This week started out great! Saturday, I went to San Francisco on a whim with Tessa and Laura (unfortunately, Alice and her sister were supposed to go too, but Alice got sick) and had a pretty good time doing nothing much! (On the way home I even got a chocolate milkshake from In and Out, which is a pretty big deal if you know my history with milkshakes.) Sunday was spent just lounging around, watching one of the greatest shows of all time- Family Ties. (Alex P. Keaton will forever remain one of my first loves.) And that was where the fun stopped.
Everything on Monday seemed to be normal. I didn't have any gloves to give out, but I had shoes and beanies. One of my casa-mates who works at the park, Anne, felt sick and went home. I had to work the lunch ticket line for a bit while other people were busy doing their numerous tasks. A woman came up to the line and asked when the last time was when her brother was here. A note on the screen said he passed away in his sleep on Friday night. Fortunately another co-worker (Mark) was there and handled the situation. I was dumbstruck. I dove into the office and checked the lists Tim and I keep for hats, gloves, and sleeping bags. Yup- I gave him gloves a week ago. I knew him. I met him. I took down his name. And now, he's gone. He was the first guest I know who has died. And I can't remember his face.
Sure I said comforting things to myself. "You see hundreds of guests a day." "At least he had gloves." "I bet I was nice to him." I even conjured up a facial image that might be him. But I'm not sure.
So Monday was depressing at work. Later that night I had an awful yoga experience but came home to a great community night with our support people, Madonna and Larry.
That night, I got sick with "the disease," a flu that is spreading around our house. I took Tuesday off and felt good enough to work on Wednesday.
Wednesday came and went without anything much happening. I stayed out of view for the most part, ate lightly, and did not over exert myself, but Anne was still not feeling better and another one of my casa-mates, Tessa, came down with "the disease."
I went to work again Thursday, but was not feeling as good as I wanted to. A large shipment of gloves came in though. Having gloves is a mixed blessing. They keep the men happy and warm who get them, but there are only about 20 pairs to give out in a day. I have to keep track of the men I give gloves out to. If they already got a gloves, I have to turn them down. The gloves got stolen? Sorry. You lost them? Sorry. You gave them to your girl? Sorry, she could have gotton them at Maryhouse. I'm checking state issued identification for frickin' gloves!
Fortunately, there are several other places that hand out hats and gloves, but I hate turning guys down.
Later that day, a man asked for shoes. His shoes appeared in good condition. I can only exchange shoes when they are ripped, haves holes in the soles, or are hardly shoes at all. I told him no. He told me in a polite but demeaning way, "I'm not going to beg for shoes. These have holes in them, but don't worry Baby Girl, I'm not going to beg for shoes." I immediately apologized and asked where the holes are. He repeated his statements, and asked me to go away.
I'm used to this kind of talk. I'm used to saying no and being called awful names, much worse than that. But this hit me hard today. I found a quiet spot on a park bench and debated with myself. I apologized more in my head. I felt immense hurt at the way he said "Baby Girl" as if I was something of a pristine child that doesn't understand and doesn't care. Maybe I don't fully understand, but I know I care.
I felt nauseous once again and raced to the office. I find my bosses talking alone in the office and ask to go home. They ask simple questions, but I only want to go home. Without hesitation, they say okay and Jim drives me home.
I amble slowly because my body is racked with guilt and pain. I find my way to the bed, and cry.
This is the first real cry I've had in years. (Sure, tears have leaked out occasionally and I've swallowed a lump in my throat more times than I'd like to admit, but I don't genuinely release my tears often.) I can't get over how I've contributed to a man's lack of dignity. I cry over him, and his words. I cry for the man who died that I can't remember, but knew. I cry because of the pain I feel is nothing compared to the pain that almost all of our guests live through on a daily basis.
My short-lived tears turned into a few hours nap. I called Beth, told her as little as possible, but wanted to hear a friendly voice. My mom beeps in and I talk to her. She cheers me up with a little story and reminds me how much I'm loved.
Today was much more bearable, though I avoid the man who refused shoes. I take it light, don't eat much, pass out gloves, hear what a good job I'm doing, and try to help a man pay his electric bill.
Tonight, I'm going to a christian music concert (Winter Jam) with a few people from the Newman center on Sacramento State campus. I haven't been to a christian concert in months, and am excited at the possibility of feeling normal again.
This week has been rough, and another one of my casa-mates, Laura, got "the disease" today. Though I'm feeling less achy and am trying to keep my spirits up with juvenile novels, Family Ties, and inspirational books, I can't deny this week was seriously sucky. I hate crying, but I will admit, I feel better. I know that next week will be better (it is Thanksgiving after all!!) and that God is giving me the strength and courage to continue. I just wish I didn't have to lean on Him so hard.