Ethical Dilemma on the Street

Posted on January 26, 2010 by


On a personal/professional note, in addition to editing Mestizo Revelations, I am now focusing my writing efforts on Social Policy in Los Angeles for the LA Examiner, and will probably do so for the next few months.

Anyhow, I have a dilemma for people to help figure out with me.

The dilemma is whether or not I should have done something, anything, and how I could have done something, anything.

Today, I was walking down Vermont in East Hollywood to the Cahuenga library just as it started raining.

People already had their umbrellas.  They knew this shit was coming.  I didn’t care, I never use umbrellas.

As I was walking behind this teenager on the sidewalk, suddenly a middle-aged dude pulled over and got out of his car.  I didn’t notice at first, but then he said to the teenager, “that’s my umbrella” and calmly made a motion with his hands asking for what seemed like his umbrella.

The teenager suddenly got real violent.  He shouted, “what the fuck” and with that sharp-looking end of the umbrella threatened to stab the middle-aged dude, scaring and threatening to chase the dude into a driveway.  He screamed, “it’s my fucking umbrella.”

I looked into the alley way and saw the middle-aged dude look back at me.  I kept walking.

The teenager walked off looking back at me, and me looking at him.

I walked off as far as possible, images in my head of The Wire, where I’d get shanked if I snitched.

Over a fucking umbrella.

I felt bad for the man who was visibly shook, but maybe he was a gangster trying to take something that he “thought” was his.

I thought the kid might’ve stolen that umbrella, judging by his reaction, but maybe he was just shook and didn’t really know how to react.

At any rate, if I had an absolutely bulletproof body, I felt like I would have had the confidence to mediate the situation a bit better.