It pays to be grateful.

I meant to discuss how privileged you are if you can choose your food.

An event Thursday night changed that. Sometimes you’re privileged even when you can’t.

That same guy happened to be right behind me in the dinner line. As we approached the serving window, he got all put out because they’d run out of the chicken and French fries. What we had to accept instead:

Four thick slices of hot, tender, juicy, turkey breast with gravy, and this fantastic stuffing.

And mixed vegetables.

Related: I stay at the best shelter on the East Coast
Related: Learning curve

Back when I was receiving food stamps, I could be choosy with my food, and I was.  I never chose anything I wasn’t absolutely sure to eat.  Everything I did buy, I ate.  Nothing ever went to waste.  Nothing ever got thrown out.  Nothing ever went bad in the fridge or in the cupboard.  But I was buying only things I wanted.

Some households blow all their food stamps on the first day they come.  We used to see them in the dollar store:  here comes a family with three grocery carts full of food.  This is not a good idea; this is not good stewardship.  You wind up buying things solely out of curiosity; things you’ll wind up not using, things you’ll throw out, things that’ll go bad.

My housemate Mike came in one afternoon with all these grocery bags.  He’d done that.  He held up a can of Pet milk and asked me, “Is this for pets?”  I shook my head.  He’d spent food stamps on something, he didn’t even know what it was.

That’s how you run out of food stamps.

Once I leave the shelter and have my own place again, whether or not I receive food stamps, I’ll be choosy with my food again.  Certain favorites they’ve never given us at the mission; those I’ll buy.  Lots.  I won’t make pancakes as often in the future as I did in the past; we get pancakes for breakfast here about three times a week.

One thing I probably won’t get, ever again in life, is anything barbecued.

They give us barbecued items here so often, I’m past being tired with it.  The barbecued pulled pork, they’ve given us so many times, about a dozen of us now refuse it.  They feed us so well here, day after day, one can afford to skip the entree, one night.

So, a couple weeks ago, the entree was barbecued chicken legs.  We were lined up in the hall outside, and I smelled the barbecue sauce and at once lost my appetite.  At the serving window, I turned down the chicken.   I went to the salad bar (sic) and got a big mound of shredded Mozzarella cheese instead.

When I got to the table, I was so grateful to have been able to make that choice.  It’s a luxury.

If you’re in a position to choose your foods, rejoice.  You’re living very well.

Originally posted 2016-02-10.

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