Waiting at the Food Bank

August stood on the sidewalk, looking down at his phone. He kept glancing up across the street, just to check on things.

The line-up at the food bank was long – longer than he’d like. He didn’t want to cross and stand there. Didn’t want to be seen in that line-up.

Everything had been going so well, until he was let go. It was sudden, no warning, and only three days after a joke – one single joke – about unionizing. Management handed him a sheet that outlined all his work infractions: five minutes late one day, three minutes another, unscheduled time off work – he remembered that funeral. but didn’t argue. They sent him home after security escorted him to his desk to collect his things.

Now he waited for the line-up at the food bank to die down. He knew it meant he would be left with little. The dregs, really, of the food stuff, but as long as it kept body and soul together for another couple of days, he was fine with that. Chicken and canned peas was still a meal.

The end of the line moved closer to the door, other people walking out with bags, crossing the road to take the bus home. August stood with them, looking down at his phone. A middle-aged woman, wrinkled and slightly overweight, carrying two bags, smiled at him like she understood. As though she remembered her own time doing the same thing.

The bus came, picked up those waiting. August held back with a smile. The bus driver looked at him, checking to make sure, judging him for going to the food bank. August smiled and waved away, looked around as if expecting a friend any moment. The driver shrugged, closed the door, with harsh judgment, and drove away.

Across the street, the lineup had moved inside. August stepped forward to the light and waited for it to change, ready now to go in, hoping no one saw him while he was vulnerable.

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