Sunday, 5 December 2021

Food Store Adventures

 A local church runs a discount food store on Wednesday mornings. I'm not sure where all the food comes from, there's bread from major supermarkets and I think Foodbank or Ozharvest.

Clients are asked to show their pension card and are issued a number. The shop is small and only one or two people can go in at once so they sit in the church hall and wait for their number to be called.

As part of my chaplaincy training I attend the market and chat to people as they wait. It's great practice for striking up a conversation with a complete stranger.

Slowly, I'm getting to know some regulars. Bess makes coffee for everyone. She is a survivor of complex trauma and her ex-husband destroyed all the poetry she had written since her teens, including performance pieces. Poetry was laid aside for a long time but she is taking it up again.

Ian lives two streets away from me and can describe the streets as they were 50 or 60 years ago. He went to school at Narwee Boys High and feels that by the closure of the school (I think over a decade ago) "they" are trying to erase his history, his very existence. He mentions death a lot and binge watches a wide variety of DVDs. He usually makes a purchase at the thrift store as well as the food store and then heads to Hurstville for a McDonalds lunch, though this week he was looking forward to some highly discounted canned spaghetti.

Tina brings her ipad with her and makes her online shopping order as she waits. She has a wheeled shopping bag with her and I was surprised to learn that contained in the bag is a container of chocolate powder which she sprinkles on the coffee made by Jess. Her husband seems to be developing alzheimers and scares her at times. I quietly wonder if it's only recently that he has scared her.

Volunteer Deirdre is very opinionated and expresses her less than woke opinions to everyone. So far I have tried to challenge her assertions twice and failed miserably. The teeny crosses she wears on her collar give me the shudders.

One client was delighted to hear that our sons were in the same year at school but I didn't recognise the boy's name. When I asked Liam about it he said the boy was not too kind to him. 

Then there's Rita. I don't even know what her position is, maybe the manager of the thrift store. Rita is smart and kind and unfailingly positive without being sickly or toxic. She often says to someone "I have just the thing for you" and pulls out a book or item of clothing for them.

It's always interesting to be there and I've completed about 20% of my allocated hours so I will be there quite a few more times, chatting up a storm.

**names have been changed



Practical Parsimony said...

Deirdre does not seem like a good fit for this position. Can she be replaced? You have an interesting job. I am quite sure you are kind and supportive.

Elephant's Child said...

Poor Deirdre. And from the sounds of it, poor people she interacts with. I think that discount food stores are a great idea - and sadly necessary.

kylie said...

Practical Parsimony, I think it's hard to "fire" a volunteer so I think Deirdre stays for now. None of us are perfect, she just has imperfections I find harder to understand

kylie said...

basic wages are low and social security payments are worse and of course food is the first thing to economise on when every bit of income is spent on essentials. We could do better.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

It's always nice to find out about other people's lives. Everybody's story is different. I guess that some of the people you talk to rarely get the opportunity to tell their own tales.

By the way, when changing people's names in the name of confidentiality, why not use more exotic names like Esmeralda, Rufus the Ruffian, Sir Gawain the Green Knight and Princess Betty?

Ms Scarlet said...

I hope you continue to make notes. Other people are fascinating.
It'd have bottled challenging Deirdre - well done for trying.

kylie said...

YP, If I was to change your name, I'd use "Phoebe's Grandad, the Pudding of Yorkshire"

kylie said...

Ms Scarlet,
Deirde will never be changed but I like to let people know she doesn't represent me :)

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

A great way to be trained for the chaplaincy.