Thursday, May 28, 2009


Say a prayer for Alva and her friends

Me, to a guy at the counter at Subway, waiting for the meatballs to be heated: "The meatballs are always frozen here. They always have to heat them up. I don't know why. It's supper time. They should be ready. There you go, for the next time."

Guy: "Thanks. Thanks for the warning."

Young woman behind the counter, with eyes narrowed, asks me: "What kind of sandwich can I get you?"

Me: "Have you got jalapeno cheese bread? A footlong jalapeno cheese, roast beef, pepper jack, toasted."

YW, eyes mere slits, gets it going, and asks: "Did you want that toasted? Wait. You said that didn't you?"

Me, smiling overlargely, being extra friendly because I realize, a miracle, that I've been unnecessarily gruff: "Wake up now!"

YW: "Oh, I'm awake. My brain is just dazed."

Me: "I'm sorry."

YW: "I've had a rough day. Started out rough."

Me: "I'm sorry. Sorry to hear that."

YW: "I watched my girl friend get shot and another girl bleed to death in the other room. I didn't want to come to work today. Had to come to work."

Silence, as she fixes my sandwich.

YW: "What vegetables would you like on your sandwich?"

Me: "Everything but spinach and, I see no carrots, so everything but spinach."

She's putting it together.

Me: "What's your name?"

YW: "(Al-something.)

Me: "Alvin?"

YW: "Alva."

A few pregnant seconds pass.

Me: "Alva, I'll say a prayer for you."

Alva, face AWAKE, eyes wide, lookin' AT me and TO me: "Thanks."

Me: "It's all I've got. I pray for you. And your friends."

Alva: "Thank you."

She rings up my sandwich, I pay and leave.

Snapshot. Join me in praying for Alva and her friends.


I was more stunned by this than this lets on, and my mind raced in a million directions, but this is pretty much what transpired.
You know she desperately needed to tell someone what happened to her. She's very fortunate to have told you - she was offered prayer rather than judgment. That may bring her quite a bit of comfort.
Careful with that "empathy" stuff.
You're a good man.

But the thing I find most horrendous is this statement:
"Had to come to work."
My mind, from my cushy digs, does a self-satisfying disservice to Alva and metaphorizes her experience into our national one.

We have been living in various morgues of our own making for seven years. And we are just beginning to put the sign up.
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