Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ukrainian Gentleman in MacArthur Park

My preconceived notion of this man, as I tried to surreptitiously take his picture, was that he was an Old World equivalent of a grump. Unable to sneak a picture, I reluctantly tried the forthright approach, "Could I take your picture?" With this he instantly transformed into a courteous gentleman, still of the Old World, and not only willing to accommodate me but also extremely eager to talk. He spoke no English although when I showed him his picture, he quickly pulled out photos of his wife in a hospital bed and started to cry. Clasping her picture, putting both his hands over his heart and then showing me more pictures, I couldn't understand if she was dying or dead.

In the space of half a minute I went from "Hey, he'd make a cool picture for my blog" to under-trained and overwhelmed grief counselor to 'This guy is not unlike my own father; totally bottled up but with so much emotion just under the surface.' It didn't matter I didn't speak a word of Russian, he simply had to acknowledge his loss in the presence of another human being. Still out of my depth, I offered him the bottle of water I was saving for a homeless photo subject. He took the water with one hand and reached into his pocket to pay me with the other. I quickly made him understand that this was just my attempt to do something for him. He smiled and let me take another picture.


AArtVark said...

See - blogging instead of ePoker has already paid off through priceless human interaction. You're lucky you talked to this fellow and not one of the true-life trolls in the park tunnel!

-C.- said...

We're glad you're back...
It wasn't my intention, but yesterday's blog on 'Sarah Siddons' was for you. It's always good to hear of your journey.
I love the story this photo tells-

CoralPoetry said...


This is a very moving story. You are very kind.

Once, around Christmas time, I impulse bought two packs of biscuits that I did not really need. Rich Tea - they were cheap, 2 for the price of 1.

I happened upon two very hungry looking tramps sitting on a street bench. I automatically offered the biscuits to them. But they refused because of pride. They said they wanted the money to buy alcohol instead. I then threw the biscuits in the bin beside the bench, which they witnessed with awe. They probably took them from the bin when I left.



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