Good Morning Sagacious Mitigators,
I want to make it clear that the following story contains my heart and soul and is in no way hyperbole. However some of the names used are fictional to “protect the innocent.”
I had the opportunity to do volunteer work down at the Denver Rescue Mission. Like me if you don’t recall the place, remember the big sign that says “Jesus Saves” on 23rd Street; yes that’s the place. You’re probably asking yourself “Why is zuki volunteering to feed and clothe the homeless?” I’m hip. But if you can keep your sarcastic thoughts at bay for a minute I’ll explain.
If you must know I’m actually trying to give back to the community that kept me alive for a time. For those of you new to this forum, you may not realize that during several calamitous years I lived under the Speer Street viaduct and slept in a refrigerator box!
Now with my newly acquired wealth and influence my conscience compels me to offer a hand of fellowship to those less fortunate. Fecundity aside I don’t want to sound philanthropic or magnanimous about this less I be perceived as stretching it. But the two or three of you still reading this hot meal might be surprised to know I nearly always try to be factual in my accounting, so suffice it to say I felt obligated.
The story began to unfold almost immediately after filling out paperwork waiving liability! ‘Crazy’ John stormed into the office demanding $100 dollars for new clothes! He kept mumbling “He burnt my clothes….he burnt ALL my clothes….Jesus burnt my clothes!” ‘Crazy’ John definitely looked as though somebody burnt his clothes as his weather-beaten face was smudged and singed looking much like Wyle E. Coyote after his ACME jet-boots exploded! In fact I thought he was actually smoldering!
His ranting about Jesus setting him ablaze was unsettling as only one of his eyes worked while the other kept rolling back or staring in the wrong direction. Not knowing his mind made me quite uncomfortable, but thankfully Ray came into the office and rescued me. Ray is the volunteer coordinator for the Mission and has been dealing with the down and out for 15 years! This man is truly a saint! He told ‘Crazy’ John that Jesus hadn’t burnt his clothes but would help him find new duds. Evidently this scene is acted out several times a week and ‘Crazy’ John was appeased for the time being.
In reality though, the Denver Rescue Mission does marvelous work to accommodate hundreds of malcontents, crazies, and fecal stained people in desperate need of a bath. Ray had me work the sorting room. The smell in this small receiving room is that of mothballs reminding me of my late Grandmother’s closet.
I was given the charge of sorting all clothing donations according to size, gender, and garment type. Here is where I met Puddin.’ Puddin’ is an ancient black man who’s been working the sorting room for food and shelter the last 7 years and the man runs a tight ship. Puddin’ has everything organized but keeps a bottle of Gin hidden away in an old desk claiming it’s medicinally used for his Lumbago.
He felt put upon by my presence, but given Ray’s insistence he reluctantly accepted my attempt at efficiency. Given sizes had to be guessed, getting close was vital so I irritated the hell out of my supervisor by constantly asking his opinion about size. He was very good at it! Shoes were particularly challenging given many didn’t come in pairs so we did the best we could to at least pair them up according to size, style, and color. After several hours I could look back with pride at an odd yet interesting row of shoes!
Then with amazing speed and without warning ‘Crazy’ John begins rummaging through our sorted stacks of clothes and shoes as if he owned the place throwing discarded articles on the floor; still mumbling about his clothes being burned. This infuriated Puddin’ who dropped everything and charged ‘Crazy’ John tackling him to the floor! ‘Crazy’ John screamed at the top of his lungs that Jesus owed him while wrestling to keep a mis-matched pair of shoes. I was reluctant to intervene given both seemed to be covered with ‘ick’ and after all I was there to help not referee so I called for Ray.
It had been a remarkable day. I have a new found respect for people with the capacity to empathize with these most wretched of God’s children. Given occupancy regulations only 125 can be served at one time. So they eat and file out getting back in line if they plan to stay the night allowing others to make the 7:00PM deadline. Blankets and floor space is all that’s offered, yet nightly hang the ‘No Vacancy’ sign.
As for me, and isn’t it always about me, I think my conscience is sufficiently cleansed to avoid further sackcloth and ashes. “May the Lord take a liking to ya’s