shouting at me about how I took away the trailer, how we weren’t usingit and she wasn’t hurting anyone. But she doesn’t. She continues walkingwest, toward the river. I turn the opposite way and drive home.
Later that evening, I try to push her from my mind, to focus on making dinner, on chatting with my husband about his day, but I can’t.
“It’s a bad situation all around,” he tells me. “There was nothing else
you could do.”
I nod. There was nothing I could do. If I repeat it enough, then maybe
I’ll start to believe it.
I’ve lived here most of my life, but it’s only when my father and I begandelivering for Meals on Wheels that I witnessed areas of town I’d neverbefore seen up close. People holed up in shabby Section 8 apartmentbuildings, in one-room shacks on dead-end streets, in broken-down RVsby the river. Recently, while on our final stop at the Ho-Hum, a rundown motel out by the bus station, the woman in Room 17 told me thiswould be her last meal. She was moving. Her legs were thinner thanmost people’s arms, and deep lines creased her face. When I asked forher new address so we could still deliver food to her, she pointed to a tentbehind the door and said, “the corner of 16th and 24th”—the same areaof town where the woman in the trailer headed with her black suitcases,a vacant lot near the Sunset Addition, behind a car dealership and drycleaner, two blocks from our property. Her social security had been cutby three hundred dollars a month and she could no longer afford rent.She was also losing her nursing services because they don’t visit peoplewho live in tents. Meals on Wheels doesn’t deliver to the homeless either.
“But what will you eat?” I asked, naively.
“I don’t know,” she said.
My face must have given away my distress.
“Don’t worry.” She smiled. “I’ll make do.”
When I returned to the car, I called the Meals on Wheels coordinator
to let her know about the woman. “Isn’t there something you can do?” I
asked. “Some sort of info—”
“Unfortunately, no,” the coordinator interrupted, “We don’t provide
“Just listen,” I snapped at her. “Don’t you have information about
other options or services? I don’t think she knows where to seek help,
and I don’t know what to tell her.”
Later, I regretted my curtness with the coordinator—it wasn’t her
fault the woman in Room 17 no longer had a place to live. As it is, the