3 couples sit chatting around a campfire. The sun is low and the birds are settling down for the night, only the insects and the flowing river remain busy. As the couples swap stories, drink, eat and laugh a motionless sheep floats by down the river. Thinking that he saw something one of the men gets up, beer in hand and walks curiously closer to the riverbank. Two more sheep float by, he shouts "Guys, come look at this, there's something going on with this river" before the man takes his next breath another sheep appears in the river this time the sheep's head is stretch up to the sky, the dimming sunlight highlights the normally not seen white of the sheep's eyes as it try's to keep its head above water - its scared possibly terrified. Hooves splash water as the legs flail, this is a fight for life. Two more distressed sheep churn down the river fighting this same fight of survival.
All 6 campers are now on their feet witnessing this spectacle. Dave, the man whom had been the first to notice something in the river, runs back to the campfire to put down his beer and grab his mobile phone as this he believes this is something worth recording - what a mad story this is going to be for his workmates when he gets home. Dave's wife Debbie is not happy about this and the whole campsite know it because the summer breeze carries her continually repeated 5 words "Do something Dave, do something" as she paces near to the water and back to the campfire. Debbie is crying while she shouts at Dave. She pulls at her own hair and shields her eyes away from the drowning sheep.
More sheep churn down the river but Sarah and Sally are on route to help. Posh jackets are ditched on the river bank and both are already in the water. Sally makes contact first she has a sheep in her arms but cant control its wildly kicking legs, she has it safe from drowning but she is stuck in the middle of the river just desperately trying to keep hold of it. Sarah manages to grab at another, this sheep seems weak maybe hurt, its not fighting but its heavy, all that water soaked fleece plus the weight of its body Sarah struggles to carry it to the bank and shouts out to Debbie and Dave for help dragging it in. Dave is reluctant to get wet or dirty but he does agree to help only if Debbie will carry on filming it. After a minute of explaining the importance of Debbie calming down so that the video isn't shaky and unviewable Dave hands her the phone and slides down the riverbank to assist Sarah in getting the sheep out.
More sheep keep coming and a crowd of people starts to build. Some people are watching, some people are filming, some people get in the water only to a level that doesn't effect their clothes and they shout their opinions and instructions. Some people jump straight in and are pulling sheep out as quick as they appear, while others that jumped straight in now find themselves in trouble and require saving also. Dogs run and bark, kids scream, some people are so angry that the dogs are off lead and adding stress to the drowning sheep whilst other upset people argue that the kids should not be witness to such chaos.
Justin and Joe, our other camping couple appear with the campsite manager. The manager is panicked to see all these people, its danger everywhere and possible lawsuits and claims if anyone gets hurt - he wants the crowd to disperse but there's too many people for him to battle alone so he phones back to the office to send extra staff. The campsite staff start to get some control of the crowd and more than half of the onlookers eventually leave. Four hours have now passed, a number of sheep have been saved but everyone is done in, tired, emotional, cold, wet, muscles hurt and some minor injuries have occurred. They with hope look up the river to check there are no more drowning sheep travelling towards them. For this moment there is not.
The next day the campsite buzz is all about the drowning sheep, well less about the sheep and more about the people involved. Everyone had a story to tell whether it be their amazing achievement and heroism or their rage at other peoples mishandling of the situation but either way everyone was talking about it. That evening our 3 couples were chilling out having a BBQ when an old man approached the group "Evening all" he said as he tipped his cap "sorry to trouble you but I was told that 2 girls in this group saved some of my sheep is that right?" Dave and Debbie laughed "2 girls? I think you will find that we ALL saved your sheep, it proper interrupted our nice relaxed night that we were having". The old man looked worn as he glanced around the 6 people, he took off his hat and started tapping it on his thigh "oh right, I am sorry about that, I was told 2 girls got straight in the river and stayed in there until the end" the old man said. Sarah and Sally smiled "we did do that" replied Sally "both Sarah and I are that way I suppose, we will always try and help people if we can - well people, animals its all the same, if you can help you should, right?" Dave and Debbie rolled their eyes. Justin stood up and walked closer to the old man "We went and got the campsite manager last night we didn't think to look for a farmer or farmhouse. Well at least its all sorted out now anyway". The old man put his cap back on, gave a glancing smile to all said thank you to Sarah and Sally and started to walk away. Dave stood up and shouted "Hey what were your sheep doing in the river anyway did your sheepdog phone in sick or what?" "No" replied the old man "someone didn't shut the gate" he took his hat back off his head and held it out in front of him pointing a short distance up river to the gate. "There's a gate?" everyone said.
I made this story up because so often we are in fire fighting mode (sheep saving mode) and not looking at what is causing the problem in the first place. In this story if someone had just questioned why the sheep were in the river then they would of looked, seen the gate, walked up stream and closed it - no more drowning sheep for now. Another highlight of the story is that we are all totally different and when faced with the same incident we do not process what is happening the same as each other, we do not react the same, we do not experience it the same, we do not recall the information the same. This is why witness testimony can be more of a hindrance than a help to the police sometimes i.e. the bank robber wore a red hat and a green coat. The CCTV shows that the robber never had a hat on and his coat was blue.
Next time you find yourself in a difficult situation take a breath and a moment to think before you react as your emotions can remove logical thought and sometimes makes you more stupid than you thought you could be. Fight or flight is forcing you to do something right there and then but its your fight or flight so that means you can control it once it hits. Controlling your breath is the first step and logical thought is your second. Don't think that other people will step in and handle the situation in the manner you want them to as even if they have just gone through the same thing as you have they are not experiencing it in the same way that you are.