continued "It seemed like a long time. One guy was holding the white woman. I don't know where the black woman went. At one point, I saw the knife on the sidewalk, this kind of purple and red thing, and for some reason I picked it up. I remember what seemed like a lot of paramedics and police. A whole lot of them. I imagine what they saw was this old white guy covered with blood holding a knife.
"In the ambulance they had to cut away my clothes. The police took them and my shoes for evidence. And my I.D."
At around 7:30 p.m., surgery was performed on Ross at Scripps Mercy Hospital. The operation took approximately two hours. Ross has little or no recollection of arriving at the hospital or subsequent events until some hours after the surgery, in the hours between Friday night and Saturday morning. "I remember a woman, a Filipino woman, I believe, though I don't know for sure, coming into my room, taking my temperature, my blood pressure, and at one point, very abrasive and high-toned. She said, 'You go home.' I didn't understand what she meant. I hadn't even seen a doctor, as far as I knew, and I thought she might have said, 'You're at home,' or something, and me saying, 'Well, feel at home? Huh? That's good, thank you.'
" 'No. No. You go home.' Twice she came back and asked, 'When you go home?' In some slurry way, I'm sure, I said, 'I don't have any clothes.' She said, 'We give you token.' I said, 'A token for what?' Now I'm getting a little more conscious. A little while before, I had to go to the bathroom so badly that I did it myself. I didn't know where it was, but I found it, and inside I fell down, picked myself up, peed all over the floor and myself, and somehow made it back to the bed. A third time she came in and said, 'Go home.' Again, I told her I had no clothes, only a hat. They had taken my clothes, all bloody, for evidence.
" 'We try to find you a pair of pants.' Very abruptly, very put out.
" 'A pair of pants?'
"She kept saying, 'Go. You go.'
" 'Where? I just went to the bathroom and fell down. I can't walk.'
"No one had even asked me how I felt. She looked very agitated. Another lady came in and said something about this token. Then this other guy came in. He said he was from the business office. He said, 'Is it correct, you are 47 years old?'
"I remember saying, 'Yeah, I wish.' " Ross is 72 years old.
" 'Oh, I see. It says here you were born in '47.'
" 'No, I wasn't.'
" 'Yes, you were. It says so here. Do you have a phone?' I thought he meant cell phone, so I said, 'No.' I've never had one. 'But I have a phone in my apartment.' And that turned it around. 'Apartment?' He looked up. He hadn't been paying much attention until then. 'Aren't you homeless?'
" 'I work with the homeless downtown. I'm not homeless. I have a home and hospitalization. Is that what this token thing is about? You've got everything wrong there.' I got very pissed and called my doctor, Suzanne Afflalo at Kaiser, where she is also an administrator. She negotiated for me to stay at the hospital for another day, but by this point I wanted no part of it anymore."
Ross later told me, "I thought about how I would have made out had I really been homeless. I would have been out there on University Avenue with only a pair of pants that may or may not have fit, a token, and some paper prescriptions I had no means of filling -- or if I had, would have been stolen. That is exactly the condition, or close enough, that the man was in that I found on the street New Year's Eve two years ago, when I decided to make this my life, working with the homeless."