My Night At the Friendly Kitchen-Homelessness 101

This afternoon after shopping for supplies for the homeless, I got dressed and put on my new Mizuno sneakers to break them in for tomorrow’s big test on the treadmill.  I was so nervous, and as it turned out I had reason to be, not bad but just a lot to take in one evening. 

Irene, the director is such a sweetie. I got there and she was the only person I honestly knew.  She introduced me to a couple of the team members who seemed very nice but much older.  I went to work rolling silverware up in napkins for dinner that would be served from 5 to 6 pm.  I got really involved to what I was doing, not a lot of brain power, so I decided to remember just as much as I could.

Around 4:30 I finished up the silverware, and prayed there was another task for me to get involved with. By this point the entire team was there so I was given a big welcome.  All the team members seemed nice but we are not even close to the same generation.  Not a younger person in the place, and I was the baby by a long shot at thirty nine.  We got our dinner assignments, mine was replenishing drinks, a good way I guess to meet the community if I get to them in time!  I started getting nervous and wanted to see Eugene.  I thought about ringing him on his phone really quick.

Before I knew it the people started coming in and going right to what seemed to be specific tables. I watched them come in, the few families with children just broke my heart….I wondered if any of the children went to school with my daughter?  I tried to look busy and thankfully this woman named Peggy walked up to me, and said I looked like a deer in the headlights! Not quite sure what she meant, there would be a lot of moments like that tonight. I ask about how long she had been with the kitchen, and she said close to 8 years.  Oh I finally spotted Eugene, he saw me at the same time, and started headed right over to me.  I was so grateful to see him! I wanted to hug him, but we are not that way, and no matter how much I felt out of place hugging Eugene was not an option for sure!

I let Eugene go get in line for his dinner, and I grabbed a pitcher of lemonade and one of unsweetened tea.  I started where the folks first got their food. Most people were all set with the drinks. I met a lot of different personalities but one thing I noticed from the top of the show; they all are one big loose-knit family of sorts. I wanted to talk and be more gracious, but I felt so privileged to actually be there amongst them.  Some I recognized from the center of town, most of the others I had never seen before.  I thought to remember at least one person, whose name I would learn. I wanted to come back and write more tomorrow about at least one or two of Eugene’s extended family. I also knew I could call Eugene up and ask him anything I wanted to know.  I certainly want to respect this “family” and hopefully one day not too off, I will fill comfortable, and stop ruminating on all the things and money I had that they didn’t have….it made me feel real bad, and I got to get over this, I know there isn’t anybody who wants to see anybody else in their shoes.  The clients were definitely gracious, and as the evening flew buy, and more drinks were needed, I started to find a groove for myself.  I liked hearing my name, “Corey” called out by so many people I did not yet know.

The evening was over really fast I thought, and I figured since it was so early I would help with clean up.  However there is a whole group of people assigned to just clean up. Wow like that I was done, I brought all my pitchers back into the kitchen and tried to speak for a moment with Irene.  “Corey, sweetheart you did great, how did you like it?” I gushed, “I loved it I hope I am invited back next Tuesday night.” “Are you hungry Corey, there is plenty of food for you to take some home with you.” “Oh thank you Irene, my friend is picking me up, so I will get some dinner another time. Nice to meet all of you.  See you next Tuesday, good night, Irene.”

I got outside and just started to smile a smile that made every ill go away.  There was Eugene, speaking to my girl Stephanie in the car, who had come to pick me up. I know Eugene is sweet on Stephanie, I don’t care he is almost 60 years old.  Stephanie is my girl, we can get him his own, but Stephanie is so kind and gracious I love her that much more.  “Well good night my friend,” I said to Eugene.  He smiled at me, and said, “You acted like a pro.” We laughed as I got in Stephanie’s car to head home, and we both waved good-night to Eugene.

-Corey

BORN THIS WAY-2016

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