105 degrees outside and 125 degrees in my car! Can’t believe I’m about to make a 100 mile trip to Venice Beach to feed the homeless. OK, that sounds awful of me to complain. I have this Sociology assignment to do ten hours of community service, and truthfully, I have wanted to go to the Santa Monica area and help with my fellow yogi fiends, Arjuna O’Neal and Kasey Luber’s organization, The Share Necessities. A community outreach program in Los Angeles to help the homeless, with food, clothing and school supplies for their children. But of all the days to make the trip…and my air conditioner in my car is kaput.
That’s right, a 100 mile drive, 105 degrees heat and no air conditioner in my car. There hasn’t been any for over two and half years. I took my little Kia Rio to the dealer at that time and they said the motor was dead. And they were right, the motor and air hasn’t started at all in that time. Two and half years of no air in the SoCal heat is mind boggling unbearable. But you do what you have to do when you don’t have the extra funds for repairs. I’m almost jealous of the homeless by the beach in Venice. I mean, the beach is two blocks away! Can’t think that way, just push on and help out to the guys in Venice.
I get maybe 5 minutes away and the sweat is pouring off me into a pool on my seat. I might die, I think to myself. I may actually die of heat exhaustion and I still have 2 hours to drive. I stare glassy eyed out the front window on the 10 freeway, and start to chant to myself, just so I stay conscience… Om Namah Shivaya …over and over again. I am so weak I barely notice coolness on my knuckles on the steering wheel. WTF! Why is there coolness? I wake myself up and notice cool air is coming out of the air conditioner. OK folks, we have just arrived at The Twilight Zone. The air conditioner is working…with a broken motor…and blowing cool…no, wait, it now blowing cold air! Not just cold air, but VERY cold air that I have to turn it down!
I head to West Hollywood to pick up my friend who wants to join me with helping in Venice. He gets in the car and says, “Wow, it’s really cold in here! I thought your AC was broken.” I scream it is and this is something out of a science fiction movie. A ghost in the machine. He turns to me and says, “Maybe it works because you are good person and we are doing something of service for others.” OK, I can accept that. I have to or I’ll go crazy trying to understand this. I can’t think of it on a scientific level at the moment and just have to accept it as a gift from the universe and my teachings in the Laws of Attraction.
As we head down to Venice, we drive through Santa Monica and see all of the haunts my friend used to go to as a boy. He grew up in the area and would always run away from the boarding schools he attended at in Santa Monica and hang out on the beach or at the local food dives that still peppered the landscape. I could see he was in deep thought with his memories of the surroundings. He now is 70 years old and I wonder if he is thinking that we may meet some of his childhood chums as the homeless we are about to meet.
We arrive early to the location in Venice. Homeless people are camped out on both sides of the street. The food truck arrives and we head over to meet the staff. We are the first volunteers to arrive. And homeless people start to walk over to us. They think we are homeless also. We didn’t dress up to volunteer. And most homeless people by the beach fashionably blend in well as shabby chic. We meet a homeless woman who was lucky enough to have come into the good fortune of finding some money and got a car. She lives out of that a street over. She is ready for some tacos to eat. We tell her it's burritos, and she is fine with that. She cracks jokes during our discussion and keeps hoping she gets discovered to appear on a reality show cause she thinks she is funny. She is pretty funny.
The rest of the volunteers arrive along with those in charge. I meet with team leader Ravi, from The Khalsa Peace Corps, and Molly O'Leary from Share A Meal foundation. The rest of the volunteers are gung-ho to help and we all man our work stations in the food truck to start making delicious vegetarian Indian burritos. I'm flying fast making burritos. The crew says it's the fastest time they have done making the food and all the homeless by the truck have been fed and it's still light out. We head out to the Venice Boardwalk to continue passing out burritos, water and socks for the guys and underwear for the girls. We even pass out dog treats for the homeless families with dogs.
We are done in a few hours and everyone is gathering to talk about meeting the next time. We are thanked by so many people on the street. A nice feeling to just share a warm meal with people. I know I'm planning to come back as often as I can. We head back to our cars and leave in our separate directions and back to our families and lives elsewhere. My friend and I are now hungry and he suggests a local food hangout called Johnnie's on Sepulveda. It's been around since 1952 so you know he has been coming there since he was like ten years old. We order their world famous charbroiled hot dogs. They are heavenly. I haven't eaten a hot dog in years and never as good as these. A twinkle in my friend eyes confirm they are the same as when he was a little boy. He becomes that little boy again as we eat our meals. The night is full of great conversation of the evening's events and we head home.
We are able to go to our homes with awesome air conditioning running still...a miracle that keeps on giving. But, like that reference to a science fiction movie I said earlier, as I drive home and pull into my driveway, like John Travolta's character in Phenomenon, where he gets super intelligence powers after seeing a light in the sky and quickly losing them later on...my air conditioner dies as I park the car.
Was it a "miracle" for me giving of my time for others?
Guess I better start doing more for others then...maybe the air conditioner will stay on forever.