Not All Heroes Wear Capes

When Darren, an ex-resident at Equinox Rinstead Road, set out for the supermarket on Saturday, it was just a few bus stops away so he expected to be there and back within an hour. But the bus was very slow and when they got to the local petrol station in Sydenham, he saw a long queue of vehicles in and around the station. He saw a sign at the petrol station offering coffee for £1 and wondered why people were queuing up just for cheap coffee! Thinking no more about it, he eventually got his shopping and headed back. On his way back, there were still many vehicles queued up, including busses piling up with many people at the bus stops. Nothing seemed to be moving and no one seemed to be in charge. There were people with shopping, mothers with buggies and elderly people all trying to go about their journeys.

By the time he made it home with his shopping, Darren decided to check the Internet to see if there had been a major accident or construction. He even tried to call the police to find out what the issue was. Since he did not usually watch the news regularly, he did not know about the fuel crisis or that people were having to queue up to get petrol.

Darren decided there and then to go back to try to help. He started by first directing people so that the junction could be cleared, as the entire roadway was blocked in both directions. There were people getting caught up in the traffic who weren’t going to the petrol station but simply trying to go forward. Once he got the traffic moving through the junction, he decided to direct the traffic going into the petrol station. By this time, someone had stopped and given him a high vis yellow jacket. This made it easier for him to be seen and to get people in and out of the station efficiently. He began to check who were priority such as emergency workers etc. and expedited the process for them. He also checked what sort of fuel people needed and directed them to the correct pumps.

What started out as a desire to help get traffic moving because he had been caught up in it, turned into approximately 12 hours of directing traffic, interacting with motorists, and pointing them in the right direction and liaising with the petrol station attendant who was working alone. The attendant supplied him with food and drink, as did local people who provided coffee and food. Darren returned on Sunday, but things were quiet. Then on Monday, when he returned from his gardening and housekeeping job, there was chaos again, so he helped, from 8pm until 3am and again on Tuesday (his day off) from 8am to 3pm.

Darren’s efforts did not go unnoticed and many locals and motorists took to Facebook to express their gratitude and admiration. He was hailed as a local hero and there are calls for him to be recognized in some way. Comments included:

A little bit of sanity in a crazy world. Cheer’s mate, whoever you are.”

“Has Sydenham got some kind of community service medal he could be awarded. He surely deserves one.”

“That’s a nice thing to do there are some nice people around.”

“Bless him he deserves a medal. Well done!”

“Thank you we were stuck for so long until you came.”

For Darren, this was nothing big at all! He has no special experience or training in directing traffic but puts it down to his enhanced spatial awareness as he is always conscious of what is around him.

Darren’s keyworker Lloyd said: “For him to do something like what he did with the traffic, helping people, is out of his comfort zone. He wouldn’t have set out to get any praise but something that he feels we all should do. I think it’s nice that he gets some praise as he thinks people always have a go at him for the things he does wrong and forget about him when he does well. This made me proud.”

However, after speaking with Darren, I think that this is because of his heart and a need to contribute to his community.

Not many of us have helped someone during this fuel crisis as we have all resorted to joining the queues ate the petrol station to fill up our tanks. But have you thought of checking on the neighbours to see if someone has run out of petrol and needs a lift to a hospital appointment? Or how about car-pooling with a neighbour to get children to school so that you can both save petrol?

We can all take a leaf out of Darren’s book and try to help where we see a need.

Darren, SIG is PROUD of you and we salute you for your efforts!