i volunteered in the dining room earlier this week; it had been a while since i was there last. getting to sf from danville in a timely manner is a little more challenging - especially with my sleep patterns of late. despite that, i am always glad to be there. it was good to see familiar faces. given the nature of the tenderloin, i'm not really sure if a person i meet will be there again next week. the people that come in for lunch, are somehow the toughest and the most fragile people i have ever seen. i wish i knew more of their names, it gets pretty hectic in the dining room, so i don't get to chit chat much.
one dude there would be the spitting image of rapper/crazy man flavor flav; he just needs the viking helmet and oversized clock on a chain around his neck. i'm not kidding - it's pretty awesome. there's another woman that comes in, and i've never seen her face. she pulls her little cart behind her with one hand, and with the other holds a flattened cardboard box over her face. she sits in the corner and props the box upright to form a little barrier around her while she eats. it makes me wonder how she got to be that way, if she ever wants to talk to anyone. even in the short time i have been volunteering, i can see a growing variety of people coming in for lunch, as the recession continues to hit the poor the hardest. where's their damn bailout?
as i stood in line with other volunteers - incidentally, more unemployed people are volunteering since they have the time on their hands - the people ahead of me made idle chitchat. "oh, i just got laid off recently," a women explained, "i figure while i'm looking for a job, i should do something useful and it makes me feel good." feel good? really? i'm still thinking about that remark. i like being in the dining room, but i don't think i would ever say that it "felt good." quite the opposite i think. i feel angry, sad, inadequate, and i do find some joy in being there in connecting briefly with people who largely go unnoticed. but feel good? nope.