Monday, November 5, 2012
Brother can you spare a dime for your thoughts?
I think I have this thing that can sense idleness in my thoughts and then one of those pitiful moments pops up, like "hey, remember me? Whatever you do don't do that again..."
So, why am I telling you this? Because I saw it happen to someone else today. For once it wasn't me!
I volunteered at a homeless banquet to help hand out food to the annual Thanksgiving feast that my church throws. Spending the extra hour from daylight savings on a run today, I showed up a little after the groups were divided and I was lumped into the team that serves the food. I was partnered with someone who would carry the tray as I handed out the plates. I haven't volunteered for something like this since girl scouts when we volunteered at an elderly home -- there a senile old lady showed me her boobs.
Anyway, our pastor asked that we be kind to these people that were coming in as they were mostly lonely and enjoyed talking to people. So, being friendly (hoping to avoid any indecent exposure) I was handing out meals to my section, a man calls me over reads my nametag and says, "Danielle, how are you?" I reply ask him how he's doing and then he asks me "what do you do?" I answer him and come up short of what to say next so I ramble off I need to deliver more plates and he can let me know if he needs anything else.
Later I hear him ask the same question to someone else "what do you do?" And the girl replies with her occupation and then asks him what he does for a living...Now, before I tell you his response, I'm thinking "why did she ask that, isn't that rude?"
Sure enough, he says "girl, if I made a living would I be here getting food from you?"
There it was - what I was afraid of - she gave an instinctual response for a conversation starter, but it backfired and now she had egg on her face.
So, if she's anything like me I know she'll replay this in her head and think, "Why did I say that?" Or she'll think, "why did he ask me that!??!"
Because I wondered the same thing, not only that, but it made me feel shameful, which is the LAST thing I wanted to get out of doing this. As a volunteer I didn't feel a need to divulge whom I was outside of that space, I was here to help that was my job for the day. My real job was a divider in the room, which I wanted to leave at the door so I could help these people get a meal today, a simple task we all need, but unfortunately not widely available. So when this man introduced work into the space and ultimately economic stature it made me feel awkwardly different than him. Maybe I'm naive to think this, but for a short while when I was handing out meals in that space we were all one community. I guess that was the point of this experience, huh?
But then as I was leaving I started to think again what if the goal of that question wasn't to make anyone feel any type of way, but to remind us that we have certain blessings that we check at the door when we enter into these spaces to help create an equalizer, but it's those same blessings that allow us to create hope for the people in the room. Just something to keep in mind, when you're in your next situation and asked "brother can you spare a dime."