Thursday, April 04, 2013

Doing Schtick With The Downtrodden

One of the best things about working at the Catholic Charities Food Resource Center (FRC) this week was the getting the chance to perform for the customers.

The folks coming to see you at the FRC are beaten down. Some live on the street, some have no food at all at home, some are escaping abuse and some are clearly liars and weasels who have made a life of teeny-weeny bits of graft and theft*. After I got the hang of the computer and the Excel spreadsheet we used to track clients, customer intake became pretty boring, so it was a chance to make them feel good about themselves. They'd shuffle in, dejected, either determined not to miss their spot in line or hoping for a chance to get a walk-in appointment and score some food. A bright smile, a bit of mock surprise and some patter cheered them right up.

"I didn't sign in, can I still get some food?"

"Of course! We held the place open hoping you'd show up! To tell you the truth, we've all been waiting for you to come in!" and on and on like that. They'd smile and relax and from then on, the conversation was warm and pleasant. I had a great time. I think I got more out of the job than they did.

Henny Youngman. Now that's some good schtick.

* - It was pretty easy to detect cheating, but I let it go. Who cares? Honey, you're cheating me out of some canned goods. I think we can deal with this.

1 comment:

tim eisele said...

I appreciate your attitude towards people who might be cheating. It sometimes seems like the precautions people take against cheats and thieves end up costing way more than what the cheats and thieves cost. And they also tend to lead to treating the basically honest majority like *they* are the suspected criminals. Which leads to the people who really need the help, and could benefit from it, being the ones that stay away.

(and the cheats and thieves don't care what you think of them. They're used to it.)