When I was sixteen, I was a Junior in high school, on my own, and working. I struggled with paying bills, and that included my meals. Thankfully, the school supplied both breakfast and lunch to me at no cost, so even though I was underweight and hungry, I got to eat.
The real problem started after graduation.
Still on my own, with nobody helping me, I got a job at a fast food joint. Minimum back then was $5.15 an hour, and let me tell you– no GoFund me in 2001. No Facebook, or Twitter, or YouTube that I could reach out or try to make money. It was a very disconnected time, especially for me– who couldn’t afford anything other than a landline. Well, it was my neighbor’s landline, but they let me use it.
I was 5’9″, 110 lbs, and in danger of losing still more weight because I often had to choose between gas or meals (no car, no job… conundrum). Between sanitary products or meals. Between car insurance or meals.
My weight earned me the ire of other women, who were “so jealous!” of my weight because I looked “so good!” and they bet I could “eat anything and not gain weight!”
I could have spoken up. I could have said: I don’t have anything to eat. But my situation filled me with shame, so I hid it.
One of the managers at the fast food place really didn’t like me, and she would force me to clock out for my breaks– but keep working. I didn’t know that was illegal at the time. I was naive, I had no adults I could tell, and so I dutifully clocked out, kept working, and would often do 8-hour shifts with no food.
The times I did eat, coworkers would jeer “Wooow, she eats!” as I tried to eat my meals carefully on an empty stomach. I didn’t want to be sick and throw up. Also, it’s weird to me how it’s still acceptable to jeer at thin people, act like they’re “lucky,” and comment on their body… Anyway.
One person saw me and knew something was wrong– the general manager of the restaurant. He took one look at me, saw my low weight, saw the way I ate, saw the way I coveted the food I was bagging, and he pulled me aside one day. He said, “You can have anything you want to eat, for free, as long as you make it yourself.”
Oh, my God. I was elated!! Even though I would work right through my break, I could clock out at the end of the day, make a little bag of fast food, and go home… and eat! I tried not to take too much, just in case he changed his mind, but he never did. And that may very well have saved me from health problems. It certainly helped me to not be hungry all the time.
It only took one person to look past any assumptions and see me, and notice my real situation. This man wasn’t “so jealous” of my body, he saw that I was starving and helped.
I will be forever grateful to him. He was actually a very nice man, who took his job seriously and often brought in his wife and kids to have a meal. They were all good people 🙂 I remember playing Pokemon cards with his little boy, and I said “Go fish” and the kid roared with laughter 🤣 “That’s not how you play!” He thought it was the funniest thing 😄
That was in my teenage years and, thanks to God, I am doing well now. I thank God for good people. I thank God for all of my meals. I pray that if I see someone in need, I will see it, not look past it, and be able to help ❤️
안녕! Bye! Ciao!