A friend of mine told me today that she ran into a woman she knows, who was severely banged up, as in all of her front teeth missing, her nose and lip split open and a metal plate on her chin holding the two halves of her jaw together. Turns out the woman was riding her bike down a hill, hooked the front tire and launched over the handle bars onto her face.

Yes, now is a good time to take a moment to suck the air in through your gritted teeth, cringe and put your hand to your face to relieve the sympathy pains.

Better now? Cuz there’s more.

She got up from the ground, surveyed the damage as much as possible and realized she was totally trashed, so she flagged down a motorist to ask for a ride to the hospital. The guy said no.

Now is the time to take a moment to assess what your response to her request would’ve been.

Because he looked her right in the bloodied face and said no, but I’ll sit right here in my car and call an ambulance. Uh-huh. And if your response would’ve been the same, you’re welcome to go be a Reader somewhere else. Seriously.

In his defense, I can report that he did finally relent to her request … after she begged him.

Stories like this bother me, and they make me wonder about my reaction in various situations. In this case, there’s no question, I’d be out of my car, helping her, driving her to the hospital. I believe most people would.

Sure, I get that he was probably worried about liability, like the time I saw a 6-year-old kid lying out in the middle of the street, crying, tangled up in his bike with his pant leg caught in the chain. I stopped to help, and while I was trying to get things untangled enough to get his pants freed, a motorist slowed down and asked me if I’d hit him. No. OK. And she drove off. Hey, thanks for the helping hand, hag. Yeah, I got the kid detached from the sprocket and both him and the bike delivered home to a harried mom.

No biggie. However, the un-Samaritan’s suspicious question did make me realize what the situation looked like, so I understand if the guy had a niggly doubt.

Still, how can you not help? I mean really help. It’s not as if the woman crashed half a world away where it’s easy to ignore and think of it as someone else’s problem; she’s bleeding and mangled right there in front of you. I’m shocked that someone in our small town reacted the way the guy did.

Then I sat down to write my column, and while perusing the news, I discovered some really and for truly good Samaritans in Sherman Oaks, Calif., who did something I only hope I’d be brave enough to do: They ran out into the street and pulled a 69-year-old man from his burning car, even as the giant fireball from the initial explosion was barely dying down. No kidding.

Not a one of them said, Ima let you finish burning, but I’ll just stand in the shade and call 911.

Those dudes rock at: pam@viewfromthenorth40.com