Thursday night as I was driving away from campus, I turned a corner and saw a man laying in the street. There was a girl about my age standing nearby looking concerned and unsure. I pulled over immediately (it was a very busy well-lit street) and walked over.
Let’s set the scene..it looked like this but not deserted…there was much more road traffic.
Aside from wanting to get the man out of the street, I mostly didn’t want that girl to have to stand there trying to figure out how to help all alone. The man was homeless and had a splint on his leg and was near the gutter, and his duffel bag was next to him. His crutches were on the sidewalk. And, I’m not stupid or naive about stuff like this, I know to proceed with caution in situations like this. Especially since I am indeed a girl. BUT THE MAN IS IN THE STREET, A VERY BUSY STREET.
He said he didn’t want us to help him up. A security guard from USC who was stationed across the street walked over to assess the situation. At this point we’d been standing there for a good 3 full minutes. The homeless man was still muttering that he would be fine in just 30 seconds, he’d be able to get himself up. I said “I’m not sure that 30 seconds is going to help, can we just get you a few feet over, onto the sidewalk?” Anytime someone offered to help lift him he just waved them off.
So the security guard basically shrugged and walked back to his post across the street. At this point I’m like:
The girl also left me.
But..the guy is LAYING in the STREET! It was dark! Cars drive fast on that road! Given his location (which, in case you forgot, is IN THE STREET) he could easily be run over. It was dark. People in LA drive crazy. I was on my own and not sure if I was supposed to leave too, but that seemed wrong so I backed away and looked around. There was a guy crossing the street in a wife-beater who was looking at the guy as he crossed, and he looked big enough to just lift the dude up into the sidewalk and that would be the end of it. There was also a guy approaching on his bicycle. At the same time, a car zips around the corner, notices the man in the street, and pulls up right behind my car and gets out to help. I told them all that the guy just kept saying he’d be able to do it on his own. The wife-beater guy walked away without a word…
The man who got out of the car looked like a younger, thinner, more bizzare version of this guy, and was smoking:
He talked to the homeless guy like a normal person and asked about the splint, turns out the guy got it that afternoon at the hospital. He also gave me a look that said ‘you are a girl, don’t get too close to this guy, I’ll help handle this.’ So I nodded and stood by and tried to decide what I could do. He suggested calling campus police but I told him the security guard was there and walked away.
(P.S. This whole time there were cockroaches running in and out of the gutter in the curb).
The homeless guy finally started to push himself up (barely) and he let Colonel Sanders and bike guy lift him up. So I grabbed the duffel bag from out of the street and tried to avoid the cockroaches.
That’s the second time in a couple weeks that I’ve found a homeless man laying in the street who did NOT want help. The first time the guy was literally in the middle of the road just off of Santa Monica. It was late and tons of people were all over the place drinking, bc it was a weekend and we were in the heart of WeHo. This time it was the bouncer at the club on the corner who decided to let him lay there. That time I was with a male friend (I will not say who to protect his dignity) and we approached the man as well. But when the bouncer walked off, my friend and I felt that if a bouncer wasn’t helping, that seemed to be the end of it. And I regretted it immediately after walking away.
The bouncer seemed like an authority figure..and so did the security guard..but they both gave up.
I mean come on men, let’s step it up a notch.
Let’s all pretend that John Quiñones is behind every corner with a camera.
Like this police office in Utah who climbed underneath a bus to hold the hand of the woman who was trapped beneath it.