A New Friend

I chatted with a very interesting evacuee today while he waited for the doctor to come back from lunch. Mr. E is originally from New Orleans, but has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a few other places. He was, at one point, a Catholic seminarian, but decided that path wasn't for him. He's worked in a printing plant, an engineering firm and for the city of L.A. Now he's back in New Orleans after experiencing some medical issues. Until the past few years, he was a volunteer with Traveler's Aid and was meeting people from all over the world. Apparently he still corresponds with several of them from around the world. We chatted about current events and politics, observations about our society, the joys and difficulties of traveling, and the educational system.

He thanked me very much for sitting and chatting with him. I told him it was my pleasure and that I really enjoyed it. Remembering that he said he enjoyed corresponding with people, I asked if I might have his address so I could write to him. He was quite pleased to provide it to me. Yay! Yes, I'm excited to have a "pen pal".

Moving On
Rumor has it the evacuees will be headed back toward home within the next 48 hours. I've really enjoyed working with the folks at Lavinia--both my coworkers and the evacuees. 98% of the evacuees are marvelous folks who are very kind and helpful to each other. The other two percent are upset and don't know how to vent their upset/frustration/anger other than to snarl at each other. There were two fights today that had to be broken up and at least one of them resulted in arrests. I guess tempers have just worn thin after three days in a strange place with 500 other people. I can understand that.

It was interesting to look at the different dorm buildings and see how some of them were very neat and tidy--all the beds neatly made and personal belongings stored in the lockers, bathroom cleaned and mopped. Other dorms had unmade beds with belongings strewn about. One lady was serving as the "dorm mom" in a building where several elderly folks needed help. She was probably in her 60s-70s herself, but had recently obtained her nursing assistant's license and was bound and determined to help those around her. She even organized several other ladies and their husbands to assist with those she couldn't help with herself. I told her she was an angel. She smiled, beamed and said she always tried to do her best and that she believed that if you did good that good would come back to you. I told her I thought she was right.

There's a lesson to be learned here. Many of these folks lost everything during the flooding from Katrina. Many of these folks were evacuated then and again now. Some of them have been at "my" shelter twice now. The overarching attitude is a positive one, full of hope and belief that everything will work out just fine. Several stated that they just didn't believe in being negative and they didn't believe in not helping their fellow humans when need arose. It gives you a boost to work with and talk with them. I'm very glad I had a chance to meet them. I hope to have some more good chats tomorrow. It certainly helps buoy the spirits during a long day and reminds you to stay positive yourself.


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