"I differentiate between maniacs and crazy people. A maniac will beat nine people to death with a steel dildo. A crazy person will beat nine people to death with a steel dildo - but he'll be wearing a Bugs Bunny costume at the time."
There was chaos yesterday morning. Not your ordinary (Wing-Nut) chaos either. Yesterday was a Wednesday, the 6th of March, the year 2013, and some folks have spent their entire social security checks and are broke, again. This is my fault, apparently, as they somehow twisted it, molding their agenda accordingly, making me the antagonist, apparently. Only to then ask me for a cigarette a minute later, and when I tell them I'm "sorry pal, but I don't smoke," the ingrate shouts, "Well f*ck you then!" Now, I didn't turn the man down... I simply informed him that I did not smoke. Therefore, I did not have a cigarette to give him. Possessing a cigarette when one doesn't smoke doesn't make much sense, unless that non-smoking person relays the drug to a "friend" or a trash receptacle.
But I digress.
A large group lines up as others enter the church grounds and wait impatiently inside. This is how things have been done since Methuselah's birth, awaiting the white van to arrive, so the lucky few are able to grab a container, hot plate, or bowl of eggs, to receive much ballyhooed a red-numbered-carnival ticket, so they can get their food ahead of the general bummery, kin to a "V.I.P." line. Yeah, it's classicist alright. Which tells me it's always going to be classicist, even amongst those with nothing; especially amongst those with nothing.
So we're all standing there like we're awaiting the referee's instruction and ball at the foul line, as at least fifteen people stand and talk on each end of the crackly-painted-asphalt parking space. The conversations vary from the Pope to what we're going to be having for breakfast, again. Usually, once the van arrives, the doors fly open, on each side, as does the hatch door in the rear. Then there's a mad rush to grab items to get the red ticket.
There are volunteers in the van. So, for them, it may be something like "Dawn of the Dead," or even more appropriate, "Return of the Living Dead," when they see a bunch of swarthy, unwashed, desperate, shabbily-dressed, lost-soul-looking, mostly-non-shaven men staggering while stammering and muttering about someone getting in their way of that coveted red ticket, and can be frightening if not used to it.
The only other instance in which this scenario could be compared to would be the "Prado Day Center" in San Luis Obispo, California, where the same demographic lines up near a fenced-off stretch of driveway that runs about one-hundred yards in length, eventually spilling into the parking lot of the Prado Day Center, and where the "winners" of the audacious race receive a "chore," so they can receive bus tokens back to town, instead of having to walk, which is only a couple miles. But watching as people fight for the little scraps they can get and the scenarios they can control illustrates just how bad things can be out here.
Usually, most waiting get something, so they can get their V.I.P. red ticket and get their food and move away from all the insanity that ensues generally. Sometimes volunteers in the van have that look on their face, the look of complete and total abject fear, but they soon get over it and eventually serve everyone with a gracious smile. Well... apparently, someone watching our frenzied-histrionics complained to the city about it, because at Tuesday night's city hall meeting, our city "leaders" told Trinity Church they had to control the situation by unloading the contents out front, on Bancroft Avenue, and there would only be a select (hand-picked-before) few who get the privilege to do so.
Now, most of the clientele using Trinity's services do not attend city council meetings. Even when the agenda for the evening is about the "homeless," it is difficult getting people to show up. Hell, it's difficult getting folks with homes to show up to a city council meeting, let alone those who are anti-social to begin with, and don't want their dirty laundry broadcast all over the place, or don't like the judgement that will ensue from their appearance in a closed and controlled environment. Therefore, if you're thinking it's their fault, because they did not inform themselves, you can put that theory to rest. There was sufficient time to tell us all of the change but the information was held back because of fear; fear of how people would handle it.
As we all awaited the free-throw shooter, referee, ball and whistle to proceed, one of our fellow destitute clients started speaking, "They've changed the way it's being done. From now on they are unloading it in front and they are only allowing five or six people to do it." All of us stood there as though he was speaking Swahili, and when I asked someone about it, they said, "Nah! He's just some looney. They've been delivering it right here for eons, and now they're going to up and change it? He's nuts." Now, that may be true: the delivery man may be "nuts" and he may be "looney," but he was correct about the information this time around... something that should have been given to all of us before it all went down.
No, not because I or we were butt hurt over the fact that we didn't get to eat earlier than someone else. Not because of anything shallow or self-serving like that. But because of what happened next. What is great and so shitty about this story is, on the good side it shows our problem. It highlights why the human race can't seem to get past ourselves. And the bad part is the good part, ironically, again. We can't seem to curtail certain behavior that makes people feel disenfranchised and agitated and promotes and fosters apathy and relinquishes all hope for ascendance from their current struggle. It's the little things, everyone. It's all this little annoying sh*t that adds up to people babbling in corners with drool streaming down their extended-bulbous lower-lip, not caring at all that it's happening; not knowing that its happening.
What happened was, we all walked from that makeshift free-throw line like lost children being told the birthday party and ice cream and cake would be cancelled and we would all have to go to school, instead. We were dazed, taking our eight-count, meandering our way up those lonely, dirty stairs. Once inside we wandered, like a zombie without a brain to devour. We were a snake without prey. We were savages looking for meat but found sand, instead. Usually, two lines form. One line for food and the other line for milk. Others make their scramble for the coffee containers, sugar, strawberry jam, and non-dairy powder creamers, while all the volunteers and workers set up for the morning's feed.
Usually, everything is orderly in a disorderly sort of way. Again, it's chaos, but it's controlled chaos. And minus a few ignorant altercations that occur primarily at the middle and end of the months, because patience wears thin, because crack heads need their crack and sodomizing isn't only performed on the poor by the city council; some poor folks actually like doing it to one another every once in a while. And when they run out of cash and condoms (hopefully) they come back to Trinity and complain to me about how I'm a piece of sh*t because I don't have their habit readily available to them. No, we're not perfect, but tolerance is something needed in today's world, something those who would have us disappear into vapor are in short supply of, lately.
Yesterday morning there stood and wandered slowly and lost a bevy of confused people who had no clue what was happening to them or why, other than what the one guy told us, which was enough to know that things had indeed changed, but we were never informed of it, nor was anyone in a big hurry to explain it to us, either. So the less information we received, the more people just stood around, watching (the-special-chosen) people bring in the food and coffee and utensils and cups. The problem was, however, all these people were standing in the front area of the dining hall, near the door and where the food was being brought in from the kitchen, so there was a cluster of people congregating, of sorts... a stagnation of human beings who were already stagnating.