Lucia has something to say

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Unexpected

I was on my way out. To the trash. With frozen lasagna. Seven single-serving boxes. That I wasn’t sure why I bought. Because I didn’t like it. I changed my mind. And posted it on Freecycle. Thinking maybe a student would want it. Since it was free. I put it on my porch. Where it could stay nicely frozen. And left for work.

Things didn’t turn out as I expected.

The first message said, “I will take them. We are so broke and could use the food.”

The second, “Last night we each had a can of corn for dinner. It's crazy. Are those single meals or the family size lasagnas? Either way it's better than corn.”

I stopped. And thought about a family living near me. Who had canned corn for dinner. I wanted to empty out my cupboard. And buy a gift card for the grocery store.

Another message, “We're just running through a rough patch. My van broke down last Saturday (coldest day of the year). They said I have to replace the engine, so basically we have to junk it. Being that I couldn't get to work I lost my job. My husband is working thank god but his paycheck barely covers the house payment and few bills. It's crazy. Thank god they can't turn off your heat this time of year LOL. It's tough.”

I get home as soon as I can. I’ve told her if I get there before she does that I’ll get together more food. But the lasagna is already gone.

The experience has affected me deeply. I think about Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. I become more conscious. Of need in my back yard. I resolve to do more. She is facing this challenge with remarkably good cheer.

Her last message was a thank you. “It took care of dinners last night and the other three were split among us all tonight. Thanks for helping us. If you ever know of anybody throwing any food out please have them contact us. Every little bit helps.”

12 Comments:

Blogger Maggie said...

I'm glad you thought to put it on freecycle. There was a time in my very young days that my mother was taking food from people who donated it and we may have had some interesting combinations for dinners and lunches, but we ate. I remember her making butter from milk that was about to go bad that we had been given and someone gave us a box full of doritos bags. We found every which way to make meals out of those. This really hit home. I have often felt bad that our communities rarely think of giving to the poor unless its Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Oh and one more thought to anyone who catches this: you know those bins for donation? Don't just put in stuff you wouldn't eat, put in stuff you love like boxed cake mixes or brownie mixes, or tea or coffee, because even the hard up like their sweets and yummies.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Wow. What a sobering reminder.

My friend Nestar from Uganda once said - after living in Canada for a year and being completely bafflied with how little we interact with our neighbours - "How can you know whether your neighbour is hungry if you don't even KNOW your neighbour?"

8:39 AM  
Blogger jen said...

it's everywhere, this struggle of poverty.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Gordo said...

It's sad, isn't it, Heather?

We lead such insular lives, cut off from contact with our won neighbours, that it's easy to forget just how many people are slowly starving in our rich countries.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Susan as herself said...

I too have had such "conversations" through Freecycle. It never fails to make me thankful for the simple things I have.

Last fall I gave some old window drapes to a woman who said she had never in her life owned any. Another time I gave a bunch of slightly used toiletries like shampoo and lotion to a woman who said that she usually washed her hair with dish soap.

We are often so wrapped up in the obvious faces of need that we miss the ones that are silently suffering right next door. I wonder how many people in a mile radius of each of us go to bed hungrey most nights... So terrible. And yeah, every tiny bit helps.

1:11 PM  
Blogger meno said...

I've never heard of freecycle. It sounds like a great thing. i will check it out.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Citymouse said...

I will post something soon regarding this... I have not done it yet ...too personal.. but maybe I should, i'll let you know.

Thank you for being so bold... to say what needs to be said.

8:04 AM  
Blogger gr said...

oh man....

8:59 PM  
Blogger amusing said...

I will also check out freecycle. I got a free turkey from the grocery store one year and no one could tell me where I could donate it and it ended up going bad and getting tossed. I still feel guilty....

Living wages, making enough to even get by, is becoming a growing problem in this country. The era of the rise of the middle class, dating from the 1860s, has turned and the middle class is now sinking like the Titanic. This country faces a real crisis.

9:51 AM  
Blogger jo(e) said...

Wow.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

That hit me upside the head, ton o'bricks. I should check out freecycle...thanks for bringing this to light.

12:35 PM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

What a great idea! I've often done that with clothes and books. I hadn't considered it for food. There's always extra frozen stuff around here.

1:13 PM  

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