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5:34 a.m. - 2005-07-20
Written in a fit of misanthropy

(Editorial note: I began this entry upon getting home on the night in question- 7/13/05- but was too tired to complete it. The heat over the last week has kept me from doing much of anything, hence the delay.)

So apparently I was "tagged" a while ago by Greg who was tagged by Teetsie who also tagged Klugarsh and Luva who then tagged this fucker. Knowing some of these people as I do I felt it was best to soak it in disinfectant for a while before inserting it into my own tight and eager little diary. The game is I'm supposed to list 5 things that the general populace seems to like or enjoy that I just don’t get. I am then supposed to tag 5 other people to do the same.

And I could just make an enumerated list of the 5 most obvious, annoying things but it would just be the same things that everyone else has listed. Instead I'm going to relate to you what just happened to me while walking home from work, because you'll easily be able to find more than 5 things that -even though everyone agrees that they’re bad- people do all the fucking time. So often that they must be enjoying them in some way.

Walking home from work itself gets me lots of open-mouthed stares. It’s only three miles and frankly I need and enjoy the exercise. Californians have gotten so lazy and dependent on our cars that most of us have forgotten there was ever any other way. For the San Jose locals, the following takes place on and around the corner of Bascom and Fruitdale at about midnight. I was walking down the long dark section of sidewalk in front of Valley Med. hospital, about to cross the street to get to the side with a big McDonalds and a 7-11 (where I always cross because that is my path of least resistance) when I see two figures in the middle of the street in front of the bus stop. They’re just dark silhouettes back-lit by the red and yellow sign, one standing, hunch-shouldered looking down at the second one, who’s small and crumpled on the ground in a way that makes me feel a little queasy. As I get a little closer I can hear the first one yelling at the stricken one to get up right now or he’d leave him there. He starts to do just that as I reach them and try to ask what happened and if they need any help. The one on the ground is a small older asian man, who starts rolling around and half crying-half speaking in Vietnamese when I try asking him if he's okay. I know it was Vietnamese because the First One comes back and try as I might the only information I can get out of him is that the Second One is Vietnamese, and that the two of them fought in Vietnam during the same years.

Oh.

I wish that didn’t explain as much of his scene as it does, but if wishing worked than none of the three of us would be on this corner right now. Cars keep going past, keep going in and out of the McDonalds drive-thru not a foot from us. Some of them slowing down a little to stare at us but none of them stop to help. It’s only a matter of time before someone takes the corner too fast to see him and runs him over. No one with a back or neck injury could pitch himself around the asphalt like that, so I judge it safe to move him. I tell the first One "We need to get him out of the street before he gets hit by a car" and he agrees. We try to get the Second One to his feet but he is completely dead weight. He clearly doesn’t care to help himself in any way. He is small and thin and light looking but turns out to be surprisingly heavy. This close to them I can smell that they’ve been drunk for days. I try to get the First One -who has a sad but tough grizzled face and a wiry grey beard, to grab the Second Ones wrists while I grab his ankles so we can lift him onto the sidewalk at least, but he doesn’t understand me. He hold limply onto one of the man's wrists and starts regaling me over and over and over with the same remarkable but irrelevant information that they were both in Vietnam. I take turns lifting and dragging the man's wrists and then ankles and then wrists and then ankles myself, a few inches at a time so as not to hurt him. The First one stands there uselessly swearing at the Second One in Vietnamese, occasionally translating the curses for me. As I drag him his sleeves and pant legs come up, and he is covered with ovular scars of various sizes, most with that honeycombed texture I associate with skin grafts. He doesn’t respond to me touching and moving him, he continues to moan and cry, lost in whatever private hell this apparent mental break had exposed. Safely out of the street I let him go, and starting asking the First One again if he wanted me to call an ambulance. Told him I had a cell phone and asked if they had any friends he could call to come pick them up, but still no coherent information. I wasn’t sure if I should call 911; not wanting to get them arrested if they were simply drunk.

Finally a car pulled over a few doors down, and two women got out and peered fearfully at us over each other. I walked over to them and they were already calling 911 on their cell phone. They asked me what had happened and I told them I didn’t know, and as they continued to question me I realized they thought I was WITH the 2 crazy homeless vets. I was dressed nicely having just left work, but not as nicely as they in their tailored business suits. They cared enough to call 911 but not enough to actually go over and see if they could help. Knowing an ambulance was coming and the 2 ladies would wait, probably just for the show of it, I continued to walk home, finally, exhausted.

About a half a block later a bunch of white high school kids in football jerseys driving a minivan tried to throw a water balloon at me and got nothing but my outstretched and unimpressed middle finger for their efforts. I considered writing down the licensee plate number, but decided that any parent dumb enough to let a bunch of high school kids borrow the family minivan and drive around until after midnight probably also wouldn’t care that they were using it to throw shit at people. I was glad then that I’d been there to drag the guy out of the street because the princess with the cell phone sure wasn’t going to do it and the kids in the van probably would have thought it was "cool" too run him over and videotape it to show to their friends. Its bad enough living in the kind of town where you know shit like that could happen, but I really dont think I could continue to live in one where it did.

All that having been said, I hear Canadians are very polite. And it’s colder there. I wonder if it’s hard to get citizenship.

 

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