Sunday, November 25, 2007

meals on foot

the road to empty doorways is paved with good intentions.

we set out for meals on wheels thursday morning running behind, as usual. fortunately, the suggested arrival time allowed plenty of room for tardiness. there was a welcome/instructional spiel, and then we had to wait for the meals to arrive anyway.

i was a little nervous about what kind of route we would have and if pooka would be enough help to scout out house numbers for me. turns out we got one of the easiest routes. an apartment building, with all stops in one wing of the 8th floor. easy, peasy, right?

first off, i turned the wrong way out of the center (nevermind that they provided us with turn-by-turn directions. anyone who knows me knows i constantly confuse east and west.) by the time i realized my mistake and turned around, it was time for me to pump. so i pulled into a parking lot and took care of business, keeping my head on a swivel and my eyes peeled for any suspicious people approaching. (did i mention we were downtown in the current most dangerous city in the country?)

milk expressed, we continued on our way to a destination less than a mile from the center. d'oh!

i decided to carry the whole box up to the top instead of trekking back to the truck. we ended up just dragging the box along the corridor from stop to stop. on the way up, a community watch-type person in the lobby checked our list and sent us on our way.

pooka's behavior ranged between neutrally cooperative and downright crabby. i think it was partly nerves and partly steroids (i had forgotten that she would be on them this week.) i completely suprised myself with my relative confidence in tackling this mission.

our first stop: no answer. second stop: the guy cracked the door just wide enough to accept the food. he was cordial but not interested in visiting apparently. third stop: no answer. (at the center we were instructed that the food could not be returned and that if we couldn't deliver to our designated recipients we should find some needy soul to enjoy the meals. by this time, i decided to try one of the doors that were not on our list.) fourth stop: a hearty welcome and a five minute visit with someone who possibly did not 'need' the service we were providing. oh, well. fifth stop: no answer. sixth stop: no answer. seventh stop (another non-scheduled attempt): a somewhat suspicious no, thank you. (What? who turns down free food?) eighth stop: no answer. ninth stop: no answer. tenth stop: well, that door had a notice stuck in the door jamb so i assumed no one was home there, either.

5 scheduled stops. 10 doors in the corridor. 3 meals delivered total. not a raging success.

we headed back down the elevator, with me wondering if i should just randomly knock on any door in building. i decided against it, figuring that other volunteers would be delivering to this building, as well. when we got back to the lobby, i approached the watch-person and explained what had happened. she looked at the list and reeled off: probably still sleeping, sleeping, out of town, moved. oh, gee. someone should have updated the center. i told her that i could not bring the food back and she said that she would take it back up later when the recipients were more likely to be awake.

so, pooka and i headed out. it was not even 45 minutes of actual work. i was kind of bummed. pooka took it much harder. she groused, "well this is the worst day ever!"

"what makes you say that?"

"no one was home."

no matter how i tried or what metaphor i used, i was unable to convince her that the day was not a disaster. we tried, with giving hearts, to bring some joy and nutrition to people who might otherwise not have it today. we still get points for effort.

at least we got a great story to tell out of it. and i was not dissuaded from trying it again at Christmas.