Subtitled: Mostly just a rant, and if you are going to complain and not commiserate, why not just save yourself the time and go look at cute animals on the internet?
So you’ve noticed that the temple often has food at its gatherings. Yummy, delicious comestibles which you feel are best piled high on a plate. Even better, everything is free! And did I mention free? Better go back for seconds. Or thirds. Plus there are lots of us exotic types to look at. We’re the ones serving.
I probably fool you with my warm and genuine smile and my mouthful of shiny white teeth. What you may not know is that I don’t really feel like welcoming everybody. I’m still hung up on that idea of sanctuary. So if I ever encourage you to stay, please remember that unless I do it three or four times after you demur I probably don’t really mean it. (Actually, only black folks have ever demurred. Most white folks get in line without any encouragement at all.*)
But you stayed. Okay, I can live with that. It’s not like you’re going to stick around. But here’s something I feel is of vital importance for you to know:
We do not have lemons.
We do not have cream.
We do not have milk.
In fact, we don’t have anything for you to add into your tea, which I have just graciously poured for you. If I did have any of those items, undoubtedly I’d be carrying them around with me. Just like the guy at that fancy restaurant I went to a long time ago. As far as I could tell, his sole job was to offer sugar and cream for coffee. I’d like that job sometime. Easy questions, simple answers. Yes. No.
That means we do not have sugar. Or sweet and low. Or splenda. Unless on some off chance one of the little old ladies swiped some tiny packets from a restaurant and brought them here in her purse. Which does happen sometimes. But since I’m also wiping up spills off the floor and picking up dirty plates and emptying the trash, I’m kind of disinclined to look. You might notice that I am disgustingly sweaty. It is because I am working hard.
So I’m sorry but I really don’t have any sugar. No, I really don’t! Please do not keep asking me as if repeated questions will (a) make me understand English or (b) make some sugar magically appear in the pocket of my sweaty, clammy dress pants. And for G-d’s sake (oops, wrong deity), please do not say at the top of your lungs HOW IS IT THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY SUGAR? when I tell you for the THIRD time No, I am sorry but we do not have any sugar.
I am pretty sure that the expression on my face was not all inscrutable and mysterious. The first time you asked, I smiled and said Sorry, no. Then you said You don’t have ANY sugar? and I gritted my teeth and answered again, a little bit of bite in my voice. By the time you asked the third time I am sure lightning bolts were coming out of my eyes and if there really were a G-d he would have smited you with a pixy stick.
Other items we do not have include, but are not limited to, the following: Straws, black tea, salt and pepper shakers, mineral water and orange juice. We do have a number of people who speak English fluently, including me. Go ahead! Speak English to me and see if you can stump me! Because I know the names of many common items in English. Including, but not limited to, the following: Straws, black tea, salt and pepper shakers, mineral water, orange juice and sugar.
I guess this rant could be more concisely summarized by simply saying Hey, we are not a restaurant. Go away. K thanks bye.
*I should note that homeless people and folks who look pretty down-and-out join us regularly for the food, and they are generally timid and polite and pleasant. And never ask for sugar.