Rude Awakening | Teen Ink

Rude Awakening

January 20, 2010
By jessica lopez BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
jessica lopez BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

On my way home after an exhausting day I sat in the passenger side of the car, contemplating as I looked out the window. Fortunately, I have a warm home awaiting me, unlike the hundreds of homeless people who roam the streets aimlessly. The few I was able to help that day at the shelter, Andre House. The steady rhythm of the car on the freeway allowed for such pondering to take place, such logic I came across that day. I realized there was so much more depth to our lives. The simple things we take advantage of that the homeless desire. Their only priority for the day is finding something to eat, to move along and hopefully someday rise to their feet.
My assignment was to stand in front of the line and to pass out napkins and forks, a simple task I thought would be effortless. Yet I can’t explain exactly what I felt as I stood in the hallway passing out napkins and putting on a smile, it was difficult for me to try to conceal my true facial expressions but I did my best to mask them. I distributed the eating utensils to men; women and even children who wore faded and ripped clothing, and who clung on to their few belongings with an unbreakable grip. What we dispose of so easily they pick up and put to good use. My selfishness consumed me and I felt upset and at some moments even felt nostalgia for my family, because I saw blood bounded siblings come through, and I couldn’t help replacing their faces with my families and mine. My eyes didn’t meet directly with all those who passed, many heads hung low, and when I noticed this my heart was devoured by compassion, because that once proud person is probably ashamed of where they are now. Somehow they’ve mustered up the courage and acted out of necessity to come forth and ask for food. My intentions were to contribute, never to pass judgment, yet it was as if I was being judged, I felt that many of the homeless saw right through me, like I was transparent. They couldn’t draw that connection because at the end of the night I would go home; sleep in a warm bed, shower, and wake the next morning to suppress my hunger. While their options for that night were scarce; sleep at the shelter or possibly the pavement. I couldn’t blame them, because maybe they’ve seen multiple faces volunteering at the shelter that like the wind come and go but still there they remain.
So there I am, standing up, leaning against the cart passing out napkins with forks and knives. I couldn’t help but notice what it was the hungry were receiving to eat, cold tortillas. My heart only grew weaker and the yearning to escape this place grew stronger because if there’s one thing that’s never missing at my house it’s a batch of warm tortillas. I wanted to flee and go home, I wanted to embrace my mother and thank her for everything she has ever done or sacrificed for me, I wanted to encourage my little brother to strive and reach for the impossible in school so I would never have to witness him endure such tragedy. I wanted that for everyone who stood before me in that split second as all these thoughts were racing in my mind and all these emotions rushing through my veins. I wished there was more to give. As the amount of people coming through began to dwindle a sense of relief filled me because I couldn’t help but think of all the empty stomachs we had fed that night. I went home with a new state of mind and a renewed humble heart.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.