A manager at Glen Rock grocery store Kilroy's Wonder Mart tells a customer the orange she dropped on the floor is perfectly fine. But no, the customer, Traci pleads, it's fallen on the floor. It has germs, she says, and she just can't handle it. Traci suffers from mysophobia, a fear of germs. And her anxiety is mounting.
The manager, Jeremy, marches forward, exclaiming he doesn't understand the issue. They just mopped the floor this morning, he remarks. He pressures Traci to keep the fruit in her cart, pay up and check out.
"It's just an orange peel, OK? There aren't any germs inside it," Jeremy nonchalantly tells a nearby customer. "It's just in her head; it's not a real disease."
If you were near the register, what would you do? Would you take a stand, tell the cashier he's in the wrong and help Traci?
Glen Rock residents did, and they did so with aplomb. The hidden cameras of ABC 7's show "What Would You Do?" captured the compassion and conscientious spirit of the borough residents on the episode, which aired Friday night.
The first subject on line at Kilroy's was Sara Cowlan. Like all the other unwitting shoppers in the store, she defended the germaphobe with gusto and heart.
"It would bother her a lot," she explains to an impatient Jeremy, still intent on hoisting the "dirty" orange onto Traci. He continues to press his case but Cowlan takes him aside and calmly explains that he's not going to fix her neurosis overnight.
"Can you be human?" she finally asks in disbelief.
Then Howie Mandel, the television show host and comedian, unexpectedly emerges with a cadre of cameras. He and Cowlan hug.
Mandel actually has mysophobia and clearly can relate to the struggles of Traci, played by an actress.
"You are so sweet and so wonderful and not what I was expecting," he gushes to Cowlan. "To see somebody that is so compassionate and stands up for somebody and kind of acknowledges it's real was so heartwarming to me. You should be very proud and not embarrassed."
The same situation unfolds a minute later, this time with Mandel acting as the Kilroy's manager. Shopper Elaine Cunningham is having none of his act.
"I'll put it back for her," she says, ready to swap out the fallen items for a visibly distressed Traci. Mandel, in character, asks, "Why are you doing that?"
"Because I'm a nice person," she replies. "Like you are."
So why did Cunningham help a complete stranger?
"I could sense her need," she tells the show's host, John Quinones, surrounded by cameras and men with microphones. "If they need help, why wouldn't you do that?"
Sheldon Hirschberg, a trustee of the Glen Rock Board of Education, similarly wasn't up for playing games with the pushy manager.
"She's entitled to her own opinion," he shoots back to a wigged, disguised Mandel. "If she's not comfortable doing it, she should do what she wants to do."
Even when the actor playing the woman with OCD was swapped out for Mandel's actual son, 'Rockers responded in the same manner.
Three men tell Mandel what he's doing to the uneasy, anxious shopper (his son in real life) is "terrible."
"It's obviously a real issue for him," one of the men snaps. A woman then tells Mandel's son not to explain his fictitious disease to the manager, played by his father. If he's uncomfortable, that's enough reason to replace the groceries.
The character of Glen Rock residents certainly exceeded Mandel's expectations. He initially expected customers to ignore the actor's plight or simply laugh about it. How wrong he was.
"It was surprising," Quinones says toward the end of the clip. "At the end of the day, not a single person treated our actors with anything but compassion."
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