Monday, March 02, 2009

pushing the envelope

well, i'm not good at taking it easy until i'm fully recovered. a bad night of sleep and a day on my feet volunteering have sapped my energy. oops. darn it. but i missed working in the dining room, and when my alarm went off this morning, i got up. (actually now living with a friend and also across from a high school, i am reminded, "oh yeah... people do... stuff." and it gets me a little antsy)

so i chugged an odwalla smoothie (dude- way too much sugar in some of those) and hopped on bart. it's the second of the month - right after welfare checks came out but we still served 2500 meals. usually at this time, we do a lot less, like 1800 or 2000 - that's servings of food btw, people are able to come back for more than one tray of food, so it's not 2500 different people. i don't know if it's because of the rough times, or the fact that we were serving up baked chicken and black-eyed peas today. probably both.

i find myself getting angry a lot in the dining room - not at people eating there. i get particularly mad when i see people in wheelchairs, and the elderly in there. it makes me mad that they are forced to fend for themselves, that there aren't people to take care of them, that they squirrel away one of their trays of food in plastic bags to take home, probably for dinner later. i get mad that sometimes me saying hi to them when i put the tray down in front of them might be the only time someone greets them the whole day. i get mad when i see people dozing off into their food because they are so tired/groggy/drugged/whatever and the dining room is the only place they get to sit long enough or feel safe enough to fall asleep.

today i said hi to a woman i'd chatted with a few times there. she usually asked me the same questions - had i ever smoked, cigarettes or weed or crack or whatever and in an oddly cheerful way that always caught me off guard, as if she was asking me if i had tried the new pepsi one or something. she's been trying to quit using and had been polling other people for ways they had quit. instead today she told me that her husband died 11 days ago. i bent down next to the table and talked to her for a bit. i vaguely remembered the man who always sat with her; she usually did most of the talking and kept my attention. "i'm kind of depressed," she said. "i could use a hug." and that's what i did. then i got her an extra tray of food and told her she had to make sure to eat even if she didn't feel like it, because that's what happens when you are depressed. she said i was a good one. i hope i see her next week. i wonder what else i could have done. i looked up her name online later because it is hebrew and she told me what it meant the first time i met her, but i couldn't remember what it was. it means "daughter of god."

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