I only go to these places because starvation is not a pretty way to die. This is only my 4th time at this particular soup kitchen. On my way, I see a man attempting to get off the bus but having a great deal of trouble. I consider helping him but I know how fiercely independent many disabled people are (including myself) and I don't want to insult him.
He has a walker, 3 large canvas bags and a prosthetic leg which he hasn't yet mastered the use of. I wonder if he too, is going to the soup kitchen. It turns out he was. On the patio, everybody is smoking cigarettes. Can I handle 12 minutes of this? Turns out not, I begin coughing.
I hope they still have the rule that women get to go first. There is a semi line forming outdoors but it's about as organized as 6 year olds lining up for recess! About 15 men go first, then a woman. I decide not to go infront of the 15 or so men, thinking likely they are all eventually going to give way to the women. Once inside I'm surprised another line forms. It is so long and it is shaped like a horseshoe. I'm surprised how many there are.
Let me backtrack to the patio. The man Carl* with the prosthetic leg asks me if I'm "from Mountain Town" I tell him that I need a t-shirt that states: "Almost Local!" because I'm qualified to answer most questions! I've told you in prior logs that I will help people within reason but not to the point where giving help is going to suck the life blood out of me!
He wants to know how to get to "the church" I start by asking him if he needs the church for low income help or for worship. Once he says "for worship" I tell him that not being very churchy I'm unlikely to know much about it. I tell him about the "Mountain Town bible" (i made up that name) which is a 2 sided sheet of paper telling all the resources. His questions became very unreasonable and I told him that he was going to have to go inside to the soup kitchen and ask them.
So many people you can tell, not only do they want one or two questions answered but likely they're just plain scared at this new homeless gig, and what they really need is a full time assistant!
I alerted staff that he needs lots of help.
Anywho, the director says a prayer and we begin to head for the food. People are hemming and hawing and being indecisive about approaching the table. Not me I just went. I wondered how many slices of pizza you are allowed but i didn't ask. I see most slices are very tiny but I find one large slice and take that. There is soup that looks mostly like broth, I don't take it. There is good high quality yogurt and a couple of different types of pasta. Unfortunately all there is to drink is kool aid.
I choose an end seat and wonder who is going to spill soup down my back. I'm watching the line progress and it's a sad sight. because the leader is barking orders every step of the way:
ONE SLICE YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT BY NOW. WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU? CAN'T YOU SEE ALL THE HUNGRY PEOPLE BEHIND YOU IN LINE?!
Then, a man gets kicked out. For the first time since being in Mountain Town I feel really sad for Bernie. He is lucid with an invisible friend and has always in the past made me uncomfortable because he stares at me. But today I feel really bad. His eyes begged? BUT WHAT DID I DO WRONG WHY DO I HAVE TO LEAVE? I HAVEN'T HAD ANYTHING TO EAT TODAY?!
They tell him he touched too many plates. Fearing that he forgot about the other soup kitchen, I yell out to him to come by the other one at 4 p.m. for an early dinner.
This is a mostly depressing place. There is one guy at my table who comes across as having a middle class or better background. Clean, polite, well dressed well spoken.
Typically the most I do is say hello and that's it in these sorts of environments. For as depressing as it is-I feel better after I eat.
I walk to the bus and I see Carl again. I tell him that I alerted staff that he needed lots of help. He told me WELL I CAN'T GET USED TO MOUNTAIN TOWN SO I'M JUST GOING TO MOVE TO WISCONSIN.
(I think, yes, but truth is, THERE IS NOWHERE TO RUN)