Saturday, July 31
Two weeks ago, a guest came lurching up to our table ranting loudly to no one. His eyes weren’t focusing and when we tried to give him a cup of iced tea, he didn't seem to see it. He was a big, tall guy, and the way he was flailing and shouting we thought he was going to hurt himself or someone else. We found him a spot to sit down next to the wall and gave him water and a bag lunch. Once he was sitting down in the shade, he calmed down and sat quietly for the next half hour while we served. As we were starting to pack up, he called my name (I always forget I’m wearing a name tag) and I went over to talk with him. He was calm, serious, and 100% coherent. He told me his name was Jerome and that he has kidney disease, doesn’t like to drink water, and had gotten dehydrated. He had no memory of how he came to be sitting down next to us but knew we had given him water and thanked me over and over for helping him. I was floored by how dehydration had turned him into a different person but it made sense as his behavior was different than what we had seen before (and we have seen all kinds). I told him how he had been acting and he was shocked. We had a long chat about how he didn’t want to go on dialysis and his recent hospital stays. We left him resting in the shade with extra water bottles and Gatorade that volunteer John kindly bought for him at the CVS around the corner. So, this week, who showed up but Jerome, looking to thank us again (and get some water!). He had gone to the hospital shortly after we saw him and been given two IV bags of fluid and held for four days. He said, “You noticed me. You saved me because you noticed me.” I was so relieved and grateful to know he was okay, and kept saying to the other volunteers, "This is Jerome? Remember Jerome?" and they couldn't believe it was the same person. We don’t often get to see the next chapter of the story with the people we serve, so this was a special moment. I asked if we could take a picture together, and Jerome said, “Heck, you can put me on your poster!” Stats: 76 breakfast burritos, 62 bag lunches, bananas, first aid kits and soap and 300 masks.