The line stretched out into the street, so far from its origin I couldn’t tell where it began. It was growing steadily; I stopped counting at 75 people. Those in the line were all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. They weren’t talking to each other, but had the resigned look of people on an elevator (you know the look. I’m pretending I’m not here. But I have to be. If I look up, vacantly, I don’t have to interact.) The only exceptions to the ‘no talking’ were those that had been engaged by what appeared to me to be reporters. There were 3 or 4 significantly better dressed & made up questioners with clipboards & notepads, hastily recording the results of their short interactions, then picking out another person in the line to talk to.
I was intrigued; why are all these people standing in line in the middle of the day? Rather than go up to someone in the line, or ask a passerby, (which would require actually talking to & interacting with someone I don’t know, a stranger, a behavior I am not oft known to engage in,) I decided to do a little investigation to see if I could figure it out myself. Got out of the car & wandered in the direction of the headwaters of the mass of humanity queued around the block.
I had taken 3 steps when it hit me.
I know that building.
Middle of the day.
Everyone was standing in line so they could get something to eat.
My eyes scanned the people in line again, this time looking at faces, individuals, people. They look like my neighbors. Like the people I run into all over this big/little city. Definitely not matching up with the tired stereotype of the grubby-toothless-homeless dude.
Men. Women. Children. Grandparents. Wanna-be gangstas.
Waiting for lunch.
I prayed that St. Vincent’s wouldn’t run out of food today.
Climbed back in my car, realizing that something had happened to me in that brief moment. Still not sure what it was. Feels significant, but I’m too close to the trees to see the forest.
Decided just to head back to the office & not get lunch; to skip it today.
I have a choice to do that, whether or not I eat at midday.