I’ve delivered Meals on Wheels for more than 15 years. I deliver around lunchtime on Friday and it takes about 2 ½ hours from the time I leave my office until I return.
As you probably know, Meals on Wheels is a volunteer program that delivers warm, nutritious meals to the (mostly elderly) homebound.
I had an experience recently which reminded me why I volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Let me tell you about it . . .
I rang the doorbell at Ms. B’s townhouse. Because I had been delivering to her for several months, I knew that she is virtually blind and that, therefore, it takes her a while to get to the door.
So I waited patiently. (Since I’m not known for my patience, developing it is a bonus benefit of this volunteer work.)
When Ms. B didn’t come to the door, I rang the door bell again – and knocked loudly too.
Still no answer.
I have Ms. B’s phone number on an index card that I carry in my car when I’m delivering, so I called her. No answer.
I had a dozen other people waiting for hot meals, so I had to move on. And I couldn’t leave Ms. B’s meal unattended outside her house. It looked like Ms. B wasn’t going to get her meal.
But I had a hunch she was home, so I decided to make one more try. My index card had the phone number of one of her neighbors. Sitting in my car, I started to dial the neighbor’s number.
As I was dialing, Ms. B finally appeared at the door. I yelled to her and ran back to her house. She invited me in.
In the months that I had been delivering to Ms. B, she had been polite when I was at her house, but virtually expressionless. She wasn’t talkative and didn’t reveal much about herself.
This time was different.
She had a big, bright smile that’s now embedded in my memory. She told me that she had not come to the door sooner because she was a little disoriented and had not been able to find her way to the front door.
When she finally did locate the front door, she was so proud of herself.
She thanked me profusely for not leaving and told me how glad she was that she didn’t have to go without lunch.
Her smile was all the thanks I needed.