Lunch with Friends This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.


     "Will you be here onThursday?" Allison asks without fail every time the music stops. "Ofcourse," I always reply. There's nowhere else I'd rather be. I beganvolunteering with mentally disabled people when I was a freshman and Tuesdays andThursdays became my favorite days of the week.

On any Tuesday afternoon,I can be found swaying to the music with my special friend, Allison. Thursday isceramics day. While our creations are quite simple, my friends take great pridein them. Allison always shows off her project, shouting, "Look what Imade!" This joy in simple pleasures has taught me many lessons.

Yvette, assistant director of the volunteer program, noticed myenthusiasm and comfort working with the mentally disabled and invited me toaccompany them on weekend outings.

My first trip was taking a group ofsenior citizens to lunch. As we drove to the pizza place, I talked with Yvetteabout school, and tentatively checked out my fellow passengers. Fran and Richardwere both sporting sizeable "gold" chains, purchased on a recentexpedition to K-Mart. When I asked Fran about his purchase, he proudly informedme that it was "genuine gold," and that he had "bought ithimself." Although he is nonverbal, Richard was still able to express hisexuberance through hand gestures and a big, toothless smile. Also with us wereGertrude and Jean, identical twins who dress alike and speak only to each other.They were wearing blue pants and pink argyle cardigans. They sat in the back ofthe van, quietly talking about their jobs cleaning cafeteria tables at a localbusiness.

When we arrived at the restaurant, Yvette and I ushered everyoneto a booth. Fran shouted, "Italian sub with no tomatoes and extrapickles!" I read the lunch menu to Richard twice, and he smiled and noddedenthusiastically at every option. Eventually, Yvette and I decided spaghettiwould be a good choice for our toothless friend. After Jean and Gertrude staredthrough their identical plastic-framed glasses for a while, they both finallydecided on chicken parmigiana. On her third trip to our table, the very patientwaitress was able to take our orders. Jean and Gertrude talked to each other, butspoke too softly for anyone else to hear. Fran, however, had no problem lettinghis voice be heard. "My chain is gold, you know! Genuine gold! I bought itall by myself! It wasn't cheap, but it's real gold!" Richard smiled proudlyand fingered his chain as Fran talked. "Yep, Richard got one, too. We gotthem at the K-Mart, you know. That K-Mart's a nice store!"

Whenthe meals finally arrived, Yvette and I helped our friends prepare their food,and watched them eat happily. Richard could hardly contain his delight as heslurped his spaghetti. Even Fran, who's quite a food critic, liked his lunch,commenting that there were "just enough pickles."

Althoughsilent, I could tell Jean and Gertrude were enjoying themselves as well. Aftereveryone finished, we drove home. I was very pleased with the afternoon. A merelunch outing had made four people's day a lot brighter. I realized I takeseemingly simple things for granted, and need to learn to find more joy in life'sdaily pleasures.

When we reached Richard and Fran's group home driveway,I jumped out to help them exit the van. Richard hugged me and went inside. Franstarted to walk away but turned and asked, "Will you take me out to lunchagain?"

"Of course, Fran," I said with a smile. There'snowhere else I'd rather be.




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

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the December 2000 Teen Ink Community Service Contest.






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Arpan7 said...
Oct. 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm
Bro, loved it! Keep-up the talent!
 
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