left the roadway. I am sure he probably wandered out again but it was a 5 lane highway so there was a lot of room.

  6. I passed the farm again tonight after work, at a more civilised hour.
    In daylight I could see that the big sign further into the drive, "No entry. Callers by appointment only."
    Not too unfriendly, as farmers go.
    I decided to go in, (to see if I could make an appointment).

    We needed closure on this anecdote, didn't we?

    A woman rushed out of the house before I'd got out of the van. She looked startled and defensive, but apparently unarmed.

    I told my story quickly, getting no reaction or encouragement.

    "So, where they yours?"

    No. And they're not cows, they're bullocks. (Hey, it was dark!) They've been running wild for a month, they're aggressive, and nobody can catch them. Nobody admits to owning them either, they're not from round here.

    So, it turns out that in this particular case, knocking on the door would not have been welcome.

    Is there a moral to this story?
    Just the old, "Drive so that you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear."
    It's not a guarantee, but it's a good start.

    Thanks for listening. :-)

  7. "Nobody admits to owning them either..."

    Barbecue at your place this weekend then..? ;)

  8. There's a logistics problem, Julia.

    First, catch your bullock. :-)

  9. In my plod days I answered a 999 from a japanese man trapped in a telephone kiosk in a very rural area at 1am. Yeah, right. Except it was true. There he was, all japanese and frantic trapped in the old red t/k. A 15 foot long 40 stone sow, all teats and trotters, snoring her piggy head off, slumped against the door.....

    see, I knew no one would believe me.

    1. Does your therapist know you have internet access?



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