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Wheeled Meals This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     MaryByrnes and I walked toward the meal hall where I would fulfill three hours of mycommunity service obligation.

No, I'm not some convict who has to docommunity service to repay my debt to society. It is a school mandate, however,and looks great on college applications (or so I'm told). Anyway, Mary, a womanfrom my church who heard about my need for service hours, was kind enough to haveme help her with her weekly "Meals on Wheels" runs. I jumped at theoffer, knowing I needed to do service, and might even enjoy it.

Enjoycommunity service? Yes, you read that right, but to truly understand, you need toknow a little about Mary. She is a retired woman, and probably one of the nicestpeople you could ever meet. She always has a joke or story to tell, and she andher husband spend every summer traveling the United States.

Mary and Iwalked into the huge meal hall and over to a table with two coolers on it.

"The big cooler holds the warm meals, so be careful not to touch theheat pack inside. The smaller cooler holds the drinks," the woman behind thetable explained. "You have six deliveries today," she said, shoving theclipboard toward us with the names and addresses of the recipients. "Havefun!"

She dismissed us with a nod, and Mary and I turned and walkedout, with me lugging both coolers. Fifteen minutes into the project, and I wasdoing work meant for pack mules. We hopped into Mary's small car and drove to thefirst stop on the list. A kind old lady came to the door and was shocked to seeme carrying the food instead of Mary. I handed her the meal and said with a grin,"It's chicken with string beans. Have a good day."

She was sohappy I had done this that she offered me candy and told me how nice it was tosee a young person involved in the community. I told her I really needed to getto the next person and hoped that she would enjoy her meal.

The next fourstops were similar; at one I even had to pretend to be a Mets fan to please anold man who could not believe they had not won the World Series, saying theYankees were a bunch of bums who didn't know what real baseball was. I think Imade his day when I said the Mets were a great team, and were definitely due fora World Series title next year.

Our last stop was a little differentbecause when we drove up to the house and knocked on Mr. Moraine's door, hedidn't answer. Mary and I waited a few minutes, hoping that he would come soon sothat we could finish the day. After 15 minutes, Mary called his house on her cellphone, explaining, "Sometimes he doesn't hear the doorbell, but he shouldhear the phone." When she hung up after not getting an answer, she lookedpale, and I asked what was wrong. She looked very worried and I was afraidsomething had happened. When we got to the office, we found that Mr. Moraine hadcalled to say that he was going to be late, and could he please get his meal withthe afternoon service. Mary and I had completed our duties. As we walked out thedoor, Mary gave me a wink and said, "It's all for the best, he can be quitea grouch."

It has been eight months now since I first went on a Mealson Wheels run, and I have done it several more times. Even though I go to newpatrons each time, Mary tells me they still ask about that handsome boy whobrightened their day.

Meals on Wheels is one of the best experiences Ihave ever had. The smile you put on the faces of people who truly count on youeasily outweighs any monetary compensation. I would not trade those Meals onWheels runs for anything.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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