There is no normal day at the park. Yes, we (the green hats) perform typically the same duties, but we meet new people, do odd jobs, mix things up! This week was a perfect example of that!
Nothing of deep importance happened Monday, so I’ll just skip that day, but the rest of the week was chocked full of new things! Tuesday morning, I saw my first fist fight in the park. I had heard about fights, even seen verbal fights, but I had never seen a full brawl before my eyes. I was handing out forks at the breakfast line, when two people on the bridge (about 6 feet from me) started fighting. (My bosses swooped in and stopped it immediately. It was shocking to see both of them in “mean” mode.)
Also on Tuesday, a guest that I hand sugar packets to in the morning, left candy for me by name at the service counter. Two things you need to know to put this story in context: one, I usually hand out sugar packets in the morning with the coffee because I hate working at the service center to hand out lunch tickets and shower tickets, and two I have had guests give me things before (a plastic watch and a Happy Meal toy), but I was with someone else at the time so they gave it to the group. This guest, Tony, handed the candy bars to the service center worker and said, “This is for the Sugar Lady.” (A lot of the guests call me “Sugar Lady” now.)
On Wednesday, I saw a man refilling his thermos with alcohol. The park has 3 very strict rules:
1. No drinking or drugs in the park.
2. No violence or threat of violence
3. No open radios (must have headphones)
Because I did not see him drink, he was not 86ed, but he still left the park. The second milestone that happened on Wednesday was that I attended my first protest! A few of the guests and administration have been trying to get a new program started called “Safe Ground.” This would be a legal tent city with the same rules as the park. (Right now,
does not allow this, and “campers” are constantly getting tickets from the police. Beyond that, the shelters are overbooked, CA is strictly enforcing the “90 day maximum stay at a shelter” rule, and to “discourage” any homeless camping, public restrooms are being locked and water fountains are being shut off.) California
Thursday was our one month anniversary of working at Loaves and Fishes and we received our first earned paycheck! (It is so nice to have more than $3 to your name!) Besides me running out of sugar packets and having a near mob attack on me, Thursday was pretty slow and fun! (People are serious about their sugar! I’m handing out about 6 packets for one mug!) Sugar has returned, but it is no longer in the packet form. My nickname is still safe though, because I’m the sugar monitor. Some will try to pour sugar out of the cans into Ziploc baggies, which is not allowed.
Friday, today, was also fun. Nothing horrific happened; the park got a new full-time worker, I monitored the street for awhile, an ice cream truck showed up, and I went warehouse shopping for the first time! Charlie, a well-to-do volunteer buys out an ice cream truck twice a year, and everyone gets a free ice cream! (I had a firecracker popsicle!) The volunteer organizations (the JVs and the MVs) receive food boxes from the warehouse every few weeks (or every week if need be!) These are food items that they don’t have enough of to serve in the dining room. We got nutrisystem meals, couple cans of beef, chicken, and tomato sauce, two bags of beans, two loaves of bread, grits, Canadian bacon, a 48 package of hotdogs, and other goodies!
Not much is happening this weekend. Today is Mexican Independence day, so we are having some friends over to celebrate fiesta style! Saturday, is the Tamale festival that a neighboring program (Clean and Sober) puts on. I need to start cleaning, hanging streamers and making the chili con queso. Toodles!