- 8:27 p.m.
It’s been 20 days since I’ve last written here, as smugly pointed out to me by the diaryland members window. As if. As if I needed to be reminded how sporadic my entries have been. Lately. Always(ish). Thank you for your continued patience, dear reader-friends.
So, here’s the thing. THIS TIME.
I, along with many/most/all/ of you have been IMMERSED in following the events occurring in “The Gulf Coast Region” and the aftermath of the Weather-related, economic-related, class-related, who-the-fuck-is-in-charge-here related horrors that our fellow citizens have been/are being subjected to.
It’s been 15 days since it all began (or many decades, depending on how technical you wanna be)… and I’ve cooled down and done some things (things that I could do). Here’s my little report.
We, my LADY-PEEPS and I, did all the donating of money(s) that we could manage, to charities that would help the humans and the animals, but we still wanted to do more. What could we do? What could we do from THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS?
So, CARLA, of “Carla & Nadine”, the DYNAMIC DUO that are our best gal-pals , started making some calls THAT WEEK, that FIRST WEEK, and arranged that we, the FOUR LADIES, would go do some VOLUNTEERING.
We arrived at THE LOCAL CHAPTER of the INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED UNNAMED CHARITIES RELIEF CENTER (I don’t want anyone googling the unnamed charity that is internationally recognized by a RED SYMBOL and finding this report) and…. we waited.
We arrived early, even though we made a last-minute STARBUCKS side-trip for those among us who are caffeine-addicted, and upon our arrival were directed to THE BASEMENT of THE LOCAL CHAPTER of the INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED UNNAMED CHARITIES RELIEF CENTER.
We were told to wait in a room that contained long tables holding telephones with dry-erase boards all around with phone numbers and other assorted information. “Okay, so we’ll be answering phones. Great. We’ll be taking peoples donations and thanking them and doing our part to help”. Or not.
Half an hour later, after imagining ourselves as the top-performing phone-donation-takers in the history of the organization, a quirky retired couple arrived, wearing PERMANENT VOLUNTEER BADGES (ours were printed stickers, see above “Volunteer” graphic, which has the actual sticker in the background) . So, this couple. Wow.
I love that they are permanent volunteers. I love that they travel all over the states volunteering for the INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED UNNAMED CHARITY, but I gotta tell you. They were odd. Odd and Slow. Odd in a “few sugar cookies shy of an after-blood donation snack” kind of Odd. And Slow, in a "She was OBSESSED with counting things, but she counted them veeeeeeery slooowly" and HE. He had a way about him…. I dunno, something like a weird uncle that you wouldn’t QUITE trust babysitting your kids. Not even in a pinch. It was an essence, nothing solid. Nothing I could put my finger on. But—damn. God Bless ‘em for being there and being PERMANENT VOLUNTEERS. I should "drop the judgment". But still, kinda creepy.
Suddenly, our pre-conceived notion of being phone-answering geniuses was dashed with the arrival of MARY.
MARY was in charge of… it seemed, ALL the volunteer coordinating, plus… many other undetermined things that obviously gave her A LOT of power, because PERMANENT VOLUNTEER COUPLE looked at her like she was A ROCK STAR. And, she was. She arrived and she TOOK CHARGE. She grabbed all of us and sent us to THE KITCHEN. She had decided we would be GREAT SUPPORT STAFF to THE KITCHEN CREW, who would be preparing lunch for 150 + people.
We crossed the hallway and arrived at the ILL-EQUIPPED, TINY KITCHEN and met our new boss, FRED.
FRED was A TOTAL CHARACTER. He claims he never served in the military, but obviously has done some fantisizing about it because we instantly became the young, new recruits to his GENERAL PATTON (or Louis Gossett, Jr. in "An Officer and A Gentleman"). He went back and forth between being bossy/borderline verbally abusive, to flirtatious and chatty. Wow. Double Wow.
He appeared to LOVE having FOUR CHICKS in the kitchen with him (along with his regular support crew of "kinda-creepy hairnet-less volunteer guy from Colorado" who spoke reaaaaaaallly slowly and never quite opened his eyes wider than a squint AND "lovely, sassy and plus-sized Latina-mom" who laughed at mostly anything any of us said… and I wondered WHAT she was doing there? Maybe the same thing we were, but she seemed like a regular, knew the lingo, etc.) FRED screamed orders (“cut those tomatoes!” “fill those pots with water!” “wipe my forehead, it’s dripping”) and intermittently asked about our marital status ("girls like you must be taken, eh?") then pried even further by asking “ where do you girls go for a good time on the weekends?” (FYI- He enjoys going to singles dances and used to co-own a disco/bar in the 1970’s in Riverside, those were the days). Wow.
A few hours of cutting and chopping and pouring and running back and forth to a tragically disorganized “supply pantry” and things started to get accomplished… and started to run out, simultaneously. So…. My AMAZING Girlfriend/Same-Sex Partner/Lady-Lover/Meal Ticket/Volunteer-with-a-heart-of-gold drove ROCK STAR/BOSS LADY “MARY” and our dear, dear “CARLA” to the local MEGA FOOD SUPPLY STORE (it rhymes with “Tart and Vinyl”) where they purchased numerous additional food ingredients for our day of feeding.
NADINE and I were left behind to continue stocking the rooms where the “Evacuees” were being “Processed”. They had us make a giant cooler filled with punch, and were providing “Chips” and “Snack Cookies” for the people to enjoy. Believe me, they weren’t enjoying. They were all in shock. Obviously.
As we ran back and forth between all the areas, we saw several rooms filled with “phone banks” and the kind volunteers that arrived after us, that were now answering them. We saw them and we were actually reallyreally glad that we ended up with KITCHEN DUTY, because with KITCHEN DUTY we had the opportunity to experience waaaaaay more “LUCY & ETHEL VOLUNTEER at THE LOCAL CHAPTER of the INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED UNNAMED CHARITIES RELIEF CENTER” type moments. It was indeed, an adventure.
Meanwhile, “NADINE” and I were told by FRED to “set things up for the feeding”. I was told to get plates and utensils from the tragically disorganized “supply pantry”, which is like telling the U.S. Troops to try and find Osama-Bin-whats-his-name. You know he's there somewhere, but WHERE???? Plates, I finally found, but look at what the folks were going to have to use to deliver the food to their hungry mouths:
That’s right. SPORKS. The ill-conceived hybrid/lovechild of the spoon and fork.
Tiny plastic sporks. Oy. Come on, like they haven’t already been through enough?
And, that’s exactly what I said to FRED.
“Oh, we’re not feeding this SPAGHETTI LUNCH that you can smell in all the rooms and hallways to the evacuees, this food is for the volunteers”.
WAIT. What? Whaaaa? Eh? Come again?????
You mean to tell me, FRED, that we’ve been working ALL MORNING, back and forth, cutting, chopping, laughing at your jokes, washing dishes,filling pots and wiping your sweaty forehead, to FEED THE VOLUNTEERS? The VOLUNTEERS that are capable of BRINGING THEIR OWN DAMN SACK LUNCH WITH THEM?
“Well”, Fred said, “If we start feeding people, we might as well put a sign out front that says FREE FOOD”. “Hmmm”, I said. “I thought THAT was what was implied by your INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED UNNAMED CHARITIES RED SYMBOL”.
I walked out of the kitchen area, really steamed. I went to one of the rooms where “Evacuees” were being processed. Families. Children. Tired. Tired and traumatized. Tired, Traumatized and smelling the spaghetti that’s been cooking in the kitchen all the while sitting in a room with other Evacuees with only Fruit punch, Fritos and off-brand vanilla crème cookies to soothe their maybe-hungry tummies.
A sweet teenaged girl came up to me, her tired, sad face reflecting all that she’d seen and lost in the past week, and asked me so graciously if she could have a glass of water. OF COURSE! SHIT! WATER!!!!! People need WATER, not Fruit Punch. I’ve been “on duty” for 5 hours, and all the higher ups have told me to give them was PUNCH. Fuckin Fruit Punch. Fruit Punch is for celebrating, not for surviving. So, I went and got NADINE and we began making cups of ICE WATER. Lots of cups of ice water, and we walked with trays and served ice water to the people. The people who had been through so much. So much.
Then we created a ruckus. About the food. About the evacuees getting fed. Letting the "Evacuees" have some of the FUCKIN SPAGHETTI that we’d been making all morning.
And you know what?
We stole/we're finally authorized to take a bunch of the spaghetti from the “VOLUNTEER LUNCH LINE” and bring it into one of the “EVACUEE PROCESSING ROOMS” and began serving it to the Evacuees.
So, we were able to actually FEED THE PEOPLE, and do our little part. And leave an impression on FRED ("Those girls sure were spunky"), as he gave NADINE his phone number when we were leaving and asked her to call him so he could visit her “on set” sometime for a filming of whatever TV show she’s working on.
And “MARY”. Well, she was influenced too. Within five minutes of being in the car alone with My AMAZING Girlfriend/Same-Sex Partner/Lady-Lover/Meal Ticket/Volunteer-with-a-heart-of-gold and CARLA, “MARY” .... "came out" to them. Yep. She was a total LEZZIE and thought we were right-on-sisters to be volunteering and even though FRED was CLUELESS as to our “Bachelorette Status”, MARY got a different vibe. Maybe she saw somebody inappropriately touching somebody else (I’m just sayin…) or overheard the sweet-sarcasm in our answers to FRED about our “Husbands or Boyfriends”.
Whatever it was, we were glad we could make a difference. A little difference. With cups of water, spaghetti and our desire to show compassion and love to our fellow man.
I’m sure you all are doing whatever you can to help.
And… I’m sending LOVE and GOOD THOUGHTS to ANYONE who is going through hard times right now. Whatever they are. LOVE, you hear me? LOVE.
Be good to yourselves, eh?
Xoxoxo More soon.