Mike On Purpose

Finding purpose in the twenty-first century

Conversation in a Food Bank

Posted by mikeonpurpose on June 10, 2010


“You look familiar,” I said to the woman standing across the table from me at the food bank.  “Did you volunteer at Medshare?”

She nodded.

“I think you were at the same table that we were.”  The “we” in that case being myself and my girlfriend, who was standing to my left, weighing the bags that I was handing to her after I scooped rice into them from a bulk container.

The woman clearly didn’t remember me.  “I was a little distracted,” she explained.

“It takes a lot of mental effort trying to figure out where to sort all those medical supplies,” I suggested.

That, it turns out, was not why she was distracted.  “I was on a date.”

I was picturing in my head the idea of volunteering as a date activity, which seemed like a very cool concept, when she then went on to add, “You’d think that if he volunteers that would mean he was a nice man.  But that was not true.”

I guess that just goes to show how complex humans are.  Volunteering does not prove one’s “nice” credentials. And few of us who volunteer can even remotely be characterizes as saints.  Volunteers are just people who are trying to do something meaningful or important or helpful, which does not preclude the possibility that in other contexts we can also be selfish; nor does it preclude fact that we who volunteer are human beings with all the attendant flaws and warts that being human implies.

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