September 18, 2023

Time To Make The Donuts

Image by Rod Long via UnsplashImage by Rod Long via Unsplash

Last week, I spent some time serving at a soup kitchen. This soup kitchen no longer serves soup, but I guess no one can decide on something more appropriate to describe the establishment. I ended up serving donuts, which were the dessert du jour, the last thing on the line before drinks. Previously, I had served drinks, and people could pick sweet tea or lemonade, but now, the only drink offered is water. The food is a set course, which changes as one dish runs out and has to be replaced by another. The only place on the line where people have a choice as to what they can pick is when they get to desserts. The desserts consisted of different varieties of donuts, including most of the ones you would expect. Some had chocolate, some had glaze, some had sprinkles and a few in the bunch had jelly filling.

Most of the patrons of the soup kitchen had very specific opinions about the donut they were getting. They pointed and gestured, and tried as best as they could to speak through the plexiglass partition to make their preferences known. Someone from the soup kitchen (one of the staff — not a volunteer) made a statement about not letting the guests have too much choice. Too much choice, I thought, these people barely have any choices. The least I could do was offer them some agency in what donut they would get!

All of this made me think again about Tyler Huckabee’s response to the song Rich Men North Of Richmond”. While I’m sorry to be bringing up the Oliver Anthony song again, I’m having a hard time getting past that line where he sings if you’re five foot three, and three hundred pounds, taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds.” Some of the people I served at the soup kitchen were overweight. Many were also underweight. Poverty does strange things to the body. As I handed people their choice of donuts, I couldn’t forget what Huckabee wrote.

Can I tell you about a guy I used to know in Chicago? We’ll call him Chuck. Chuck was a big fan of horror movies and pro wrestling. He didn’t have a lot of money — mental health issues made it tough — but he had a steady job. One time I went grocery shopping with Chuck and after he got a bunch of essentials like bread and eggs and such, he got five two liters of orange soda. Those two liters really cut into his food stamps budget. I asked Chuck about that, and you know what he said? Well, my mom loves orange soda and I like to have a nice treat for her when she’s done with work.”

Some people don’t have much in the way of delights in their lives. I feel blessed to admit that I’m not one of those people. I’m aware of their circumstances, though, and I feel like anything I can do to give them a treat is something I should do.


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