A beloved, longtime security guard is back on patrol in Vancouver’s Chinatown where he was attacked on the job this past summer.
But Harold Johnson’s valiant return to the streets is also bittersweet.
After three months nursing his injuries at home, Johnson went back to work last month and has since given his employer notice he will be leaving in mid-December.
“After all that he’s put up with since Aug. 12, I think it is time to get out of Chinatown,” Harold’s wife, Brandy LaRocque Johnson, told Global News in an interview.
The Johnsons’ sense of security was shaken when Harold was assaulted by a stranger as he made his regular morning rounds at the Chinese Cultural Centre near East Pender and Columbia Streets.
“He could’ve died,” recalled Brandy, a local shopkeeper who rushed to be with him after the incident.
“(If) that guy kicked him one more time — that would have been it.”
Harold, 64, is still reliving the trauma associated with the attack, which left him with a concussion and a broken nose and cheekbone.
“I’m still having the nightmares and headaches,” Harold said. “When I get a headache, it’s nasty.”
Brandy said she’s worried for her husband when he’s patrolling Chinatown alone, and so Harold decided to put his health and safety first and quit months ahead of his planned retirement next year.
“He wanted very much to fulfil one more year and he can’t do that now, it’s too dangerous,” Brandy said.
Harold has bonded and built a rapport with business owners during his two decades as the “eyes” of Chinatown, and merchants say he will be sorely missed.
“Harold’s been around forever. He knows everyone around here and everyone knows him,” pharmacist and Corning Drugs Chinatown owner David Wong told Global News.
“He’s always there for us, backing us up.”
“He comes in and makes me smile every day,” added Tracy To with Forum Home Appliances.
“Everybody in Chinatown’s family, we all work together,” Harold told Global News.
“He’s put a lot a lot a lot of heart in it,” added Brandy.
Harold said he wants to continue working and plans to find a less risky job to keep him busy until retirement.
“I got to look at the bright side of this, it’s a wake-up call.”
Meantime, Brandy wants to thank the three people she said helped save her husband’s life on Aug. 12, and the Chinatown merchants who raised almost $30,000 in two separate fundraisers to help him recover.
“I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart, the deepest part of my heart.”