Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving On The Row 2

My girl, "Love"

After a little while we waited some more. Our fellow resident, Fred joined and waited with us. We waited ten minutes, then waited some more.
We discussed various topics while waiting. Antidepressants, groups at the VA, smoking, why the Salvation Army would close its unique downtown Harbor Light (men) and Safe Harbor (women) facilities supposedly due to a lack of funds, when we all knew that the SA was richer than God. Maybe if they sold some of that real estate down in Palos Verdes they could afford to have kept them open another ten or twelve years and help hundreds more like they helped me when I first got here in 2002. Oh no, the Army doesn't keep anything open that doesn't pay for itself. Now they have no presence whatsoever in the one place they're needed the most.
"Hey," Fred shouted, "They're giving out food over there."
I turned around to see an urgent crowd huddled around a small SUV where some young black ladies were handing out Styrofoam dinner boxes. We left our places in line and rushed over. We weren't giving up anything as we hadn't moved forward at all and few had gotten behind us.
I went to the back of the vehicle to see what was going on. Two lovely ladies were rushing to hand out the last of the boxes from blue plastic bags. They were going fast. I reached out my hand and got the very last one. Fred got one, but Mike missed out. At least he had his U.S. Vegetarian Ration.
"What did you get?" he asked me.
I looked inside to find some nice turkey, a ham slice, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, lettuce, half of a bagel in a plastic bag, and a freaking individually packaged freaking Hostess Cup Cake.
No cooking for me that night.
We returned to the line and resumed our places pretty much where we had left it. Except for Fred. We saw him walk by with my other neighbor, Daryl, past us up toward the front.
"I'm upgrading," he told us. Apparently Daryl was holding a better position in the line and was allowing Fred to join him.
So Mike and I continued our waiting. After a little while we waited some more. We waited ten minutes, then waited some more.
It wasn't the waiting that I minded so much. I'd been to Disneyland. It was the fact that we had already waited for freaking fifty minutes and the line hadn't moved a freaking inch! Freak!
"Mike," I told Mike. "If this line doesn't freaking start to move soon I'm taking off. I've got work to do. I'm going to take a look up front and see what's going on."
"Okay," he said.
I walked up there but couldn't see a thing. They were making a whole lot of racket up on the stage. I returned to Mike.
"I wish they'd stop all the yacking and get on with the feeding," I told him.
I waited a little while longer.
A tall black guy who was standing behind us, and who had given Mike a cigarette, said, "I was at the L.A. Mission yesterday. The line ran around the block twice, and we were in there within forty five minutes."
"Yeah. This line isn't moving."
That was for damn sure.
"I'm taking off, Mike. I've got some other stuff I've got to get done." That was true. I did have other stuff I had to get done.
"Okay Rick. I'm sticking it out. I don't have anything else to do."
"I don't blame you then."
I left, walking south on San Pedro to Sixth, then east. On my way back some people had set up a table with more Styrofoam boxes. Another black lady gave me one. In it was a nice hot dog in a bun with some sliced red onions. I ate that when I got back to my box. It was gooood!
I spent the next few hours writing about our Halloween party and Thanksgiving preparation and celebration while watching the comedy "Without a Paddle." Hey, it was either that or the freaking Godfather marathon, and I'd just seen that a couple of weeks ago.
At two o'clock my neighbor Daryl returned with boxes of food and a bag of gifts he had received from Fred Jordan. He asked me if I had received anything. I told him no, it had taken too long.
"Yeah, I was there since nine o'clock."
I thought the line might had loosened up a bit by now and walked back over there. Besides, I was intrigued by the gift bag.
I found that the line had shortened all the way up to the stage, where an evangelical preacher type person was yelling at the crowd through the loud P.A. system, telling everybody how we must be thankful to God for everything. Like being homeless in the first place. A Spanish interpreter stood next to him translating everything he said. Again the line did not move for the next twenty minutes, and I thought about leaving again, when they started talking about opening the gate and letting the last of us in. The man on the stage said they had just enough turkey legs for those of us left in the line. Soon they moved a barrier and we entered the staging area and took seats at tables.
The man on the stage was very happy that they had enough food for everybody. Apparently I had just got there in time before they closed everything and began to clean up. It seemed they had run out last year and had to turn people away. I personally did not need the food, but I was happy for those there who did.
That day Fred Jordan had prepared 2,000 pounds of huge turkey legs, 80 gallons of gravy, 3,000 bread rolls, and 800 pies, whole pies that they gave away. By the time I was there they were out of pie, but Daryl gave me a piece from his the next day. Apple!
What I did receive was a plate with a great big old turkey leg on it that would later take me a half hour to eat (while watching "The Godfather 3"), potatoes, yams, and vegetables.
Yes the people who came to Fred Jordan today were lucky. But with the state of the economy the way it is, many others, even some close by, were not. I invite you dear readers to the follow the link below to a special Thanksgiving report on poverty during this time and how it effects food distribution from our dear friends at Think Progress:

I didn't eat there, but walked away with my plate so they could begin cleaning up, getting ready to do it all over again for Christmas. They gave me a nice ski cap, white hooded sweater, socks, and some shampoo as I left.
I did not return immediately to my box, but carried my plate of food up to Third Street to the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple they have there. I wanted to make sure I got the spelling of the name right so I could look up their site on the Internet.
I'd be going there very soon.

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