Respect Your Elders
During the summer and winter months, I'm employed with Catholic Charities of Albany, doing deliveries for their Meals on Wheels program. The idea is to promote good nutrition for older people and/or people who have special needs. I mostly work the weekends, delivering to between 15 and 20 people each day. The routes tend to be planned, so I will usually see the same people each day for several weeks.
I'm not really someone who deals well with emotions, so some parts of this job have been hard on me. In regards to the kinds of people I deliver to, it's a mixed bag, really. Some people live in apartment buildings and I end up doing half my list at one address. Others live in little run-down homes in downtown Scotia and Schenectady. Some of them are in pretty good health, and others are bedridden or worse. And it's not a racially segregated area; I've been to homes with black, white, and Hispanic people alike.
Now, there are some stories I could tell that were kind of heartwarming. A lot of the old folks are very friendly. I'm not a talkative person, but their personalities made them easy to shoot the breeze with. And of course, I live in the Northeast, so the crazy weather is always on the table for discussion.
I can think of one guy who lives not too far from my house. He's got kind of a wise-guy sense of humor, and is always a pleasure to see. And then there was a lady who always made a point of giving me a great big hug whenever I brought her food. You know, for an older woman, she has some pretty staggering upper-body strength. And of course, many of these folks have some amusing animals living with them. Yappy little dogs, beatiful labradors, cats, little birds, and various others. One house had two dogs and a huge parrot living there.
For all the good ones, though, there are a number of people whose conditions just made my heart sink. One lady on my winter route has all but lost both her sight and her hearing. She can scarcely recognize someone in front of her, and she couldn't hear a thing I said no matter how much I tried to speak up. Still, on my way out the door, she usually would give me a little "God bless." She's a sweet woman, and doesn't seem nearly as depressed as I think I would be in that kind of situation.
And of course, there are the numerous people living in Schenectady. The living conditions are deplorable most of the time. Many live with friends and family members, so I get to meet the sons/daughters a lot, as well as grandchildren. Looking around, though, I always feel saddened to think that a family is raising children in such poor conditions. The buildings are always old and run down, and often less than sanitary.