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leftover soup

leftover soup

Counting other people’s money felt like a privilege to me and recently I recalled rolling coins, along the way throwing some into a bin the owner didn’t want because they were bent and the bank wouldn’t take them. He considered it a loss so I asked if I could take them home and without a blink he said yes.

Although I was working a full-time job it was just enough to pay for rent and utilities. There was nothing left over to feed myself and because the memory of asking for help was burned into my mind from watching my mother I’d decided early on I’d never ask anyone for food, even if it meant starving because as a child I was ashamed of her and had formed the opinion she was lazy and felt entitled to the benefits of other’s people’s work.

By asking for those coins I’d maintained some self-perceived sense of dignity because I didn’t need to explain that those few dollars a week filled my small stomach with top ramen, crackers and cookies. That was my diet for six months, until I’d worked enough hours to prove I could count more than money.

This story came up because a while back I stopped shopping for groceries. According to reports it’s saved me hours that could be spent doing something more productive. So last night an elderly man, the first elderly man to deliver our food knocked on the door. Even through his mask I could tell he was smiling and unlike the others he did a few things that made him stand out.

He offered to bring the food inside and though I declined he looked at everyone in my living room, waved, said hello and wished them a beautiful evening. He looked at me and said thank you after I said thank you to him.

Something about his presence could be felt after he’d gone as something about him reminded me about a relationship with food that I’ve long wished didn’t exist. I associate food with comfort and control and therein is the irony.

There are no words of wisdom, no inspiration I seek to impart except that it may be helpful to remember as you go through your day, that the parts of ourselves we see as invaluable often feeds others too afraid to admit their need and that anytime someone asks a question, it comes with the courage to hear the answer, even if in the moment they are unequipped to accept it.

Be gentle with no thank you’s.

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