On the way to the train station, I had a very interesting conversation with my Uber driver, Douglas. He was a man who looked like he’s lived a fruitful life. He asked where I was going. His eyes gleamed as soon as I mentioned I was traveling to Europe. I can see the wanderlust churning in his thoughts as he told me a little about his travel stories.
He enlisted during the Vietnam war because he got into a lot of trouble in high school. Not really having much of a choice or future in his hometown, he and a friend got thrown into the fray of the Vietnam war. When the war was over he came back to a divided nation reeling from the events of the war. Not feeling welcomed to a country he served, he and a friend fled to Europe. He spent 6 months there working odd jobs and said it was the best time of his life.
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He has several published photos of polar bears back in 1966 for the National Geographic when he had a job in the military spying on the Russians in the North Pole during the Cold WAR. He told stories about the brutality of Naval Officers who just shoot polar bears for sport and leave the carcass to rot because they could do so without repercussion. As an enlisted soldier, he couldn’t do or say anything about it and I can see from the tone of his voice he truly felt sorry and had remorse of being powerless to stop the brutality.
As I’m listening and intrigued by this man story I felt my seatbelt tightened around my chest due to a sudden and abrupt stop. I looked outside to see what was going on, Douglas had to slam on the brakes because there was an old woman lying in the middle of the street! The woman appeared incoherent. She didn’t know where she was. She screamed she wanted to die.
We told her she can’t be in the middle of the street. She laid there and kept saying she wanted to die! I told Douglas that we have to physically pick her up and get her off the street. I took her by the shoulders and Douglas carried her by the legs. She reeked of something and appeared very disheveled. We got her off safely to the sidewalk and I called 911.
Douglas said to tell them it’s for code 5150. So I told the 911 dispatch the place, the physical description of the woman, and the 5150 code. I was very relieved after getting confirmation that they’re sending someone there to take care of her soon. Douglas and I waited until help came. I just assumed code 5150 was code for suicide but Douglas would tell me that its code for an incoherent person or “crazy”.
He then added, with a chuckle, I know because I dated a lot of girls like her.
Code 5150 is a passage of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) (in particular, the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act or “LPS”) that authorizes a certified official or practitioner to involuntarily restrain a person believed to have a mental disorder that causes him or her a danger to him- or herself, a danger to others, and/or severely disabled.