On Wednesday night, after a long day at work, I found myself staring over a hand of Uno cards at a runaway teen.
I had come to Angel’s Flight near downtown LA to spend the night playing games. I ended up in one of the most intense, war-like games of Uno ever. To be fair my opponents were tough and sophisticated. True survivors.
Angel’s Flight is a shelter for homeless and runaway kids between thee ages of 10-18. Many of the children are fleeing abusive families. The kids are given food, clothes, and shelter, appointed case workers and therapists to help them cope with what they’ve been through.
The Uno game went on for 2 hours, a time during which I forgot about my work. Which is priceless.
I don’t feel comfortable taking pictures of minors, especially teens forced to escape unimaginable circumstances. A can briefly tell you about them because they were exceptional and interesting:
A 16-year-old former vegan, wanna be guitarist, who was thrilled that I taught him how to “count cards” in Uno. He was very proud to be starting college level classes soon.
The 11-year-old who had arrived at the shelter the day before. He was tiny for his age and scrappy. His clothes were 3 sizes too big.
A girl in her final year of high school who couldn’t bother to play games because she had to finish her homework on the center’s tattered couch.
The 13-year-old who hid the fact that he started crying when, in the heat of Uno battle, another kid called him stupid (a crime that was reprimanded).
The only picture I took at this event are the Uno cards. I think you can understand.