“My name is Alice and I’ll be your server.”
We exchanged glances, amused by the ancient woman who would be waiting on us this lunch. I know we each surreptitiously checked her out. She stood no taller than 4’8”. Her face was deeply wrinkled, Sharpei’s have fewer wrinkles, I thought. Her grey hair was pulled into a bun that had once been neat and now showed signs of a long day. Giving her our drink orders, we turned our attention to the massive menu.
Alice returned in a few moments our drinks in hand, barely able to withstand the weight of the soda and coffee. Shaking, she placed the cups onto the table. Relieved to have succeeded at that task, she pulled out her order pad and a pen, ready for our orders. We each spoke loudly, not wanting to cause her any issues. Task completed, she shuffled off to place our order.
We spoke about her quietly. “How old do you think she is?” “At least eighty.” “I truly hope she’s working because she wants to, not because she has to.”
When our orders arrived, she carried them over on trembling hands, my soup spilling as much on the table as there was in the bowl. My companion needed ketchup, but decided he didn’t want to make her schlep back and forth to bring it to the table. Alice beamed at us, checking to make sure all was okay. We watched her shuffle off to her next table, amazed at her calmness.
As we finished, Alice returned, check in hand. Placing it on the table, she wished us a happy holiday and showed us the turkey picture she drew for us. It was a beautiful turkey on a platter, complete with rising steam.
Leaving a generous tip, we left the diner, but she stayed with me. Please let her be working because she wants to, not because she has to.
There’s something heartbreaking about our elderly poor. Those who worked hard all their lives, only to have their life savings flushed down the toilets of bad investments, pensions reduced or gone thanks to corporate bullshit, or just a lack of savings. Medical costs not covered by Medicare spiral upwards, as the donut hole sucks at their social security payments. Taxes, utilities, and food costs go up, as the ability to shop around for better prices becomes more challenging.
But they exist. In growing numbers. Thanks to programs like Meals on Wheels, they are not as visible as the children living in poverty. Thanks to the recent economic turndowns, retirement funds are generating significantly less, requiring real changes in lifestyles. Some, like Alice, have to keep working. These men and women have done nothing wrong but age. For those who planned for their retirement, unexpected expenses may have happened. Others may have invested poorly. Others just barely made ends meet before they were laid off. Now, at an age when they should be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor, they worry and stress about food and housing costs.
Hunger affects people from all walks of life, at all ages. You can do something to help change it. Raise your voice, open your wallet, and work towards helping those in need.
By: Lauren J. Walter November 13, 2008
This blog is part of BAH – Bloggers Against Hunger. Please check out some of the other pieces and make an effort to do something to help.
www.blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=286466630&blogID=448493523 – What Are You Going to Do to Help
www.blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=367628121&blogID=448473438 – Please Don’t Look Away
www.blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=52886015&blogID=448438545&Mytoken=675B724A-7458-4CE1-B1CAA4543C2F80A922657410 – Blogging Against Hunger in America
www.ramblingmisha. blogspot. com/2008/11/blogging-against-hunger. html – Blogging Against Hunger
Norman Borlaug and the Fight to End World Hunger
https://ljwwrites.wordpress.com – Children of the Soup Kitchen