30 days sober and my first day of volunteering

“Here comes Meals on Wheels,” a bored voice flatly calls out.

I am ineffectively trying to keep two bags of food from falling off my makeshift dolly when I hear the woman announce my arrival. I’m in the lobby of a large low income housing facility and a bit turned around.

“Hi,” I reply to the woman, who wasn’t actually speaking to me, “I’m new to this.”

In harshly directive tones, she continues with a litany of who gets a meal, “Jim gets one. He’s the second door on the left. Diane gets one. She’s down the hall…”

“Oh no, thank you very much. I have a list. I just wanted to say hello,” trying to stop her animated directions.

“If they have any leftover they give them to me.”hallway

“Okay, thank you. I’ll let you know.”

I turn the corner and head down the hall. Counting off apartments 5601, 5602… 5603, arriving at the first apartment number on my list.

I collect a hot meal from one of the bags and, as suggested by the volunteer coordinator, knock as loudly as I can.

A dog starts barking frantically, “Kita! Be quiet! Kita! I said be quiet!” The barking stops and I wait. No one comes to the door.

I knock again, “Mr. Johnson? Mr Johnson, it’s Meals on Wheels,” trying harder to raise my volume above that of a blaring television. The dog is barking again.

Someone is fiddling with the handle and finally the door cracks open. Rapidly lowering my glance as I realize Mr. Johnson is in a wheelchair, I see he is younger than I was expecting. The small opening reveals a dark apartment. The only light coming from the television. In a softer, questioning tone, “Mr. Johnson?”

He smiles gently, like a gentleman, but doesn’t immediately answer. In my nervousness I quickly stammer, “Hi. I’m with Meals on Wheels.”

Replying in a slower cadence, as if he doesn’t want to rush our exchange, he leans his head back and looks at me, “And what is your name?”  He emanates the sweet kindness of someone who has suffered terribly. He is hardly aware of the meal that I am holding out to him.

“I’m Jennifer. This is my first day,” I say sheepishly.

Composed, “It is nice to meet you, Jennifer, and I think you are doing just fine. Please call me Jim.” He speaks like a wise teacher to a nervous student. I feel like one.

Taking the meal Jim asks, “So, will I see you next week?”

“Oh, yes! On Thursdays. No, wait. Next Thursday they aren’t delivering, so, on Thursdays after that.” I smile back to him, uncertain what to say, “Is there anything else you need? Or that I can do for you?”

“No, nothing right now. Thank you, Jennifer. I look forward to seeing you next time.”

I deliver eight more meals to apartments in three different buildings. A few were taken by home health care aids, others by recipients that wanted me to deliver and leave, but there were a few, like Jim, who seemed more interested in the human contact than the food.

Meals on Wheels wants the dinners delivered hot, so you are not supposed to dally too much. Jim was first on my list, so I felt a bit rushed. Next time I will deliver to him last, hoping that I have a few more minutes to talk with him before I leave.

It was so easy. It took an hour. This residence is 3 miles from my house.

I look forward to visiting with Jim next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Countup: 30 days of sobriety!

I’ll get my 30 day chip at a noon meeting today!

Countdown: 128 days until I move into my RV!


*names of people and puppies were changed to protect their privacy

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *