It’s the third full season of fashion week for me, and I’ve yet to tire myself out of this world– miracle?.
Yesterday, I had a weekend day free of any fashion related duties and spent the morning volunteering for a pantry kitchen where we served breakfast and handed out grocery goods to approximately 600 – 800 guests.
The organization through which I had registered for this volunteer event was affiliated with a New York based church, but the volunteers’ profiles were not limited to those with particular religious affiliations.
I was allocated this time to valet duty. Valet duty in kitchen terminology is defined as the setting aside of guests’ dolley carts in designated spots within the boundaries of the sectioned off roadside curb (Hello makeshift NY parking lot!).
A cursory glance made this role appear very simple and essential.
However, I quickly came to realize that it demanded all my skill-sets. It required a steady performance via my social intelligence and client facing skills –going way beyond engagement of the physical.
Over the span of 3 hours, I was honored to make the acquaintances of many Chinese immigrants, New Yorkers, the occasional young couple, and a spirited French man who was owner of decayed teeth, perfect skin, highly swollen legs, a poorly taken care of stitching job, and a brilliant and poetic mind.
I spoke mainly in English as I directed our patrons to and from their possessions, often attempting to speak in my broken Mandarin Chinese as the need frequently arose. This of course didn’t always come across effectively as the entire Chinese diaspora had presented themselves, and upon exchange of a couple of words our disparity in dialects became apparent.
From the multitude of human interactions I had, most of the time spent in communication with our guests was non-verbal. Nevertheless, the value of the exchange was tantamount if not greater than if I had conversed with them over a dinner table.
The connection shared upon us offering to one another our respect, love, and our dignities was affirmed in such a strong and powerful way– channeled through the simplest of gestures, a beautiful smile, or as an observant person that morning noted, “I looked into your eyes and for a moment I saw your truth.”
I was humbled, blessed, enriched, and invigorated by the love we all presented each other with and in the re-realization that we all clearly have an amazing and huge capacity for giving and receiving good things.
I’m excited to serve the city of New York again.