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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Body Language (11/25/10)

TITLE: People on the Other Side of the Ladle
By Dana McReynolds


I wasn’t expectin’ much when I walked in the door, maybe a peanut butter sandwich if I was lucky or a hot bowl of chili if I was luckier. After nine years on the street, I’ve made the rounds. I’ve been to soup kitchens that served sandwiches and bread lines that served soup. No matter what they call ‘em, they’re all the same to me, even down to the people on the other side of the ladle.

Long days with nothin’ to do give a man two choices, to tune out the world or try to learn somethin’ from it. Me, I’m a people watcher. I figure if I can’t watch tv, then I got the next best thing, maybe even better. Sit me on a bus and I can just about tell you where a person’s goin’ and I can for sure tell you if they’re enoyin’ the ride.

I’ve ate fish with the Catholics and chicken with the Baptists. It don’t matter what they put on the plate, they all got one thing in common, they really don’t want to be there. Oh, I’m sure most have good intentions, but that don’t mean they’re comfortable. Most times, they’ll glance up and give a nervous smile, then act all busy with the food. I guess rearrangin’ some sandwiches and stirrin’ some chili is a good distraction from a homeless man.

Tonight was a different story. I sat down with my plate and a man asked if he could join me. I was leary at first, he was from the church and I was expectin’ a sermon. But I couldn’t say no, I was eatin’ their food after all. Turned out I was in for a surprise. We ate our food and talked and I believe he was really listenin’. He couldn’t a been more at ease if he’d been at his own dinner table. And the funny thing is I think it rubbed off on me. For a minute I felt like a teenager again, kicked back at the diner with my buddies.

I left that church with more than a full belly. It felt good, real good.

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This article has been read 397 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Virgil Youngblood 12/02/10
Excellent writing, concise, with a powerful message.
Lillian Rhoades 12/03/10
Sometimes a few words is all that's needed, and this is one of those "sometimes." This so touched my heart. As I read it I was reminded of a former Pastor who does this very thing... A real, breathing example of Christianity in action. Your characterization of the MC was excellent. Great job!
Gregory Kane12/04/10
Great characterisation. Really got into your man's head.
A number of years ago I headed up a church based soup kitchen in the Manchester area. Once my wife and I spent a night on the streets in the company of a homeless man we were working with. It was a fantastic insight to be on the other side of the food line, something that your story captures very well indeed.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/05/10
I really enjoyed the dialog of your MC. The way he talked seemed so real and I could feel his discomfort then his relief. Great job!
Noel Mitaxa 12/05/10
This is so well-earthed and potent in its insights on your MC and on his own observations - all echoing my recent ministry and previous years of placing and counselling of long-term unemployed people. Brilliant depiction.
Cheryl Harrison12/06/10
I like your title a lot. Great message. Thanks for writing.
Karen Pourbabaee 12/06/10
Wish your story could be put in the hands of all those people on the other side of the ladle...I think some eyes and hearts would be opened.Great characterization of the MC.
Strong message.
Lollie Hofer12/06/10
I liked your mc's voice and characterization. You said so much in just a few words.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/09/10
Congratulations for placing 11th in your level!