I think it’s safe to say that at least by society’s standards, I march to the beat of a different drummer. Late 60’s, no ex-wives or kids, yet not gay? Token honky in numerous all black bands? Cum laude college graduate who drove a cab and/or sold ads to whores for over 30 years? Multi-millionaire who waits to buy stuff on sale and then gets a bunch of it to save a buck? Yup! I’m the odd man out all right. Of that I have little doubt. And so it follows that as a daily volunteer, I’m not exactly like my fellow do-gooders. If I didn’t know that before, I certainly found out yesterday.
Given the average “guest” at the Catholic Worker, you’d expect violent outbursts to be the norm rather than the exception. I mean…there are more than a few mentally ill attendees down at the soup kitchen. But ours is a mellow shithole – often because the volunteers treat the guests like human beings. Which apparently makes us unique in the field…at least according to guys I talk to who come from near and far in search of a decent meal (which mostly we don’t serve) and a little compassion.
Well anyway…the dam burst on the violence front yesterday. First, two guys faced off for a minute or two but Gregory (the Doctors Without Borders pilot) jumped in to defray the situation. And then just a minute later in a totally unrelated matter, a dude went nuts on some truly obnoxious woman and picked up one of the heavy wooden chairs to bat the beast over the head. And of course, the woman (who I knew was trouble when she walked in) picked up a chair of her own and threatened to kill the guy.
Exactly what happened to cause all this I have no idea. But I can tell you that fire was shooting out of this guy’s eyes. He was glazed over and ready to “kill a bitch.” In the meantime, I’m at the dish basins washing away while a few volunteers jumped in between the two warring parties.
Now ya see…that’s where I’m the odd man out. For a second, I did my part – holding back the woman (who was nearest to me. There were several volunteers already holding the guy back). And then I thought to myself “I made this woman for a troublemaker the instant I saw her. And I’m not gonna get hit over the head with a chair because my too-charitable fellow volunteers didn’t throw her the fuck out in the first place.”
So I backed off figuring “These two idiots wanna kill each other? Have at it. I’ll continue washing dishes.” Fortunately, nobody got hurt and the guy eventually left. But the horrible chick stayed. And she sat at the table buttering what seemed like a loaf of bread and hoarding several donuts as she talked endless shit at 100 decibels – repeating herself over and over again.
I’ve dealt with enough idiots from all walks of life to recognize this moronic syndrome when I see it. And I’m starting to get pissed off thinking “Why the fuck didn’t one of my fellow volunteers toss this shrew?” Once again, I’m the odd man out. Yes, I’m down with helping the less fortunate. But if somebody’s a piece of shit and acts that way? Go find another soup kitchen, mother fucker! You’re 86’d!”
After about 5 or 10 minutes of listening to this imbecile spouting her ignorant venom, I walked over to where she was sitting and sternly admonished her “You’re repeating yourself over and over again. It’s time to calm down!” Well, I guess I made a dent because she gave me a meek retort and actually shut the fuck up for a few minutes before beginning to boil over again – at which point she finally and mercifully left! Hallelujah! I really had no patience for the monster.
But that’s not the way my colleagues think. They tend toward the liberal side. As in “She’s had a hard life and we have to make special dispensations for the downtrodden.” Yeah? Fuck that! My attitude is “She’s a whore! Throw the bitch out on her ear and never let her back in! And then voila! No more throwing chair bull shit!
Moving on…we didn’t have a lot of volunteers yesterday. So I was working hard on a few fronts (washing dishes, filling bowls, pouring milk etc.) And I was on the dishes when the boss of the day asked if I’d make tuna salad for lunch. As I’ve noted before, I’m the go-to guy for tuna salad. Everybody seems to like the way I make it. So I switch gears to make the dish and leave the washing job to somebody else. That somebody is a milquetoast resident (or actually two of them) who are not only painfully slow at the task…but manage to plug the drains and walk away rather than clear the plumbing! (WTF!?!?)
The volunteers then sit down to eat and begin intellectualizing ad nauseum on how to break up violence. And I’m pondering “Ya did a great job at breaking up the fight. But y’all sucked at washing the dishes!” I got the idea that mostly, the volunteers had been somewhat traumatized by what they’d seen. And that’s fine. But how’s about you be traumatized while you’re washing dishes? Would that be too much to ask?
Well, bottom line: I ate my tuna salad (which was actually pretty good). And then I got up and washed the fucking dishes while everybody watched. What are ya gonna do?