20. Disappointed, not surprised… (2004)

Fuckin’ California(ns).

I was stepping out to cross the street in a very upscale shopping area by my house when an extremely old woman tripped on the curb and fell flat on her face right beside me. I mean flat; No hands out, no head turn.

I dropped the bag I was holding, hustled over to her, and carefully picked her up. She couldn’t have weighed 75-80 pounds; I have a medicine ball that weighs nearly as much as she did.

She was bleeding from her forehead, nose and mouth, and not doing much else. The area was moderately crowded- I assumed that someone would notice a young person holding a motionless, bleeding old person and immediately offer to help. In the meantime I just stood there and held on to her; I have never held an infant, but I imagine that is what it would feel like. She was light, not just in weight, but in composition. She felt completely fragile, like just-frozen ice. Eventually, people started coming over and several actually asked me what to do. If they had grown up in the same society I had, the obvious path was to call 911 (which a man was finally courteous enough to get off his other call to do). Fucking morons.

Moments later this douche in a jean jacket with the collar up and some haircut came over and told me “Uh, I took some nursing classes in college, and you should definitely be tipping her head back to stop the bleeding”. I promptly took out my 3rd hand and tipped her head back while still attempting to stabilize her quasi-lifeless body. Jean jacket then says “You know, you should sit her down so she doesn’t fall over”. We’re on a street corner, not in an auditorium. I don’t know where I’d sit down right here, and I’m not 100-years-old and bleeding from my head.

“Just sit her down on the ground”.

“Uh, don’t lean her on that car, her foot is going to slip off the curb”.

“Take her into the bank.”

FUCK. Does anyone else have a suggestion? It’s not like I’m some expert in handling injured senior citizens. I was trying to hold her as still as possible because the way my brain works I assumed that her neck was probably broken and that she was going to die in my arms. She was also still bleeding, and at this point hadn’t made a sound or opened her eyes in over five minutes.

What seemed like an hour later a woman who works for the Fire Department came over and renewed a modicum of my faith in humanity. She told me she had seen exactly what happened and had called an ambulance.

She asked me if the woman had lost consciousness, which I was unsure of; Thankfully jean jacket was still there to contribute: “No, she never lost consciousness… I’ve done some nursing training, and I can tell you, consciousness was never lost! This man just stood there with her though, so who knows how much blood she’s lost. Her head was not tipped back at all.”

The Fire Department lady looked exasperated yet familiar with his type, and asked me to help her put the old woman in a chair some twit from the Gap had brought out. When I looked in the Gap window, there were no less than eight people standing there gawking like they were watching television. God only knows how long they had been standing there, and whether they just stood and stared while I waited for assistance.

Jean jacket started talking loudly about the blood loss to impress the newly gathering crowd, and then thankfully the ambulance showed up. They were asking me and the Fire Department lady about the situation, and jean jacket literally jumped in front and started telling them how he had medical training and he had been monitoring the situation and how I had just been standing there with her and carrying on about how “…amazing it is that some people don’t know even the basics of first aid.”

When they finally took her from me I hustled off and watched from across the street. The ambulance guys finally asked jean jacket to leave, gave the woman oxygen, and then took her away.

Where else but Southern California can you start out helping someone in a bad situation and end up getting condescended by a nursing school dropout Huey Lewis impersonator, while serving as a 15-minute reality show for some nitwit Gap employees?

It could happen elsewhere, I suppose… but it’s way more likely in fuckin’ Southern California.

The end.