Note: This event came at the eclipse of 2008, if I’m not mistaken. Being a few months short of a year from this date in time, and without giving anything away, I hope the leak was dammed up once again and is not still running like a civ.
Los Angeles is considered one of the most stressful cities in the United States. Between traffic, hippies, and the cost of living, it is easy to see why. But it goes further than that. Even simple daily errands cannot be completed without a song and dance number.
Like paying my phone bill. Having some time to spare on my way to work, I stopped into my cell phone provider’s store in Koreatown (or K-Town, as the natives know it as). The simple task of leaving my car, strapping on a bullet-proof vest, doing the “roadie run” to the nearest cover, and walking into the Verizon store was complicated in a way only Los Angeles can make it.
Within moments of stepping out of the Cougar, a man either missing or ignoring my Iowa license plates waddled up to me and said, “Excuse me, neighbor. My name is…”
The man gave me his name at precisely the exact same time I started thinking about eggplants, so it escapes me.
“…And I have a favor to ask of you. You see I am a man that has been affected by AIDS. But don’t worry, you can’t get it from just standing here with me.”
With that information, it made me wonder how this man did get AIDS. My guess was unprotected gay sex while doing heroin intravenously and sinning against a Republican in the Eighties. The man proceeded to lift his right shirtsleeve to show me how AIDS has ravaged any muscle he might have had at one time. Then he continued.
“…Please good neighbor. I am a man that believes in keeping his word. My family is not home and I have started to bleed anally.”
At which time the man turned around to show me the ever-accumulating anal blood stain on the seat of his light blue jeans. At which time, I forced myself from laughing. Unfortunately, I could not stop myself from cracking a smile.
“…I am in need of an anal suppository immediately if I want to stop the bleeding. I have a prescription here in my hands…”
Now the anal suppository prescription was in my hands. I read it over. His blood plug was to be picked up at Rite-Aid. It came at a cost of thirty-seven dollars and some odd cents. Boy, anal suppositories have sure gotten expensive. And how am I not laughing uncontrollably right now? I’ve been handed a prescription for someone’s anal suppository.
“…I am short seventeen dollars, kind neighbor. I am a good man with a good family. If you can please give me a ride and the money to make up the difference, I will return you your money and give you extra for gas. Oh, don’t worry about the bleeding. I have a towel I could put down in the seat of your car.”
The immediacy of the issue forced me to think quickly. My thought process was along the lines of, “Okay, a man with AIDS has just run up to me asking me for money and a ride to the suppository store (giggle) to stop his anal bleeding, and he plans to put a towel down in the passenger seat of the Cougar to keep the AIDS blood from reaching my seat. I can’t wait to blog about this.”
My response was, “I’m sorry sir, but I can’t do it.”
His eyes widened and his mouth fell agape.
“I can give you a little bit of money to help pay for the suppository, but I don’t have seventeen dollars on me to cover the difference. But I’ll give you what little I can.”
This is true. I really did not have seventeen dollars to give. But I forked over a couple of dollars, said he did not have to worry about paying me back, and tried to get away, feeling slightly guilty, but at the same time, not wanting a complete stranger who was bleeding out of his ass in the passenger seat of the Cougar.
“Please sir. I have very good karma and will pay you back for your kindness just as soon as my family returns.”
His karma must not have been that good, as he was bleeding anally due to his immune system being destroyed by the AIDS bug, and I was turning him down for a ride to the drug store, where upon arrival, would have to purchase and use a suppository. I didn’t tell him this part. It sounded like he had enough problems going for him right now. For me to bring up that I thought his karma was not as good as he perceived it to be would just be adding insult to injury.
“I’m sorry sir. But I just can’t. I really have to go, but I wish you the best of luck and pray things work out for you,” I said.
I left the man whose name I never learned to his own devices in trying to find a gooder Samaritan than myself. With my two U.S. dollars in his possession, he would have enough for a bus fare, and I’m assuming if he showed up at a Rite-Aid in the same state he was in for me moments ago, they’d have no problem waiving the prescription cost and fix him up. If anything, by the time he arrived, they’d show more sympathy for him because his jeans would look like the elevator doors had opened up in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”
After paying my phone bill, I saw the man across the street still looking for a ride. A sting of guilt hit my conscience. It was probably the severity of the situation sinking in. This man clearly had a serious malady and I was treating it like just another day in La La Land. On the other hand, this is just another day in La La Land. It’s this kind of thing that happens all the time here. Complete strangers come up to you and ask for help ranging from going into a store and buying them CO2 cartridges to watching their pet llama while they take a piss on a head of lettuce being held by a grade school aged boy in gym clothes.
But the man with AIDS and the line at the cell phone store had chewed up what spare time I had to reconsider my decision. I still had a job to get to, and there are 9 million other people in Los Angeles that can probably aid the man with AIDS. This is me paying it forward.