Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Ministering Angel (Halo Slippage Alert... .)

I do try very hard to be the heart and soul of compassion when I do my impression  of Mercy personified on a Wednesday morning.  I let the side down today. It's Rodney. He's a underhand, rude, grasping, slimy, bastard and today when he told me to "Fuck off' because I wouldn't give him a second sausage roll, I saw red. Seeing red isn't in the Ministering Angel Handbook, and I see a trip to the confessional coming out of this. ( With a sense of relief, actually, at having achieved something I am going to feel able to confess to. I am seriously selective.)

He came back after a few minutes for a chocolate bar. Jamie pointed out a second sausage roll sticking out of Rodney's pocket. I repatriated it, and handed it to someone else.

We then had a verbal battle where I turned into a schoolmarm and let everyone know, shrilly,  that I am "Not inclined to give anything to ANYONE who tells me to fuck off!" Iowyn later gave him a Pot Noodle, but I reckoned that was OK, because he'd apologised, and besides, it wasn't her he'd sworn at. 

I think I'll stay away from the Vaughn Centre for a while.

Rodney's behaviour is untypical. The vast majority of men and women I meet are embarrassingly grateful. I wish I'd held my temper for their sakes, but I didn't. 

Working with Gloucester City Mission has it's lighter moments. That I was a little acerbic today, is a different kind of sharing, I admit, but the reason I do this work is to show solidarity with the poor, and when I let rip, I guess the favour is returned. We are all just muddling through.

Thankfully, our population is transient. Many of the recepients of the pies and chocolates eventually get it together and move on, some even   join the Mission Team, and make the best workers, because they are the best witnesses to how change  is possible. 

Sometimes we just have to laugh. I encourage the group to be politically active, though I NEVER (truly!) advise them how to vote, just to refrain from moaning to me about the Council or the Coalition if they didn't. Karla, a transgender woman had us all in stitches a couple of weeks ago.

"I voted National Front last time." she said. "Karla!" I laughed, "Do you KNOW what skinheads would do to you if they knew your history?" 

Karla was unmoved. "Well, " she said, "At least they'd do something about all the foreigners that come over here and ..." You can guess the rest.

The Town Team found a guy today who sleeps rough in the entrance to Debenhams. Tom advised him to sleep round the back where he was less likely to be disturbed.

"Oh no!" the guy replied, "You can't pick up the WIFI  round there!"

You live and learn.

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