Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cheesecake Anyone?

Frances Amodeo
Understanding Literature
Dr. Ellis
Cheesecake Anyone?
One beautiful Sunday morning in April at about seven thirty, AM, twenty of my fellow floor mates from Butler and I slowly assembled in the Jenkins parking lot.  We hopped into our motor pool vans and headed to 402 South Bond Street.  When I had previously heard of people’s experiences at Beans and Bread, I almost didn’t believe the stories because their experiences seemed almost unreal. But when I stepped foot into the building and was greeted by Mai, a senior at the time, I knew exactly the emotions they all had been talking about, and I knew my life would be different after that day.
So I wasted no time, and within minutes I was suited up.  And by suited up I mean gloves on, apron tied and baseball cap fastened.  I was ready and raring to go.  For my first shit, I was assigned to the counter. A couple of friends and I were in charge of making sure the sausage was always hot and that there was always enough chili in the pot.  From the counter I could see the smiles on the people’s faces as they received their food, and it warmed my heart like none other. I wanted so badly to get the chance to interact with them, and the next thing you know, I was assigned waitress for the next shift.  As waitress, I went around read the menu for the day, brought plates of food around, refilled drinks, etc. 
Throughout the day I met some pretty incredible people.  Al, a Vietnam War veteran and Deborah, a single mother of five were just a couple who really stood out in my mind.  The fact that despite everything these people had been through to bring them to this place, they could not have been kinder, friendlier or more polite.  After people had finished their meal I would go around and ask if anyone wanted a chocolate chip cookie, a slice of apple pie, and the crowd favorite…CHEESECAKE! Giving them a slice of cheesecake was the smallest of gestures, yet to them it meant the world and for me I was so very humbled. I went into Beans and Bread thinking that I was going to make a small difference in someone’s day or bring a smile to someone’s face, and that may be true, but the smiles these wonderful people put on my face and the amount of love they put in my heart is something I wouldn’t give up for the world.
William Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper were all excellent works that tie in perfectly with my service experience.  In I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, the speaker mentions that while wandering like a cloud he came across a field of daffodils beside a lake. The speaker mentions that a poet could not be anything but happy in such joyful company, and that he didn’t realize how much wealth the scene of daffodils would bring him.  This resonated with me so greatly because while at Beans and Bread, I felt the same exact way.  While there I felt so exuberant and their presence just made me feel so blessed.  While reading Hawthorne’s The Birthmark, we see Aylmer, the husband who can no longer see his wife, Georgina’s beauty because the birthmark on her face is too overwhelming. It makes us see that everyone looks and sees beauty differently.  The same is true in Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.  The author expresses this hidden beauty of the wallpaper.   At first many are turned off by the wallpaper, finding it very unappealing but later grow to love it.  It seems as though the fascination that the wallpaper brings, leads to its beauty. The people who come to Beans and Bread are often see as “ugly” and frowned upon in society, but it is always important to realize that there are those of us who love service and care about those we are helping and see behind their appearance and take the time to try and get to know them.  And very often those who at first do not understand are very moved by these people and their stories.  

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