What does Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley choose to do when faced with opportunity to get involved?

A week ago tonight, Hannibal man Jordan Cross was recognized by the City Council for his actions during a mid-June house fire.

Driving on Church Street while out running errands, Cross spotted smoke coming from a house. Cross stopped his car and dialed 911 as he ran to the structure.

Cross and others helped the occupants in the residence – three children and a baby sitter – escape without serious injury.

Who knows what would have happened had Cross not seen the smoke. Maybe the outcome would have been the same, with everyone getting out OK. Maybe a tragedy would have resulted.

The bottom line is Cross chose to get involved, where others might have just driven on.

Not every situation is nearly as dramatic, as I learned last Thursday when I found myself facing my own “Should I get involved?” quandary.

With the Courier-Post’s sports guy Jason Farmer on vacation, I was assigned to fill his sneakers. It meant a week of split-shifts as I attempted to put the sports pages together, while still writing Page One stories. I won’t lie to you. It was a stressful week.

Thursday held its own special nail-biting drama as my computer locked up on me in the home stretch of getting the sports pages finished. Fortunately, the threat of being tossed into the Mississippi River convinced my Mac that it had better stop playing mind games with the wide-eyed balding guy.

While I was able to get both my pages out right at deadline, when I walked out of the building about 20 after 12 on Friday morning I was physically tired and emotionally wired. Not a great combination.

As I slid into the driver’s seat of my car, my eyes focused on what appeared to be the form of a person standing on a dumpster behind a building in the 100 block of North Main.

As people are prone to do when they see something they’re not expecting, I questioned what I was viewing in the faint light.

As I turned on the car’s ignition, its headlights came on. Sure enough, there was a person on the dumpster, who appeared to be trying to climb onto the roof of a one-story section of building. As I flipped my lights onto high beam, the rascal accomplished his goal and disappeared.

As I sat in my car, staring at the dumpster in disbelief I was faced with two options: (A) Ignore what I’d seen and just go home; (B) Call the police.

“It’s probably nothing, but how will you feel if you find out somebody’s business or apartment was burglarized?” I debated internally.

Reaching into the back seat, I pulled forward the camera bag in which I carry my cell phone and called HPD.

Considering how busy police were on the night of the Fourth, I anticipated a wait until an officer arrived. However, I’d hardly finished putting my cell phone up when two officers patrolling the downtown area pedaled up on bikes. Although they looked puzzled when I thanked them for their promptness, they readily parked their bikes and started investigating after hearing what I’d seen.

A short time later a young man, matching the description of the “squirrel” I saw climb onto the roof, came jogging down the alley. He claimed someone he’d been with earlier in the evening had already climbed onto the roof. He later let slip that he, too, had scaled Mt. Dumpster and had eventually slid down a nearby utility pole.

While curious to see if the officer who climbed onto the building would find someone else, I was ready to depart. After securing permission from the officer who had remained at ground level that I was not needed, I set a course for home, confident that my decision to “get involved” was the correct one.