This afternoon, I was opening up cans and cans of fruits & vegetables and thinking that it was pretty nice that I didn’t have to eat any of it. (Except the canned corn, which I like.) It was my first time working in a kitchen since UNILU, what with the shifts at Open Heart Kitchen all overlapping with business hours — it’s been awhile.
Aside from the gorgeousness of the day and hungry people being fed, two things really struck me in their delicate sweetness. One was the quiet way a few men and women would dress things up in just the smallest, simplest of ways: they would come to the counter and ask, “Well, what do you all have today?”–not unlike the way one would ask for the day’s specials at a favorite cafe. Today was lemon chicken with noodles. They’d ponder it for a moment before saying, with a smile, “Well, that sounds good to me!”
The other was this little girl, Lani. She couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. She snuck in at around four, and the regulars knew her and, after re-familiarizing her with the tally system, put her to work tallying how many meals we gave out. She was quiet, earnest, wide-eyed and so far beyond her years in how she would make herself useful as much as she could. Midway through serving, one of the women made a plate up for her and sat outside with her amongst some of the other guests to eat it. Later on, she even tried to vacuum, using a machine that was nearly her height. When we were just about done cleaning up and I was serving some of the last stragglers, she very quietly asked me if she could please also have some food for her daddy. I packed two plates and watched her take them outside to a man who was waiting to pick her up, before she came back in and kept volunteering for more work until we were ready to leave. She was amazing.