John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and the South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.
Updated: December 19, 2012 11:43AM
Workers waving their hands, telling you to get off tracks, cars driving around you as if you don’t exist, panic clearly setting in — you’re 17, late for school, and yet, your initial concern is for the folks on the train, not yourself, nor your car.
Tinley Park High School senior and resident William “Billy” Anetsberger found the only treat he needed on Halloween. That treat was from Bremen Township Treasurer of Schools Joe McDonnell.
Anetsberger, who waited for a freight train on Halloween morning, ran out of gas as he was crossing the tracks one block east of the downtown Tinley Park Metra station. As quickly as his 2006 Chevrolet Cavalier ran out of gas, the next train was coming.
McDonnell instinctively got out of his car to help the young man, whose small frame could not push the car off the tracks, as the crossing gates began to ring and lower.
Just as quickly, McDonnell got back in his car and proceeded to work, never identifying himself.
Just a good Samaritan who did what you would like to think any adult would. Yet, cars drove around the young man, ignoring the situation. Some drivers encouraged Anetsberger to get off the tracks, but never offered help.
What prompts some to get involved, while others ignore such situations going on around them?
McDonnell said it best, “I have four kids of my own, and I was thinking, ‘Boy if my kids came across a situation like that, I hope somebody would be willing to help them out.’ ”
With three kids of my own, I would like to think that no matter what the situation they find themselves in, an adult would stop, step in and help. But the average person doesn’t want to get involved. Maybe it’s the fear of failure, a lawsuit, or just a plain, old, “I-don’t-care” mentality. Well, we need to care.
What if Jason McDaniel hadn’t cared and hadn’t reacted when he walked into the L.A. Tan in Orland Park as it was being robbed at gunpoint? He and two young employees would have been shot to death, not the assailant.
What if 16-year-old Carl Sandburg student Mackenzie Smith ignored the cries for help from a man who entered a no-swimming area at Lake Sedgewick? Smith and another man swam out to rescue the man, who apparently couldn’t swim. According to Orland Park Police, he would have drowned.
Who are these people who set aside their own well-being for those around them, and understand, “Do unto others as you would want done to you”?
It really boils down to the age-old story of four individuals. It’s the story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. Everybody was sure somebody would do it, and anybody could have, but nobody did.
Joe McDonnell did, and that good deed should not go unnoticed. Thanks, Joe, for being there, getting involved and for not turning your back on the young man when he needed an adult most.
I’m sure you’re reluctant, and don’t like the term “hero,” but sometimes, it just fits. Dictionary.com defines “hero” as, “A man of distinguished courage or ability; admired for his brave deeds, and noble qualities.”
I don’t think anybody would argue that. The Southland is full of everyday heroes. Who knows? You may be the next. The question is, will you be Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, or Nobody?
Only you can answer that.
John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.