Our business hours on Google are pretty close to “open 24/7” which gets me some interesting calls late at night. The calls don’t come often enough to make me remember to change the hours though.
I had one last night. It was almost 9 and according to the caller we were the only African restaurant that listed being open late. He was a truck driver and had just driven into town and was starving and all he wanted was some African food. I did a couple google searches for him and got him 2 numbers of the ones that were truly open until 10 and 11. When the conversation didn’t end with a thank you and good night, I thought hmmm…this is interesting. Here I was talking to a complete stranger at 9pm on my “work” phone as I call the business phone line. This hasn’t happened before. Most callers state their need; I do what I can and send them on their way.
We talked for a good half hour about “back home.” For him, “back home” was Malawi. We talked about his favorite African (mostly West) foods and how long he’d been in the U.S. He seemed to have a head on his shoulders and a well developed work ethic. He drove for the trucking industry because there was money to be made and sometimes it didn’t matter how much schooling one had if one couldn’t be employed, especially if the goal in life was to make money and get ahead. It was a worthwhile conversation to be sure. I smiled to myself because he was right, if I had stayed the path I had originally been on in academia, I wouldn’t be struggling. But then I thought, but it wasn’t always about the money. When he finally realized he’d been talking a long while, he said “so how about you; what’s your story?” I chickened out and said I had to go to bed. Partly true because I had laryngitis and had lost what little voice I had by that point.
Our paths would never have crossed if I sat in my Dean’s office chair at XYZ University because he wouldn’t be a student and he would also not fall into our “social justice community service requirements” demographic that some schools strongly suggest you have in order to be a well-rounded graduate.
After we hung up, I thought how fascinating this new path that I’ve chosen is. Here was a student of life who I’m sure had many life lessons to share but all he needed at that moment in time was for someone to acknowledge how tired and hungry he was and how sometimes missing home and ones favorite foods sucked. I am proud that I was able to do that for him.
I started this ministry of feeding people because of this. Because people are walking around just waiting for someone to talk to them and food always opens the way. We are from two separate parts of the continent however none of that mattered when we started talking about life in the West and missing home. At the very bottom of who we are is an essence; a soul that longs to have another soul acknowledge its existence. Sometimes food can do that. If food can do that, I am willing to give up my ascent to the Dean of Students’ chair to feed this soul and others.
Oye edziban a! Ma yen dzidzi!