There weren't a lot of brownie customers out in that weather, but there were enough, and most people are incredibly nice -- they almost always thank us for the work we're doing to fight food waste and hunger. That gratitude inspires us to put up with the discomforts and push harder for the sake of those in need.
The day wound down, and we were relieved to hear the 5:00 gong that signals permission to close and pack up. The volume of rain coming down was ridiculous. Katie was soaked to the skin, folding a tarp, when a young man walked up and just stopped, looking at her. She left him alone at first, but when he didn't move, she looked up, smiled, and said, "Enjoying this weather?"
He went off. Totally off. A true rant. "I got woken up yesterday being hit in the head with a golf club, I don't have any place to sleep tonight, all my ****ing money is gone, I'm wet and cold. Not that you would know what any of that feels like, so NO, I'm not enjoying the ****ing weather." That's paraphrased -- he went on a lot longer, first very much in her face, and we were worried that he was going to hurt her. Then wandering off, still yelling about how miserable his life is.
Katie handled it beautifully. She knew it wasn't wise to even speak, that anything could make this guy violent. She just took it, and as he walked off, she quietly said, "I'm sorry!" I was so proud of her.
We finished packing up and got into the warm, dry car, and she got to decompress about it. About how personal it feels when somebody is in your face, even though you know you didn't do anything to deserve it. When people accuse you of not being able to relate, when you just spent the whole day being wet and cold so that you could hand him or someone just like him a meal and a blanket the next day. How depression teams up with anger and attacks your self esteem, and how much strength it takes to pull yourself away from the brink of hopelessness and consciously fight for your own sanity.
My daughter is a beautiful, strong, tender-hearted young woman. I want the whole world to know how wonderful she is -- especially that pitiful crazy man on the street. If we see strength and beauty in one another, it helps us find it in ourselves.