Flo is a character. I met her when I started helping with a women’s group on Wednesday mornings at the south food pantry.
The Women of the Food Pantry (as they are called) have been meeting together for nearly five years as a result of the Daily Bread food pantry (run by the Children’s Rescue Center). They receive food each month, and many of them help distribute goods at one of the DB food pantries in Springfield. I’m not sure if Flo has ever helped, but she certainly doesn’t miss out on her monthly allotment. She has also come on Wednesday mornings since they started.
Flo greeted me this week with a hug and wouldnâ€™t let go for quite some time. Her smile was that of a young child, the delightfully innocent kind that most adults are incapable of producing. She hung on my arm for a bit longer until I had to go in a direction that she was not going. Later, during our break, Flo sought me out again and said in hushed tones:
I need to talk to you. [Wow! That was fast! Sheâ€™s already going to pour out secrets to me, and Iâ€™ve only met her twice before.] [Even more quiet] I donâ€™t want anyone to hear. [Pause; look around to see if anyone might be listening] I need a clothes brush. Can you get me a clothes brush?
Me: I donâ€™t have one I can give you, and Iâ€™m not sure where I could get you one right now. [Usually when people from the food pantry want to talk to me in hushed tones itâ€™s because either something traumatic has happened or because they are embarrassed about an urgent need.] Flo, letâ€™s talk about this after our group is done. We need to get started again.
After our group was finished, she found me again. I walked into the room where the food was kept, and she followed me. To my surprise and her great delight, the woman working in the clothes pantry that day walked over and handed her… a clothes brush! Apparently, I wasnâ€™t the only one Flo had spoken to in a whisper. Then in her Flo-like way she sidled over to me again and resumed her confidential voice:
I needed it because I have cat hair on my black pants. Theyâ€™re nice ones, and I want to wear them. But I canâ€™t because theyâ€™re covered with cat hair.
Me: Iâ€™m glad you got a clothes brush.
Methinks Flo might be missing some marbles.
Later, when I talked to Liz, one of the two women who run the food pantries, she told me that sometimes Flo gets on the nerves of other group members. She said Flo doesnâ€™t like people knowing about her personal needs and that she is rather paranoid.
Well, golly! Who would have guessed?
But Floâ€™s beautiful smile could light up a building. Even though she is nearly toothless.