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~Friday~  I left my house at around 8:30 this morning by car, taking a run down to the newly renovated Avent Ferry Technology Center, into which part of my work organization has recently moved. There, I collected two boxes and a few bags of things that people who work in that building had donated to our two 2009 Holiday Giving Projects, of which there are two: gifts for a family of 10 (mom and dad and eight kids), and Love Wins Ministry, which serves the homeless, and of which my friend Hugh is the Executive Director.

Back at my house I consolidated it all into three bags that I could carry on the bus, removing two heavy items—a box of 264 quart size plastic bags and a box of 100 30-gallon black trash bags—that I just left at home. Loading the bus with my hands full, I was both surprised and delighted to find a sign over the fare machine that said, "Free Today."

As I worked my way to a seat, a lady a little further back said, "Oh. Is all that for me?"

"Yes," I said joking, "Merry Christmas!"

I put the three bags in two seats of their own, and I sat in the seat in front of all of it. I called my officemate, Rhonda, and asked, "You up for a short walk?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Would you meet me at the bus stop in front of the credit union to help me carry a couple of bags? And please grab my sweat jacket from behind the door."

None of my regular characters were on the bus. However, a young hot white-boy daddy sat across from me and he had his little boy with him. It's rare to ever see men alone with children on the bus. It's almost always "the mamas." The little boy was sitting on the seat beside the daddy, had a bottle in his mouth, and a good stream of snot was streaming out of his nose and down to his lip.

I wondered what kind of daddy this young man was, and as if to show me, he turned to the little boy, turned the back of his hand to the little boy's nose, and used the sleeve of his jacket to wipe the boy's nose.

"Okay, that's pretty gross," I thought, but it didn't compare to what he did next. He rubbed the snot off his sleeve onto the bus seat. To his credit, though, after finishing and picking the little boy up on his lap, he did sit back into the snot either rubbing it into the seat or onto his own pants. I don't see which, and frankly my dear... it "matter snot."

Rhonda, along with my jacket, was near the stop when I arrived, and she helped me carry the stuff the block back to our office.



I spent most of my day while in the office today doing "community service work," which involved gathering all of the donations for both of our giving projects—routing the stuff we were collecting for the family we were sponsoring to my colleague Gail, and then sorting the stuff for Love Wins Ministry.

I did a quick count of things after I'd sorted it all, just to be able to "quantify" the generosity of the folks and report back to the organization on what we'd accomplished. After that I sent out an e-mail to everyone that said:

Subject: Our donations for Love Wins Ministry! Thanks so much!!!

Hello everyone,

I will be so proud to present Hugh Hollowell of Love Wins Ministry with the fruits of our love and labor over the past couple of weeks! Look what we're going to be giving him:  http://oit.ncsu.edu/employee-relations/love-won

Happy Holidays and thanks again to all who gave so generously.

Best regards,
John

I mulled over the fine line between patting ourselves on the back and letting everyone know how even giving "just a little" added up to a lot, as well as the notion of rewarding behavior you'd like to encourage.

After that, I sent a direct message on Twitter to @hughlh pointing him to that web page to see what we had collected for Love Wins. Shortly after that I received this e-mail:

We are overwhelmed. Seriously.

You guys rock!

-- Grace & Peace,

Hugh Hollowell Executive Director, Love Wins Ministries
http://lovewins.info



It started snowing huge flakes at a little after 1:00, and I caught the 1:30 city bus home just in case. I'm not quite sure at what point they stop city bus service, and it's not like they have a way to notify potential riders if they do. The bus was still free this afternoon, and I enjoyed watching people being told that it was as they reached for the fare machine with their money. One lady said, "That's a blessing!"

I noticed that in the area where they keep maps of all (well, several) of the bus routes, they had replaced them all with a pamphlet entitled, "How to Ride the Bus in the Ice and Snow." At the next stop, I got up and got one, immediately finding it less than helpful. A lot of the textual information was not information specific to changes for inclement weather, but simply general information about the bus, such as the cost.

And to top it all off, it was folded in such a way that when you opened it fully, there was a huge MAP FAIL on the inside. It had all of the "snow routes," for about 25 of the buses, overlaid on a map. The FAIL part of the map was the legend. Some of the routes had a different symbol for them, such as having a dotted or dashed line, but there were at least 7 or 8 of them whose symbol was an oval and presumably when printed in color were different colors. Problem was, these printings were in black and white and only so many shades of gray are discernible, especially when the routes all connect with, or run parallel, or cross over each other. Useless.



Hugh and I agreed to meet at Helios tomorrow at 11:00, so I could give him the hand warmers that we'd collected, since it's supposed to be so cold over the next couple of days. "I know several families who are staying in tents right now," he said.

To that end, I asked my boss who was still at work if she'd mind grabbing the hand warmers out of the collection and dropping them off at my house on her way home from work. She ended up bringing everything we'd collected, which was very nice of her.

I stayed in tonight and worked on my holiday cards and my annual letter that I send to some people. I tweeted a few tweets over the course of the evening:


That "tome" is not a typo for "time." I mean "tome"—as in the holiday tome I usually write each year. :-)

And just after it started snowing again:


And a little bit later:

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