Worst Fear



Homeless, John Doe 278, killed when an SUV plowed through a Canoga Park Donuts-Store, will be cremated and then buried in a Common Grave scheduled for Dec 2017.

A LA Police search found 623 possible matches for “Tuan Nguyen”. Decades of being homeless with no prior and no contact numbers, resulted in no “life”, in machine-speaks.

Great story by a Valley Daily News journalist, but sad ending to a human quest that spanned across the Pacific, from a busy street of former Saigon, to a quiet strip mall of Canoga Park ( whose only mention by Hollywood was in Grand Canyon, when Kevin Kline suggested that his new-found Black friend be relocated there to stay away from boyz in the hood).

I used to take my daughter to Lake Balboa near there for a bike ride. I remember the place, a lonely one without a family. During the Beat Generation, Valley Girls frequented outdoor movies and roller skating rings. Further North would be home to the porn industry.

Here was a man, obviously out of place and his element.

He moved about, and if he hadn’t been run over by the SUV , he wouldn’t have missed his Thanksgiving at Church of the Redeemer food bank. Or we can assume had Tuan, chang trai nuoc Viet – young man from Vietnam – not embarked on that Boat People journey with his parents – who used to work for the Department of Water and Power in Vietnam – he would still be riding his motorbike in the Cong Hoa roundabout near his former high school – Petrus Ky.

In Sliding Doors, Gwyneth Paltrow plays a woman who stepped into the metro just as it was closing. In another cut: she did not make the train.

Two completely different scenarios, two completely opposite outcomes.


It happens to the best of us.

For instance. Let’s take the US positive reception and reputation right after WWII (and for that matter, right after 9/11). What if the US did not care for world’s oil, and instead, explored and exploited its own energy sources all the while keeping manufacturing jobs at home. We wouldn’t have words like “off-shoring” and perhaps, the US would not have garnered much resentment and ill-will. When President Carter took office, he rode on the “crisis of confidence” theme only to be co-opted and outdone by his successor.

About all that time, our homeless man lived a quiet life in the back alley of Canoga Park and other parks. History could have taken a different turn had we not missed the Sliding Doors.

That counts for all of us, FOB from the Mayflower or FOB from Vietnam. A good harvest =  Thanksgiving Feast. Safe landing and sustainability.

But then, how unsafe was it, just to sit at “your” usual table of Jolly Donuts, charge your phone and get run over. His worst fear ( buried in a Killing Fields mass grave) had finally materialized in present-day US of A common grave. Nguyen died, a man without a country (his ID unconfirmed, hence citizenship questionable), a home and a grave to his own. Once a bright student, with no prior now, dead, without a legacy. This Thanksgiving, his absence in the Church of Redeemer food bank is barely registered. After all, John Doe is John Doe, dead or alive.


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