Before I moved to Oklahoma from Texas, I had a Meals On Wheels route.
I ran the route alone until my neighbor found out I had one apartment complex on my route that was known for drug problems. Then she went along with me most of the time.
Walli (my friend’s name, short for Walliece) would drive my Pathfinder, and I usually got out and took the meals to the door.
I had a varied bunch that I served.
One man was a hoarder. I never knew what I was going to walk into at that place.
One woman was quite disfigured from a bomb blast while living in another country. The other more seasoned volunteers referred to her as “911.” Once I saw her, I understood why.
The word was not meant to be demeaning. It was just how we kept track of where we were going.
One man was a veteran. When I approached his apartment, I’d find a bucket he’d lowered down with a rope from his second story apartment.
I would greet him and put his meal in the bucket, and he would ease it back up to his patio and disappear into his apartment.
I figured maybe he had PTSD, and wanted little contact with others. So I limited what I said to him and just delivered his food.
One elderly woman was obviously lonely. She always seemed a bit upset that someone had had to bring her food to her door. I tried to put her at ease with small talk.
She didn’t have a lot. But the little patch of dirt in front of her apartment was full of flowers and well-tended.
One woman always had her door unlocked and would tell me to come on in. She often had me open a pickle jar or something while I was there.
In other words, I met all kinds of people. I understood their individual needs and tried to give them the contact they seemed to prefer.
For you never know another person’s path in life until you’ve walked in their shoes.
There was one young man who’d been injured as a soldier. He’d suffered a head injury that affected his speech. But he could serve as a Meals On Wheels volunteer, so that’s what he did. I found that quite admirable.
He and I had some good conversations and a coffee chat or two at Starbucks. He persevered, and that was what was important.
After we delivered all the meals, Walli and I usually went to lunch somewhere.
Meals On Wheels is a valuable service and always in need of volunteers. I couldn’t do it now due to my ankle. But I look back on that time fondly.
You do what you can, where you can. And that makes all the difference.