Monday, February 1, 2010

G2: First person: Standing on a pavement in Los Angeles, NoamFariedlander felt something whizz past at high speed. Then she was hitby a bullet. All that saved her was her body fat..(Guardian FeaturesPages).


Ayds Diet Candy, originally uploaded by A.Currell.
Free Diet Profile 468x60

ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian

My back fat saved my life. For a woman who has spent most of her life dieting, this statement rankles. But my muffin top protected me when I was shot with a high-powered air rifle fired by an unknown sniper at 2.15pm in a residential neighbourhood in Los Angeles. Had I been the usual LA size-zero stereotype, I would probably have been killed. Or paralysed.

I had decided to move to Los Angeles seven weeks before. It was bleak and cold in England and I needed some sunshine so I left my job at a national newspaper, packed my life into storage and came out to LA to follow the American dream.

Initially, everything went well. After three days (I've got dual nationality), I started working as an assistant for a Hollywood director. My emails home were filled with tales of the mundane (fixing his pool heater and the dishwasher) and the exciting (meetings at film studios). And then I got shot in the back.

Thanks to the movies, most of us think we know Los Angeles. We know Crenshaw and South Central are the places to avoid and West Hollywood is the chi-chi part of town, home to the Grove - a cheaper Rodeo Drive.

I had left the Grove and wandered down to a coffee shop to buy a brew, before meandering towards the Palazzo - a block of flats filled with wealthy divorcees, wannabes and actors. This was my mistake. No one walks here. Everyone, but everyone, drives.

A friend had offered to let me stay in their empty apartment and had arranged for someone to pass on the keys. As I was waiting just outside the security gates, something flew past my ear. Someone's throwing rocks at me, I thought. I moved slightly closer to the security guards and sipped my tea.

It happened again, and then again. The third time I felt something hit me in the back and a stabbing pain. I put my hand to where it hurt and when I removed it, it was covered in blood. I had been shot.

I looked around. There was no one. Stunned, but not yet feeling any pain, I ran towards the security guards shouting: "I've been shot!" Their reaction - was I sure?

I lifted up my top (black, which spoiled the drama of a bloodstained shirt) and there was a bleeding hole in my flesh.

"Call the police," I screamed while they asked mundane questions, such as my age. I started swearing. In fact, I swore with the total freedom and abandonment of a woman who has just been shot in the back by a sniper. I swore at them to get the police to me right away. And I swore at them to get me a paramedic. And then I burst into tears.

Fortunately, a paramedic was making a visit nearby. He confirmed that I had been shot, but warned me about getting into an ambulance. It would cost me at least $200 (pounds 140) to order one. And if the paramedics touched me, I would be charged. At that moment I really missed the NHS.

I flagged down a car. It turned out to be the woman with my new house keys. I hadn't met her before, but begged her to drive me to hospital, apologising as I seeped blood into her passenger seat.

When I arrived they took my blood pressure. Normal. So I was sent to the holding bay. I realised I was going to be late to meet my boss so I emailed: "Not that I want to freak you out, but I've just been shot and I have to have the bullet removed. Will call when out of ER. I'm probably in shock right now." It wasn't my finest hour.

I walked around, trying to stem the bleeding before, finally, I was taken to the ER. By now the blood had slowed to a trickle - but I was in agony. As I held back my tears, I was approached by the hospital money person, who walked softly carrying a big clipboard. Before I knew it, she was demanding a credit card. I kept saying: "I have no money. Nothing." She was having none of it. I've since found out that I could have refused as it is their duty to treat me. Next time I get shot I'll know what to do.

The ER was chaos. Unlike TV's ER they only had one (albeit charming) doctor on duty so I lay there bleeding and worrying about money. I was finally examined and x-rayed. They spotted the bullet wedged in my back fat - in fact it had travelled three inches into my back fat and gone down to what I would like to term lower back but others have called my arse. Or as it's America, ass.

Six x-rays later, my costs were spiralling. My friend Tamara turned up to hold my hand and told me to stop panicking. It would be fine. We would find the money. Then she started taking pictures for Facebook.

But after the ER doctor failed to remove the bullet under local anaesthetic, I was told I needed an operation to remove it. Surgery costs thousands so I discharged myself, after being stitched up and went home to phone my insurance company.

It was 7am in Britain. The woman at the call centre, near Manchester, had just started her shift. "Hi. I'm in Los Angeles. I've just been shot. I need surgery. I've checked myself out of the ER. They've already taken $1,000 off my credit card. Can you cover my costs?" There was a pause as she processed the information - and put me on hold. At least nothing's changed back home, I thought.

A month on, the police are still investigating. They are calling it attempted murder, but I'm still waiting to hear. Apparently it's a busy precinct. So far there has been nothing from anyone. Jack Bauer can save the world in 24 hours, but a gunman fires at civilians and nothing is done.

So I have decided to launch my own investigation. I discovered that I'm the sixth person to be shot in the same location. The security guards won't leave the guardhouse and local people are too scared to walk along that stretch of pavement for fear of being used as target practice in an allegedly safe area.

Meanwhile, after a hard-fought battle between my travel insurance and the US health system, I found a surgeon and had a two-hour operation to remove the "foreign object". I'm now refusing to walk anywhere other than the beach but I'm not ready to come home. I've got a criminal investigation to see through and surely someone to sue? After all, this is America.

No doubt, my sniper will be a spoiled teen who wants to brag on the internet. So I'm scanning YouTube to see if I've become a featured item. Now I'm in LA I can't help, but think of my on-screen cachet. As yet I'm nowhere to be seen but it's surely only a matter of time.

I've lost my appetite, but I am forcing myself to eat. If LA has taught me anything, it's that a spare tyre is a life-saver. I'm never going to diet again.

Source Citation
"G2: First person: Standing on a pavement in Los Angeles, Noam Fariedlander felt something whizz past at high speed. Then she was hit by a bullet. All that saved her was her body fat.." Guardian [London, England] 30 Jan. 2009: 20. General Reference Center Gold. Web. 1 Feb. 2010. .

Gale Document Number:CJ192864092 USA, LLC*get the best of the bestPersonalized MY M&M'S® Candies(Web-Page) (Album / Profile)
leonard.wilson2008@hotmail.comShop the Official Coca-Cola Store!
ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian

No comments: