Delivering meals (spaghetti with meatballs) on wheels. In Montreal.
“The Thick and Beautiful Surface” a story about our day at Santropol Roulant, “A meals on wheels program that uses food from a rooftop garden transferred by BIKES” by Ms. Lara Sheets
Just a scrape on the surface is how I can most simply describe our experience delivering meals from Santropol Roulant to the winding hills and upscale apartments of West McGill. Delivering meals is only one component of SR and I found it to be the most satisfying because of the direct result of intergenerational interaction that took place between myself and the elderly community of Montreal. My trip began with stacking original, specially made SR packs with an insulated shelving system for the meals and then following a list of clients and their particular food choices.
We took off on bikes, since the other WGCBT ladies began with me, and rode uphill until my first stop. Once on the 12th floor and after having knocked, I heard from a voice that encouraged me to enter. I walked in and an elderly fellow greeted me with a warm smile and offered for me to sit. After a long conversation about his day in the park, and about the fact that I biked from DC, I then had to decline his invitation to arm wrestle. I had to reluctantly get back on schedule to finish delivering eight other meals!
I went downstairs to debrief the other WGCBT ladies on how inspired I was from the first stop and that we could only look forward to the rest. My next stop began with another gentleman who was in the lobby waiting for my arrival. Since SR is mostly based on volunteers, then most of the meals on wheels clients receive a random group of people to deliver on a daily basis. I thought he might have been upset with me for being a little late, but instead he too, encouraged for me to sit next to him. His cane and frail pose emblematically dissipated with his charismatic French Canadian accent and vigor for life. He constantly spoke of my beauty, demanded that my hat be taken off, and held my hand for the majority of our conversation as we both inquired on each other’s lives and hobbies. I was most touched by the length of time to which he held my hand and how he felt most excited about my presence and smile. I discussed our project with him and he was also most confounded by the fact that we had biked from Montreal.
“This is why”, I argued, “I must not always dress so feminine!” as he pestered me for having dressed in such a way that might have disguised my physical appearance. I had to, again, grudgingly leave him and couldn’t help but feel sad that he likely returned back to an empty apartment. I really wish that I could have made him a permanent friend in my life. His insight, words, and inquiry provoked so much within my own consciousness that I think goes unnoticed without the help of a person that represents another generation and unique age in perspective.
The rest of my stops that stood out included a caretaker of an elder man who was from Sri Lanka in which she and I discussed religion and political warfare of her native country. She even invited me to stay with her family on the island! The man she took care of also mentioned how she had saved her life. I, too, felt honored to have met them both. My last outstanding visit was with a sardonic witty man who didn’t invite me inside of his place, but that conversed with me on my research interests, DC politics and the lack thereof, and meditation.
A meals on wheels program that uses food from a rooftop garden transferred by BIKES brought by someone like me, from DC, to encounter an increasingly physically incapable group of people with vivid minds is most DIRECT way of combating a monocultural-alien-NATION society. Like I said, simply my route of the day withstanding alone, could have my mind unwrapping the accumulated layers of experience that I had that day. Not to mention these people I served, the other volunteers, the other aspects of the organization, and all of their stories. Simply sharing this story with you could only….scrape the thick and beautiful surface.