South Pasadena, USA

I drove through South Pasadena, California this afternoon. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with tree lined streets and large, stately houses. If you’re looking to buy one, the median price is about a million dollars – more than five times the national rate.

At a quiet intersection, I waited for the car in front of me to make a left turn when I noticed the black Mercedes Benz SUV that was waiting behind me suddently pull around to my side. Just then the car ahead of me completed its left and I started to roll forward. The black SUV that had been behind me was in a right turn only lane but it kept going, effectively cutting me off. Must have been in a hurry.

At the indoor parking lot for the Whole Foods in Pasadena, I was pulling out in reverse when I noticed a woman in a light-colored SUV drive up behind me. I stopped and looked back to make eye contact with her, to see if she was going to wait. She avoided my eye contact but threw her hands up in frustration. I put the car in drive and got out of her way. She kept looking straight ahead and drove off hastily. She was waiting at the next red light when I pulled up behind her. Must have been in a hurry.

An hour or so later, I was making a turn on an especially leafy and quiet street when I noticed an elderly woman walking with great difficulty on the side of the road. She was in her mid 70s, at least. There was grass or hay stuck to the back of her legs and she was carrying a brightly colored parka like the kind Patagonia makes, rolled up in one hand. She looked like she was in trouble so I pulled over to get a better look.

A large white SUV made a slow turn around her and then pulled over across the street from me. I made eye contact with its driver to see if he’d noticed the woman as well. The driver looked to be in his 50’s, white, well dressed, accompanied by a woman of the same age and race. He nodded his head and said: “We thought the same thing but I think she’s homeless.” He made a funny face and then drove off.

“So what if she’s homeless?” I thought and turned my car around to ask the woman if she needed help.

She was hurt, alright, blood soaking through her light colored jeans. I asked her if she wanted a ride and she nodded up the street and said her house was just ahead. I offered again, saying that it was no trouble. She thanked me, admitting that she’d taken a fall, but insisted she could manage the rest of the way. I could tell it was a matter of pride for her that she get herself home, hobbling but still independent. She was in no hurry.

On the way home, I kept hearing the guy’s words, over and over again. They saw an elderly woman struggling to walk but concluded she could go fuck herself because she looked homeless. Or homeless enough. Or senile enough.

“No tienen madre”, they say in Mexico, of people who have no shame. Literally, they have no mother. They couldn’t even stop to ask her if she needed help. In a neighborhood of million dollar homes. No tienen madre.