A Post About “Nothing”

A Post About “Nothing”


I have a lot to say about AWP: about how beautiful and colorful Los Angeles was, about how nice it was to catch up with old friends, and how much I got out of the conference.  But something happened as I was heading to LAX (and back to my comfortable academic job in Pittsburgh) that I can’t stop thinking about.  So I figured I’d share it first.

10:38AM in Los Angeles: [I dial 911 and explain the situation to the dispatcher, who then transfers me to the paramedics.]

Paramedic dispatcher: What’s your emergency and location?

Me: I’m at Ninth and Figueroa.  There’s a man lying facedown on the sidewalk.  [The man appeared to be in his late 30s.  He was dark-skinned, maybe of Southeastern Asian descent.  He had shoulder-length black curly hair and was wearing clean cargo pants, a clean t-shirt, and a pair of clean sneakers. Inexplicably, and maybe congruous to his situation, a pair of new-looking brown New Balance sneakers were scattered on the sidewalk  a few feet from his head.]

Dispatcher: Is he in front of a specific building? Any specific landmarks?

Me: I’m at Ninth and Figueroa.  He’s the guy lying facedown on the sidewalk.

Dispatcher: There are lots of people facedown on the sidewalk there.

Me: Um…not today.

Dispatcher: Did you talk to him?

Me: I asked if he was okay. He looked up at me and mumbled something.  I didn’t really understand him.  [Notably, he was lying on the sidewalk’s main thoroughfare, not the edges and corners where the city’s homeless sleep. We all had to step around him.]

Dispatcher: Is there any blood? Any visible sign of trauma or injury?

Me: I didn’t see any.  He didn’t look very well.  He seemed disoriented and out of it.  When I was talking to him, he didn’t seem to register it.

Dispatcher: Well, what do exactly you want us to do here?

Me: I don’t know.  The man’s clearly not okay.  He’s lying facedown on the sidewalk and unresponsive.

Dispatcher: You said he talked to you.

Me: He just mumbled something.  He didn’t seem very interested in talking to me.

Dispatcher: What exactly do you want us to do here?

Me: I don’t know.  I guess I just figured I’d let you know.  If you don’t want to help, I don’t know what to tell you.

Dispatcher: Thank you for your call.

[The end.]