Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another Shift At The Shelter

I did another four hours at the hurricane shelter last night. I was on from 10pm until 2am, so things were relatively quiet. I helped some folks to get around and kept my eye on things.

Many people who were there last week were able to leave. Some got to go home, but others moved to shelters closer to their homes. I can imagine that would be frustrating for them; moving from one shelter to another and not being able to go back to familiar surroundings. The other shelter in our town is closing, so the people remaining there will come to our shelter this afternoon. It'll probably be a little busier when I'm there tonight.

The most exciting thing was trying to track down the mystery smoker who lit up in the bathroom. I went into the men's room to take care of some business and I could smell the smoke very strongly. Whoever it was, I just missed him.  The shelter supervisor looked around, but he didn't find anything amiss. He sprayed to get rid of the smell, but that's all he could do.

It took me back to high school (yes, it was a long time ago). Sr. Evangeline was a nun on a mission: teach kids about Herman Melville and Nathanial Hawthorne and catch kids smoking in the school. There were a few times when I was in the boys' room when she would burst in and yell, "OK! Who's smoking in here?" Thankfully, I was never caught in one of these surprise raids, but she did manage to rack up an impressive record of "busts."

One day, my friends and I were in the library during lunch - probably doing homework for our afternoon classes we should have done at home. All of the sudden, Sr. Evangeline burst through the door with her usual abruptness, yelling: "OK! Who's smoking in here?"

I don't remember if it was I who was brave enough to ask, or whether it was one of my friends. But, as she hurried around the room looking for errant cigarette smoke, one of us asked, "Sister, who would be stupid enough to smoke in the library? They'd surely be caught in here." As I recall, her answer was something about stupid, spoiled kids doing things they're not supposed to and ruining their lives.

The teachers' lounge was right next to the library. In those days, the teachers were allowed to smoke in the building, in the teachers' lounge. Often there would be a cloud wafting out of the room when someone entered or exited. Some other brave kid asked Sr. Evangeline if perhaps she was smelling the smoke coming from there. No, it had to be a kid in the library.

Of course, I digress. I had to chuckle to myself as I thought about her bursting into the boys' room looking for criminal tobacco use.

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