The man drove along the highway, cautiously and slowly as the fresh sleet pranced on the roadway with the chill of a new winter. Driven, the man concentrated on getting to the office, another day and another piece in the construction of his success. Reports, proposals, and bids occupied his mind, not thinking of the cold city just outside his window.
From the corner of his vision, he sees an elderly lady in his rear view mirror he'd just passed slip and fall on the ice. She lay sprawled out, clutching her hip and obviously unable to get up. The man pulled off the road, into a parking lot, cursing his luck because he was going to be late this morning. He ran back to where the lady had fallen, cars speeding by without slowing down.
"Are you ok?" he asked her as he bent over and got a closer look.
She replied with an inarticulate moan, and lay clutching her side. Her gray hair hung shoulder length over her aged and weathered skin, shining with a silver sheen that could have been beautiful in a dry, warm building. She was of a small stature, and had tattered clothes no doubt purchased from the Salvation Army. Grandmotherly would be an apt description.
The man looked at her hip, and saw that it was broken, but no bones were protruding and she would live if given the appropriate medical attention. He calls an ambulance. Satisfied that he'd performed his good Samaritan deed for the day, he leaves so he won't be late for work.
The paramedics leave the hospital on their way with the directions the man had given. Unfortunately, his directions had been mistaken by two blocks. After seeing that no one was around, they return to the hospital, unwilling to spend any time looking in such a poor part of town. They had completed their duty.
The sleet turned to snow, and the roadway became colder. The old woman had become a part of the landscape, and was not noticeable to the cars driving by on the highway. The motorists who did see her thought she was a bum--why else would anyone be lying on the sidewalk out in the cold that way? They didn't stop--their duty was not to enable bums to be bums--the cold might teach them to fend for themselves and work for a living.
The night passes, and so does the woman. Her children wait anxiously for her at the birthday party they had planned. None of them had seen her for the past year--they were busy with their own kids and families and businesses--but they always threw her a birthday party. They felt it was their duty. And so they sat around with the cake and 75 candles, waiting for her to come. And everyone was were sure she would come, because like good kids, they had arranged for one of them to send her a card inviting her to her party. That was their duty. Naturally, they couldn't spend too much time with a phone call or a personal visit--they had extremely important things to do. But they always made sure she knew she was loved by throwing her a party once a year. They never failed in doing this--their duty was done. They had done nothing wrong. The woman's grandchildren played with their latest toys slayed dragons and became super heroes.
No one did anything wrong.