Saturday, November 12, 2005

How do I love my colleagues?

It's not that I adore all of my colleagues, but by and large, I like and respect my department members.

The other day, one of my colleagues emailed me to ask if I wanted to help the department group at the local "soup kitchen" last night. There's a rotating group of several couples (the common denominator is that there's a department member in each couple) who volunteer to buy food and make and serve dinner for the kitchen, as part of a program the kitchen has going in our community. I am regularly invited to help, but not quite a regular in the group (life is complicated, and this is a fine solution for all, I think).

Yeah, it's a little thing, a tiny act in other peoples' struggles against hunger, but they do it regularly, as do other groups from NorthWoods U. I doubt most people in the community have any idea how much staff and faculty here at NWU quietly contribute. (One of the things our Boss Administrator would like to do is increase public awareness of how NWU contributes to the community. But how to do this well?)

Our students also regularly contribute through classes and groups to the same kitchen. (Our students contribute hugely to the local communities.)

So yesterday afternoon, we gathered, one brought food, we cooked, we served, we cleaned up, and we had a good time.

What did I learn? Well, it would be no surprise to anyone who knows me that Bardiac is even more inept in an institutional kitchen than at home. I relearn this every time we do dinner there. But I haven't cut off any fingers or anything yet. And I heard one of the diners complimenting the kitchen director guy about how great the dinner was. I also actually learned some tricks that might someday be useful in my tiny world, or at least, in a couple months when we go cook again.

The weird thing of the night? We serve cafeteria style, prepping their plate for diners according to their desires. Last night, one of the diners stopped in the middle of the line to chat on a cell phone. (It's a commonplace these days to hear complaints about people holding up lines in the store to talk on a cell phone rather than answer a checkout person's questions or pay. But in the kitchen, it seemed all the more weird.)

We have too many hungry people in My New Hometown.

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