Life can get hectic, so brief windows of alone time are sometimes precious. Yes, often during a journey between commitments, these small gaps in an otherwise busy day can be vital for our general well-being. So when Dorothy Lopez Ortiz was disturbed during her car ride to work, she assumed it would be a negative experience.
In the warm Las Vegas temperatures of June 15, 2016, Ortiz tackled rush hour on Interstate 15. With just over a half-hour drive, it was the perfect chance to start the day doing something she loves: singing. Not only a proven stress reliever, singing can help people stay positive throughout the day.
“I only have 35 minutes in the morning and 35 minutes in the afternoon so that’s when I just sing my heart out,” the bubbly mum-of-three told Las Vegas KSNV News 3. “I’m Mariah Carey at that time.” But her unhindered vocal cords were not her only indulgence that Wednesday morning.
Of course, Ortiz had her music playing exceptionally loud as she sang along in the heavy traffic. But as the musical mom bopped to her favorite tunes, she noticed a police car on her tail. Then, on instruction from the officer, she rolled down her window and braced herself for a ticket.
Ortiz revealed, “I was driving to work, and I noticed an officer following me… I just figured, he’s going to give me a ticket for something.” The disco diva was worried that she had taken her morning music session a bit too far. “I had the music blasting, and I thought he was pulling me over because of that,” she later wrote on Facebook.
So Ortiz was somewhat relieved when the cop didn’t issue her a fine for disturbing the peace. Instead, the officer told her that she had a flat tire on her car. But Ortiz was confused when, rather than just overtaking and leaving her to deal with it, the policeman remained behind her. “I just figured the officer was going to keep driving,” she said.
The law enforcer even remained in view as Ortiz pulled into the parking lot of a police station close to Russell Rd and Las Vegas Blvd. That’s when the officer’s real intentions became clear to the young woman. As he reached under the chassis, she watched in awe as a pure selfless act unfolded before her eyes.
Not only had the cop spotted the flat tire on her car, but he was now also trying to change it so that she could get back on the road. The gesture overwhelmed Ortiz, and she immediately took out her cell phone to take a picture of the generous man. However, he remained humble and turned his face away from the camera.
To share her heart-warming experience, Ortiz posted the picture of her hero cop on social media. “There really are good officers out there,” she wrote. “I had a flat, didn’t know about it. He pulled me over and tried to fix it. Thank you so much, Metro.” It was only then that the encouraging story really took off.
Within hours, many people had shared the snap with lots of likes and supportive comments. Ortiz had not expected that, and she told KSNV News 3, “It was like shares after shares after shares.” But she was delighted to see the officer getting the affirmation he deserved. “They do not get recognition,” she said.
Yet her followers on social media praised the officer, recognizing the story as “awesome.” One buddy gushed, “Love to hear stories about the good cops!” while another got very excited and even suggested Ortiz give him her phone number. But the cop was far from forthcoming and refused to speak about the turn of events.
Moreover, he would not talk to News 3, saying that he was “simply doing his job.” But what did the public think? The news channel took to social media to find out whether people thought he went above and beyond the call of duty, or if he was just doing his job. Its poll later revealed surprising results.
A massive 89 percent of followers felt the kind cop did in fact exceed his duties, while a much lower 11 percent believed he was obliged to change the wheel. He remained quiet on the subject, though, and didn’t respond to the poll. Ortiz, however, was not so camera shy.
Ortiz appeared on the popular news channel to express her sincere thanks to the man who helped her get to work. “Thank you very much. I really appreciate it,” she said. And a the story spread across the web, it picked up the hashtag #TheGoodStuff.
Not only that, but Ortiz also felt very lucky that he had spotted the flat tire when he did. “Everyone told me I could’ve gotten into a car accident,” she added. “At the end of the day, he did save my life.” And many readers of the story online also felt that he should be branded a hero.
“He could have sat in his cruiser and waited for her to get help or he could have left,” wrote one. “He did neither [and] is to be commended.” Another claimed, “That’s not his job. He went above and beyond.” Furthermore, the same follower wrote, “[It] happens all the time,” suggesting that there are more police officers going the extra mile for members of the public every day.
With smartphones and cameras more readily available, it has never been easier to gain evidence of these small acts of kindness and spread the word online. For Ortiz, the Las Vegas cop represented so much more than just a badge. Indeed, he had shown that officers are human too and can be kind and thoughtful like the rest of us.
The devoted mom also believed that he might have saved her life. Driving on a flat tire can be very dangerous, after all. For one thing, it can cause the vehicle to become unsteady and even swerve off the road. Related damage to the suspension can damage the driver’s control of the wheel as well, leaving them at risk of collisions.
As with many touching stories, social media played a big part in the virtual journey of this saga. Ortiz sharing the photo of the cop at her wheel sparked huge reaction among her Facebook buddies. This in turn prompted news coverage.
In this digital age, we share more and more everyday events on the internet, prompting a new generation of virtual pals to cheer us on. As long as this continues, viral trends will help us share our common humanity.