When I arrived on the first day, I was asked to help with operations. This meant stocking shelves in the basement pantry and preparing packages for home delivery. I didn’t care what job was given to me as I was eager to contribute and ready to work on whatever task was needed.
I was quiet and kept to myself. Unlike my day job on Wall Street where I arrive like thunder, at the soup kitchen I was very low key; just a worker-bee ready to follow orders. But my Type A personality doesn’t leave me and I performed every task with speed and efficiency – and it was not before long, that the quality of my work was recognized and I was promoted to a front office job serving food.
The work was rewarding and it was my privilege to serve the people and those whom I served were gracious and appreciative.
By the third day I had secured my position in food distribution – so when I arrived, I knew to go straight to the cupboard to outfit myself with an apron, rubber gloves and of course a hair net. Not exactly a sexy look, but I put vanity aside in the name of charity.
On the fourth day however, I arrived to a state of commotion. The director of the soup kitchen was standing in the middle of the dining room speaking to silver-haired gentlemen while all other staff member scurried around with enthusiasm. Although the silver-haired man was casually dressed I could tell that he was someone important. He came with an entourage which included a photographer and in the background the soup kitchen staff fluttered in water cooler chatter.
I was curious myself, but my focus was outweighed by my preference to work, so I went about my business and began to set up. While all kitchen staff was prepping, we were approached by the photographer. He asked if any of us had an issue with having our picture taken. Apparently, Governor Christie makes each of his cabinet members and directors donate their time, to a charity of their choice, during the holidays. I was less than thrilled with the idea of being photographed, but the staff was excited to get their fifteen minutes of fame – so I went along.
The rest of the day continued uneventfully with everyone doing what they normally do: I did my thing and served the food, the politician did his thing and postured in front of the camera, the soup kitchen director did her thing and sucked up to the politician and the photographer did his thing and snapped pictures.
The next day I arrived to more commotion. Exuberance filled the air and all the staff was crammed into the director’s office and huddled around her computer. My interest was piqued so I went over and wedged myself in so that I could see the screen. They were logged onto a government website – it was the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DoC).
For a moment I wondered why, but then I recognized the man on the site. It was the silver-haired politician who was at the soup kitchen yesterday. But he wasn’t a politician at all; he was the Director of the Department of Corrections.
I paused for a moment to process the information and made a snap judgment. In my mind I discounted the relevance of the entire experience based on the status of the DoC. This man runs the prison system of the state of New Jersey which in my mind was lower on the social scale than even the Sanitation Department. I was dismissive and instantly disassociated myself.
But the director continued to click forward and everyone looked as they viewed the website – one more click forward and there was a picture of our soup kitchen. I held my breath and closed my eyes. One more click forward and I knew without even looking what I was going to see. I opened one eye and peered through.
Yep, there it was, the most awful picture of me ever – serving food in a hairnet on the Department of Corrections website. Without context, anyone who views the site will think that I work in a prison – THAT’S JUST PERFECT. And so it goes – no good deed goes unpunished. Thanks Karma – thanks for nothing.