Monday, December 24, 2012

A different kind of Christmas. A.K.A. “The Sandwich Run.”

A different kind of Christmas. A.K.A. “The Sandwich Run.”

There are only a few people who would know what this means. My MN BFF, my parents, my Aunt Pat and a friend of mine from India. Up until now, I’ve never discussed my Christmases. Our band usually plays every holiday never fail. And even when we are finished I slip out into the night unnoticed to celebrate my holidays as I have for the last 15 years or so… but it’s always been a secret.

My holidays are for a select crowd to view. That being God and some new friends I make along the way. I am sharing this blog solely for the purpose of possibly educating or bringing some understanding on something you too can do any day of the year. This post is in no way shape or form to put my self over or make “me” look good. So please no comments of praise, all I ask is that you listen and maybe learn something about something I do that I’ve had a lot of luck with.

I’m sure my friends always wonder why if I’m off work and not able to get home that I decline their holiday invites. Well, it’s because I’m preparing for my own little holiday. It’s not what you would expect. I remember meeting this gorgeous Indian woman at an apartment complex I lived at years ago here in Nashville. We got to be friends and she asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving. It was her first here in the states.  I told her I was doing a “sandwich run” and if she cared to join me, to come along. She didn’t ask any questions, just showed up the next day to see what it was all about.

There were several hundred pieces of bread placed on about every clean surface in my space. I told her to start grabbing meat, lay it down, spread some mayo & then put some cheese on & assemble. She did. We put them in sandwich bags, added a bag of chips and in a brown paper lunch bag they went. All those bags then went into garbage bags & we were on our way.

My friend Zeenia still didn’t know what the hell was going on. She didn’t care. She is about the most beautiful, kind and caring person I could ever meet. She has completely “different” beliefs from me, background and up bringing. She lives in a culture where marriages are still arranged. It’s funny; I am Catholic, a “Christian” if you will. And so many other “Christians” I know are always passing judgment on those who have different beliefs than we do. Funny, once again, my partner in crime doesn’t fall into the category of those whom my associates believe to be saved, yet that day, she saved many.

Most of my friends and people I hold dear to my heart fall into a category some say will never be saved. Maybe all the stories about Jesus I heard growing up sank in a little differently for me than the other kids. My “Personal Jesus” was one of acceptance & forgiveness. I wasn’t more than 6 when I learned his best friends were a prostitute and a tax collector. I started to see things in a way others didn’t. I saw people being persecuted in school because they were “different”. They didn’t fit in; they stuck out, didn’t dress as well as the other kids, stuttered or had disabilities. And I watched them be bullied. And I began to be their defender.

Those “different” kids grow up though. And people continue to judge becoming an authority of who is and who isn’t getting into the kingdom of heaven. I find it fascinating that they all know so much more than God. After all, they are passing judgment here on earth before they really have all the answers. It will be interesting when we all die, because I think the amount of “faggots & queers” that will be burning in hell will be fewer than many “Christians” can imagine. I believe there will be an even better “heaven” for them all, one that even I couldn’t get into, because I didn’t go through the same hell on earth so many of my friends already have. They will have a golden ticket if you will, into the pearliest of gates because of all the charity work they do for youth groups, hospice centers and volunteer centers. The ones throwing stones at those with different beliefs seem to forget about all of that. For those haters possible reading, just to clarify, volunteer means “you don’t get paid.”

So me and my friend with a “different” set of beliefs than me set into the night as I showed her “my” Thanksgiving.

It is key to remember that some people may be afraid of you. Some are mentally ill, handicapped, and sometimes delusional or extremely high. It’s good to go with a friend and have a buddy system. I used to go on my own against my ex boyfriend’s wishes, into the worst part of downtown Los Angeles. I go alone into the heart of prostitution, drug trafficking and people majorly abusing drugs. I can honestly say, I never had one damn problem occur. I never felt unsafe or that anyone would do me harm.  I’m not saying for any of you to do the same, I just want to paint an accurate picture.

There are ways I learned to approach these people that come across sincere, gentle and kind. This is what I hope to share with you. People are proud I’ve found. And just walking up and offering them food or gift cards doesn’t always work. So I showed my friend Zeenia, who was right beside me holding lunch bags, what has worked for me. It’s important in approaching a homeless person that you are confident and that you have a soft gentle smile. Keep your distance and obtain eye contact. Smile again. What always works on our sandwich runs is this; “Hey, we have extra bag lunches as work and can’t eat it all. Would you like some? Or simply say, “Did ya eat today? We’ve got some extra.” Keep it “S.S.H.” That’s Short, Sweet and Humble. Don’t come across like you’re the almighty. Just simply someone who has some food that doesn’t want to go to waste.  I give them the goods, wish them a good night & split.

Zeenia started to get really good at it. She didn’t talk much at first, but began really spotting people under bridges and along the streets & riverbanks who could use what we had. Tread lightly when going under the bridges because you are usually going into someone’s “home.” I always say “excuse me, I’m not trying to disturb you, just had a little extra & wanted to share.”

You would be very surprised at the answers you hear. The stories people take the time to tell you. Many of these people are disabled and will never be able to find a job. It is very important that in our busy lives that we keep open eyes to the people around us who need us. They are usually not sponsored by an organization or being helped by a church. They are dirty, raw & just usually “in our way.” Go for the ones that turn their heads, don’t look at you, the ones that ARE NOT at ever intersection making a business out of being homeless. Go for the ones too proud to ask. The invisible.

Today I did a different take on The Sandwich Run. I wasn’t going to tell anyone but my best friend, but this story filled me with so much joy that I have to share. Because maybe someone reading this will apply it the next time they see someone like this. It doesn’t need to be a holiday. It can be ANY day.

I was running errands today. As I left a store, I saw a woman with a tattered suitcase & bags, parking it all outside of a Walgreens entrance. She checked her pockets and there was nothing in them but just that, a pocket. She shook her head & started to walk away. She didn’t look around, she didn’t ask for any help. She just started on her way. I left the parking lot, but then thought to myself, go back there & talk to her you selfish bitch. You have something to eat tonight, I bet she doesn’t.

I pulled back in, rolled down the window, drove along side her, smiled really big and said, “excuse me Miss. Don’t mean to bother you, but did ya eat yet?” She got all wide-eyed and said, “I sure did! Yesterday! Or did you mean today” she said. I said “today goofy girl!” She said “why no mam.” I asked her if she would like to. All she could say in complete joy was “who me?! You gonna feed me? OMG! This isn’t happening” lol… I told her to can it & meet me over at the Kroger.

I drove over, got out and waited. Here comes this bag woman dragging so much crap behind her like she was on the greatest mission on earth. She wasn’t going to be late for this! I smiled and walked toward her. She stuck out her right hand and yelled, “Can you pinch me! Cause I can’t believe THIS! Things like this don’t ever happen to me!” I gave her a hug and said lets go inside. I told her what I had to spend and said to get anything she wanted within that amount. We put her bags in a cart and off she went like a bat out of hell. I told her there was no rush & no pressure. I would just wait until she was done.


Shortly after we entered she was already done. It was like she had a menu planned in her head & knew EXACTLY what she wanted. I was a little taken back. She came in way under budget. All fresh veggies & fruit. She said she liked to eat healthy. I asked her if she got any meat. She said, “Oh Yes Mam! I got me some barbecue in a bag right here! This is gonna be a feast tonight! I aint never had one like this in a long time. I’m so excited! She then told me a secret item she stashed & asked if it was “ok.” Two boxes of Russell Stover’s chocolates. “Two for one she cried! Can you beat that!” I told her that was my FAVORITE too! She smiled and said; well then take my second box. I said no, that’s for you.

Someone who had nothing, rushed over to meet me. She didn’t take her time. She was thankful, kind, considerate and joyful. He rushed through her shopping to not keep me. She offered her box of chocolate to me without saying, “Well could I get one more thing then?” Are you seeing a pattern here? THIS has been my experience dealing with many homeless people in every area that I’ve lived. Complete gratitude. Complete trust. Complete respect. I’ve only run into one asshole and I made him give me my sandwich back because he was just too rude. He wasn’t even that hard up.  But in every other case, complete angels.

And that’s what this woman called me. Me. Her, “Angel.” I’m just a little humble servant of a higher power. I’m nothing. But to this woman, a simple act of kindness through her into another world. She asked my name and I said, #Goldy Locks, and I asked hers, which was Regina. We stood in line and she put all of her wares on the conveyer belt & smiled in joy as the man rang her up. I had a magazine and asked to keep it out. The man asked me if all of this was together. I said yes. They he loudly stated, “well I was eaves dropping and it sounded like y’all just met.” People were staring at all of her bags and I shot him a very STRONG look and very clearly said, “no, she is a friend of mine and this is together.” Regina, the woman, grabbed my hands. I grabbed her face and kissed her and said “Merry Christmas.” Then I turned to leave. I caught the clerk’s eye as I was making my way back through the store… All I saw was he lip the word “wow.” I just walked away so the woman could go in the opposite direction on her way in peace.

These simple things are for no one other than you and God to see. They are not to be advertised or shared on Facebook but I am making an exception this time. The next time you are feeling lonely on a holiday, remember there are many way worse off than you. Maybe try your own little sandwich run. Buy a few happy meals, or burgers and fries. Maybe just $5.00 worth. Park your car in an area where you might run into some new friends. You‘ll be very surprised at what you will find. If you’re a woman, go with a friend. Maybe after dinner & gifts, excuse yourself for a minute, or do this on your way home from festivities. These folks are like a late night drive through… they are up all night.

See the people around you who are invisible. I promise your life will change. When people ask me what’s my secret for always being happy & in a good mood, this is it. I just shared it. I’m filled with the spirit and gratitude of many many special people.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

* These images are not the actual people being written about, just an example of the people I have met along the way.

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