Thursday, January 31, 2008


"If you don't mind my asking, how did you lose your leg?"
"Car Crash. Gangrene."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

No Photos Today

This time last night I was in Chinatown. If you're outside of L.A. you might not know that unlike San Francisco and New York, LA's Chinatown is pretty much a dead zone in the evening. I turned up a especially dark street that feeds into Alameda and came across a man lying face down in the middle of the street.

Right or wrong, I briefly considered taking a couple of photos ('cause that's what I do) but if this guy was just drunk and not dead it was only a matter of time until a car comes up over him.

As I asked him "You need help?" I was instantly making eye contact with a fully conscious man nodding his head vigorously. I hauled him up and half-dragged him to the sidewalk. He was a very old Asian man bleeding from either the mouth or nose. He didn't want help, he didn't even want me to make a phone call. Without saying too much more he shuffled off. I followed him for another two or three blocks and then saw him wobble and fall again.

This time he was relatively unhurt but we were still in a dark part of town. Phillippes Restaurant was just a block or two away; that became my goal. Some of my questions he wouldn't answer but he did say his name was Mr. Wong and he needed to take the bus to Alhambra and even told me the name of the assisted living center that he stayed at. A police car drove past and I waved for them to come over but they kept on going. At this point he is just doggedly shuffling down the street which I took to mean "I'll be all right if I can just get to the bus that will take me home."

I'm not sure what to do. Mr. Wong is clear that he doesn't want any medical attention which at this point would mean endless hours at County General - on a Friday night no less. So I just keep on walking with him to the bus stop, hoping the worst had past.

We get to the bus stop. It's surprisingly crowded but the benches are empty. He goes to sit on the bench but again topples over, this time hard and fast. Every available cell phone comes out and, thankfully, a VA nurse steps up as Mr. Wong is bleeding badly from the mouth.

Eventually an ambulance showed and they took Mr. Wong away. Today I called the assisted living center in Alhambra and he indeed was a resident there and they had been contacted by County General where he is still being held.

At this point I'm thinking I should have called 911 when I first found him. On the other hand, if he had walked off while I waited for the ambulance he would have been completely out of eyesight at the point of his second fall.