I volunteered at a courtesy meal provided by one of the churches in our city. It was my first time and I consider myself an observer only. The saints are those who show up every time.
My job was pre-scrubbing the plates, glasses and cutlery for the dish washing crew. Jell-O was part of the menu so it wasn’t long before my soapy water was pink. The odd floating pea was of no concern but part way through the evening I was curious as to what percentage my rinse water was saliva.
Before I was inundated with 150 plates, knives, cups and dessert plates I was watching the first to be served. Many seemed to have a system. This was not a first for many if any. Their plates were placed at their table to ensure a seat. The food was quickly abandoned as they headed for the tables containing loaves of bread. The more seasoned could be seen feeling the bags checking for the largest loaves. It is bad enough that there are those among us in need of a meal today but to pre-worry about what might fill your stomach tomorrow is insult to injury.
We ran out of purple grape juice and it was substituted with the more expensive clear grape juice. It was a hard sell. What appeared to be water was passed by or sniffed with suspicion. Most refused the risk of filling their stomachs with anything less than calories.
There were more than a few who handed in their plates with the only thing on their mind being another. “Are there seconds?” “Please Sir Can I Have Some More?” It’s only gluttony when it’s not your only meal. God Bless those with an appetite and Peace Be Upon the hungry.
One of the guests was an accomplished pianist. It was a welcome spirit and easily worth scrapping plates and scrubbing utensils. I knew my place was in dishwater and not at the piano.
To be honest I worked hard but to be more honest I do not have it hard. I know where I will sleep. I barely think about the three meals that come my way and I am seldom with a plan for tomorrow’s calories. My fridge is rarely near a state of empty. Hell, I have a fridge – have you ever considered the disparity between not having something to eat and owning a $700.00 box to house an array of food?
I saw several plates with a fair bit of food scraped into the garbage but who says just because you are poor you have to like peas? I was happy to know there were people not desperate enough to accept everything dished out to them. I hope I can always retain my dignity and taste.