This evening, volunteering, as I approached to dropped off my load of groceries, probably a few hundred dollars’ worth, a couple people asked, “Are you Josh?”
I hadn’t seen them before. They asked as if someone had told them about me, that I delivered a large load of great food at certain times, which I do. So I seem to have developed a reputation for consistency in time and volume. I guess it’s coincidence that they shared knowing who I was a couple days after I posted My volunteering amounts to donating about $50,000 per year of food.
When I picked up the groceries, the store workers greeted me friendly, one guy saying “I must have known you were coming because I just unlocked the door.”
The stores are designed for delivery, not in-person shopping, so they’re defensive about people entering, but not with me. We tell stories and break the other’s routine. Sometimes we talk about deep things. We’ve talked about sustainability and I ask how my views about its connection with slavery and race sound. Once I shared how my company was valued at thirty million dollars, which surprised him, as in “then why are you delivering groceries to a community center?”, though it remained unvoiced, so I didn’t explain.
Back at the community center, as I unloaded the groceries into the cupboard and fridge, more people who knew me arrived. Another person I hadn’t met asked, “Are you Josh?” This later one was another volunteer who knew me from posting to the volunteers’ message board.
It felt rewarding to feel recognized. The people who asked me if I was me when I arrived kept thanking me and wishing me happy holidays. There were some quality groceries this time, including some gourmet cheeses and a few packages of a dozen eggs (quality in the value of non-vegans, that is) and I think I heard in her voice tears welling up.
I’ve heard the studies show volunteering promotes endorphins, but you don’t need studies. Anyone can tell volunteering makes you feel good. I get thanked picking up the groceries from employees who don’t like seeing it thrown away. I get thanked on the receiving end. I don’t spend a penny. I just carry the groceries from one place to another. I looked it up on the map: about three kilometers. It’s getting cold, and when I delivered Tuesday it was pouring rain.
Meanwhile, when I tell people in my social class I’m writing about race, half the time they say I can’t have experienced it, that I’ll sound like I’m mansplaining. Someone told me that today, a black woman. I asked, “wouldn’t it be whitesplaining?” She said, “white mansplaining.”
I wonder what it’s like to be the ignorant, racist fool so many people think I am. I probably sound like I have a chip on my shoulder, because I do, because their behavior tells me they think I sit around drinking gin and tonics, plotting invasions, and getting free money and power for being straight, white, and male. **sigh** I thought we were past there.
This picture from the volunteer group’s social media feed isn’t the load I dropped off, but it looks like one of my deliveries:
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