The author was in their shoes not too long ago.
Whether rain, snow, sunshine or traffic, or even irritated nearby business owners voicing their opinions about it, the people waiting for the 4 p.m. call to Weeknight Supper at the Catholic Charities in downtown Chicago are not budging one bit until it is time to line up in front of the gate.
It was a very cold December Wednesday evening when, around 3:57 p.m., nearly 100 people or more were making their steps count, inch by inch, toward the area of the line-up spot. Some men were preparing to make a mad dash to the front, while some women were dropping their cigarette butts and some were adjusting their grips on their bags, filled with food or belongings from either the shelters where they stayed or from food pantries they left hours ago. The cold is like spikes attacking bits and pieces of the skin underneath clothing that is not covering everywhere on the body, but some are numb to the cold due to their immunity from years of residency.
Once the time reached 4 p.m., every person played "Race to the Gate" so they could be not just the first ones in line, but the ones to stand in the line going inside first. Usually, as they were always informed, there are about 130-150 seats available for dinner. Each dinner "guest" receives a plastic armband for entry. If they run out of armbands, the remaining people outside must settle for a "bag lunch", which might consist of a candy or granola bar, a child-sized juice drink and/or some other heart-degrading snack to hold them over for the night, in some folks' cases.
How many times has the author been on this line. She can definitely specify that she has run with 1 or 2 roller bags and a backpack, in the deep snow, ice or mushy sleet, about 4 weeks in a row. Her amount of days doing so would NEVER amount to the many months or years that her fellow underserved members of citizenry have done this.
Some might say that dignity is not worth an unlimited amount of hot coffee, ice water, lemonade/ice tea combos, and a plate of food with opportunities for seconds... the author has heard her stomach growl many a day with no funds on her Link card while riding CTA's Red, Blue, and Orange lines and buses, so she humbly yet boldly begs to differ.
No one either knows or cares that the security officers laugh at them when they make a marathon sprint to the gate entrance. It's a heart-breaking sight to see, because people are reduced to less than dignity. How we are quick to judge other countries for the mistreatment of their citizens, one can never know. This much is true here: if this is not readily believed, you are hereby dared to investigate this yourself, any given weekday, Monday through Friday, between 3:50 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the corner of 700 blk of N La Salle St. in downtown Chicago...yes, by the Gold Coast locale.
You are also hereby charged to stand on line, in your most humbling clothing, and wait for the run to the "finish line". Hope you are able to eat...hope even more that you are able to SEE how God's babies, your fellow human siblings, are being treated.
May the Creator fill your soul as He fills their bellies.