Friday, June 12, 2015


Near the 75 north bus stop, #7449, on Cesar Chavez near Gladstone, there is a 24/7 Plaid Pantry and next to it, a 24/7 Compassionate Caregivers -- a marijuana dispensary. As I crossed Chavez towards stop 7449, my stop, around 7:30 pm on a Wednesday in May, it was still very light outside. A guy was yelling in anger. He was at stop 7449  gesticulating like a children's storyteller to someone seated in the bus shelter.

I slowed down, approaching with caution. The guy was in his 20s, athletic, head shaved, black T-shirt, brown shorts (I was thinking of how to describe him to the police if I had to). His feet were bare.

The object of his tirade, I saw, was a young woman.

"Come on, come on. Let's go," he bellowed.

She said, "Give me my purse."

She was crying.

I was pretty close to them now. They paid me no mind.

He said, "You're embarrassing me, standing here with my butt in the street trying to get you to move."


"Give me my purse."

He did, indeed, have his hand on the strap of her purse, a red leatherish bag. She held the other strap.

She stood up and turned to look at me.

Tears streaming, she said, " He's trying to rob me."

"How am I robbing you? I'm getting my Social Security card out of your purse, which you put there. I suppose it's my fault you're homeless now, too?"

"Please call 911," she said. "This is a robbery."

Her makeup was running, her face was melting, and I was putting the phone to my ear.

The man released the purse. The woman walked past me, looked back and the man was at her heels, yapping on. She said something to him that I couldn't hear. He muttered back to her.

They went around the corner.

During the next 30 seconds, I waited to connect to the 911 operator. Meanwhile, my bus shlepped by.  I sauntered to the corner to keep tabs on the couple. They had vanished.

The operator asked me what happened, what the couple looked like, whether  any weapons were in play, and where they were now. I felt superfluous. The woman had retrieved her purse from the scary boyfriend and was already behind an unidentifiable apartment door with him.

As the call ended, a police cruiser rolled slowly by, past where Romeo and Juliet were last seen alive. The car drove on, a block, two, three blocks before turning left.

I was really hoping I would see the cops roust the angry guy but, no. Just another 911 call without a resolution. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


I boarded the good old 75 bus southbound. Going from home to the Hollywood Library. I sat on the front left bench. Across from me two very large women were chatting. One, in a wheelchair, was wheezing for breath despite inhaling oxygen through a nasal tube.

Her friend sat directly across from me. The two were nodding and quietly cracking each other up. Though I tried, I couldn't hear the words.

A skinny woman boarded and traded nods of recognition with the other two. She held a worn Bible in one hand and tread carefully, as if on a small boat. She sat down a couple rows back from me. At the first stop, she tread very deliberately to the front as if leaving. But instead, the woman grabbed a handful of paper towels from a dispenser next to the driver. On the way back to her seat, a towel flapped to the floor.

The wheelchair lady looked at me, looked at the paper towel, and then gestured. She wanted me to pick up the towel and give it back to the skinny lady.

I picked it up, and as the skinny woman turned around to sit, held out the paper towel for her to take.

"I don't want that paper towel that's been on the floor."

"Okay." I withdrew the towel.

"Would you use a paper towel that's been on the floor?"

I shrugged and tried to smile, thinking I might use one, depending on what kind of mess needed cleaning up.

"No you wouldn't."

Oooh. Were those fangs?

"l just got out of the hospital and I'm not going to use a dirty paper towel."

OH. Oh. Aha. All right, I got it. I glanced over at the wheelchair woman, who had encouraged my kindness. She smiled. Her friend smiled. I smiled back as best I could, feeling uncomfortably warm.