All The World’s Problems Apr03


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All The World’s Problems

All ten of the determined college girls marched in lock step to the tall, brick,  building , just across the Lane from the City’s big popular park known as Green Brady Park.  They paused outside the largest building  for a few seconds, then in one quiet row, no longer in marching mode, entered and stood in the wide waiting room outside of the elegant restaurant’s busy dining room entrance. An attractive, young woman behind the entry desk asked what she could do for them and all nine women looked at the tenth, Sal.

Sal, their apparent leader, turned to speak to them. I believe we will have a much better impact if one after the other of us at a time goes in to see the owner and requests nicely his permission to use their large Banquet Room for our monthly meetings.

At hearing that, the young woman behind the tall reservation desk interrupted to let them know that the owner was not in today and offered to help.

Sal looked disappointed mainly because she had called to ask if Mr. Ben Brady would be available and been assured he would be.  Sal was told that the man who owned the restaurant also knew his way around the kitchen almost as well as the Chef and would be the only one who could give that permission. So no, she didn’t think this young lady could be of much help.

“I called first.”  She told the girl.  “I suppose something just came up and he had to leave.”

“Oh are you Sal, the one who called for a personal appointment?  Mr. Brady said to tell you he was down by the Boat yard and if you wanted to, you might see him there.  Just tell anybody on the Dock that Ben is expecting you. He said, They’ll point him out.”  Sal turned to the group to relay the message.

“So I guess there is no point in all of us going to the Dock.  You all go shopping or to lunch or something.  I’ll go to the Dock and ask around.  The chances are good that he will be gone from there by the time I arrive anyway.  We will meet again Wednesday on the school grounds, same place, if I don’t call or E-mail differently.”  Some looked irritated other looked delighted.  They were all students in different walks of life with different opinions as they soon discovered.  The only sure point of agreement was their desire to help feed the local homeless and doing that good deed was the reason they had become such a close working group.  

Sal waited by the drinking fountain until the girls had all wandered out and the attendant had left to seat a pair of customers in the dining room.  

Alone she quickly stepped silently up the stairs on tip toe so her high heeled shoes would not draw attention as she went to the first door on the right, the one that would surely have a room with view of Green Brady Park. That Park had become part of the group’s problem. 

Without knocking she quietly opened the door which bore the same name as the Park… Brady.  Ben Brady.

Just as she thought!  Ben Brady sat behind his desk his head bent over some paper work.  He looked up surprised and said.

“I suppose you are who I think you are.”

“Yes and you are wondering why I am not down on the Dock asking around if anyone has seen you.”  Sal smiled in spite of the sarcastic tone having learned that her smile got her more of what she desired.

Ben sat staring at her.  I guess I owe you an apology for that but… then he stopped…  not wanting to confess his real reason, that he just had no sympathy for her cause and did not want to become involved with some school girl do-gooders.  Now that she stood before him looking like a top model, which she sometimes was, he sat up tall and straight, with a smile of his own as he inquired in that school principle voice he often used on employees,

“Why are you not down on the Dock?  Did not Miss Anders give you my message clearly enough?”  

“Oh she did that!  But why would I think you would be, when you had an appointment to see me, and then for some reason only you know, changed your mind,  so you needed to squirm out of it?   Next time, need to catch a plane or something more believable”  She walked to the chair opposite his but did not sit in it.  He gave it to her straight, just as she was doing to him.

“The word is out that you have gathered a bunch of rich do-gooders who had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find a cause to make a noise about.  Unfortunately you chose my Park to do it in.”

“And just exactly what is wrong with wanting to feed those unfortunate people who are homeless and hungry?”

“Quite a lot.  But I didn’t want to waste my time trying to make you understand something so beyond you.”  He didn’t even smile as he expressed that very frank opinion.

“Then you have never walked among them or you would surely have more humane feelings.”    Ben got up and walked to the large picture window where he pulled the shades blocking the afternoon sun and stood by the view of the lovely green Public Park name for his Grandfather.

“I don’t have to walk with them.  I can see them all day and late into many nights.”

Sal glided over to his side and stood watching the children on the play ground and the runners on the walks around the lake, and remarked softly.

“ It is a beautiful Park you must be proud to carry the name.  But it is still for all of the people not just those named Brady and business building views is it not?”   

Oh , oh, Sal quickly recomposed herself.  That speech had sounded slightly rude, not what she intended do today no matter how she was feeling.  She turned to the man and looked to see if he was upset by that remark.  He was looking her over in the same way most men did, as if admiring her nice figure and beautiful long hair, he probably had not even been listening, so she changed the subject after a graceful stroll and turn by his desk to give him a good look at her, after all if her looks could get her what she wanted she had better take advantage.  Then she told him that she would like to invite him to a nice little picnic in that very park, adding,

“Think of it as a business luncheon in the open, so we can view what we are talking about as we sit in the cool shade with a glass of wine and…”  She smiled, “What is your favorite picnic lunch?  You are, after all, known as the town’s expert on eating.  Your dining room down stairs is proof.”

Ben walked back to his desk and stood facing her, and actually smiled.  

Whew! Sal thought, I almost blew this meeting. Now he looks almost human.  

“In which case that being true,” he continued, “I will have my chef provide the picnic.  When do you have in mind?”

“I’m available at your beckon call.”  Sal told him, as she threw her stylish bag strap over her shoulder, drawing his eyes to it and her low cut sweater.    

“In that case, how about in an hour to give the chef time to do well by us.”

“Where shall we meet? It’s your Park. “

“At the gazebo music stand there’s a good table nearby.”

“I’ll be there.”  Sal said with a slow look, “But will you?  You may be called to the Docks again.”  She added slyly.

“One never knows what may come up in the business world, but I shall try.”  Ben replied, trying to keep her on edge.  She had been too clever earlier not buying into his excuse to not meet with her and marching straight into his office, but that was before he had seen her.  Now was different.  He knew he would be there, but preferred to keep her wondering.  He watched as she walked slowly out of his office without a look back.  Yes, he would be there.    

Sal quickened her pace after she was outside of the restaurant.   She had an hour and ten minutes to change into comfortable, but alluring, park clothes and not keep him waiting… too long.  This picnic was her idea and if she wanted him to understand what her Group’s good goals were, she had to explain them well.

It took ten of her precious minutes to decide what to wear that would keep his attention and not over play her appearance.  She arrived in the Park in well fitting running clothes.  The white pants were long, even though she also had matching shorts,  she decided against them and chose a top that was blue like her eyes.  With a high neck top that didn’t show more than a nice firm outline and white running shoes she hurried out the door.

She had pulled her long hair up and tied it neatly on top with a few little curls escaping as if she had just finished a nice active run.  She spotted the place where he was sitting and trotted up to the table that looked welcoming with a checkered cloth spread before him, probably the chef’s idea, and four matching wine glasses in a neat row. 

“Are we expecting more guests?”  she asked, as she slowed to her smooth model walk to join him .

“ No, Just us and two wines, one for the meal and another for dessert.”  He answered,  

Sal took a seat opposite him at the table so he could look at her as they talked and ate.

He began by inquiring if the name she had given to the office, Sal, was short for Sally.

“Absolutely not!” she admitted adamantly. “I have always been called just Sal.  It works for me and can be taken for a man’s name if necessary.  But you probably wouldn’t understand that.  Is Ben for Benjamin?”  she asked politely.

“Yes but I prefer Mr. Brady. That works for me.”  He smiled

“Oh, “ Sal said in surprise,  So that is how it is,   “Well, Mr. Brady.  I must remember that.  So, Mr. Brady what has your chef put in the basket for us.   I am really starved.  I skipped breakfast to be in time for our morning meeting.”

“He thought you might prefer a salad instead of something fried, you being a model and all, so there are two salad bowls in the basket, one with my favorite dressing .  And one salad plain, with a choice of three of his special salad dressings.”

“That sounds great to me.   I must try all three and let him know which I like best.  Don’t tell me yours.  I don’t want know until I decide for myself.”

“I won’t but you’ll probably know once I remove the lid.  It’s quite… well you’ll  know.”

“So how did he know I was once a model?”

“He had a pin-up in the pantry and showed it to me.  Pretty nice you in a white bikini.”

“Don’t those darn things ever wear out and go away?  That was long ago.”

You look better in person. I looked you over as you arrived, still very nice, even fully dressed.”  Sal was inclined to say, thank you, but didn’t.  She just looked him over across the table and licked her lips slowly saying, “You look pretty good yourself.  Have you ever modeled?”

“Good heavens No!”

“Too bad, I’d like to have a pin-up of that!   With or without a bathing suit.”  Now, she thought, the spot light is on him.  She wondered how he liked it.       

Ben said nothing.  He just reached into the basket and handed her a large porcelain salad bowl, as he gathered his thoughts from trying to figure out her statement.  

 Sal took it and eagerly removed the protective lid.  Someone must have walked it slowly to the park for the various ingredients were arranged in a circle like a Cobb salad, so you could choose which of the many succulent ingredients nestled in the crisp lettuce to eat plain and which to cover with dressing.  The three bottles containing dressing were corked and unlabeled , so she took them with curiosity and smelled each first.  The strong garlicky  bottle matched Ben’s salad odor, so he was right she knew which he liked best.  She tasted each daintily with her finger tip and loved them all.  Then she sprinkled the garlicky one onto her salad.  As she guessed, Ben smiled.  He had liked that she chose his.

They ate quietly making some small talk about the food.  The rolls were warm and buttered.  The wine was great with the salad and Sal wondered what the dessert would be.  But they had not spoken one word about the reason she had called for a meeting with him or why she was here.  Why did she have the feeling that the comfortable friendship that was blooming between him would end abruptly once she brought up the subject of the homeless who were right now being fed a block and a half away in this very Park.  

Her plan had been to eat and walk in the direction of the place her Group took the large covered containers of hot food and paper plates to feed those homeless men who came there.  Let him see how successful they were being at taking care of the less fortunate who arrived daily in advance and waited eagerly for them to deliver what was probably their only meal of the day. 

So why was she sitting here picking between the turkey and ham or bacon, next to the chopped egg and her favorite, slices of avocado, blue cheese and tiny tomatoes out of the salad bowl, as she ate slowly and gazed at this great looking man, she hadn’t been kidding him really she realized as she listened so eagerly to every unimportant word he said?  

Time was slipping away and she might not get this chance to show him the good work they wanted him, with the assets of his restaurant, to help finance, perhaps with food, which was their main expense.  The girls and she had agreed that if they could use his Banquet Room to meet, he might appear sometimes and begin to take an interest in their Project.

Come on Sal she told herself, get moving,  he might get up any minute and claim an important meeting and go.  She stood and stretched as he watched with interest, then suggested they take a little walk in the Park.

“What about our dessert?”  he protested.

Sal looked around and then suggested, “Offer that kid reading under the tree a dollar to watch them for us, until we return.”

“And exactly what could he do if some big tramp that hangs out in this Park everyday comes and picks them all up… eh?  Nothing that’s what!”  He wanted to speak more gently, but just thinking about it made him angry all over again.  “ The kids in this Park are at their mercy, you know.  Their mothers say that soon they will not be able to come here at all.  They have had their lunches and ice cream money taken from them as the kids are afraid of them.  The mothers have even posted each other in turns at the swing area to let the children keep at least that much. “

Oh boy.  Sal heard the anger and was really worried now. He has heard too many of the complaints to be easy with us.  She began to slowly walk in the direction of the feeding area so he could see the good side for himself.  She could only hope it wasn’t too late.  

Ben didn’t follow until he had refilled the basket and picked it up.  He seemed a bit put out as he caught up with her.  He looked at his watch and told Sal he had a meeting to attend in an hour.  We can walk a bit then let’s take time for the chef’s desert closer to the car park.

“Good idea”  Sal smiled as she hurried her step to the homeless feeding area.  She felt him skip up to stay even with her and smiled as she stopped at the last corner to tell him. 

“This is why I invited you to this picnic, that you so kindly supplied,  I wanted you  to see our Group’s work in action so you will understand it’s importance. “ Right this way.” she announced proudly.

 The next bend led them to a large flat grassy area with lots of tables where twenty or more men sat as the women filled their paper plates with hot spaghetti from large silver servers.  Other women walked around passing French bread rolls with papers of butter and tiny plastic containers of honey.  Milk cartons already lay empty around the tables. 

“Just look at that turnout!”  Sal said proudly, “When we began there were only about six or seven.  But with time, the word got out and now just look at how many come for their one hot meal of the day.  That is why we need your help.  Our food budget is stretched beyond our ability, even though our girls contribute the most plus their valuable time, we simply cannot do it all alone.”

Ben just stood staring,  “My God!”  he gasped, “So this is what is ruining our beautiful Park!  Everyone keeps asking why there are so many tramps beginning to hang out here.  The neighborhood  families are afraid to come here anymore because of the number of drunks and drug dealers who have begun to take up all of the tables and benches.  The problem has had us all at odds trying to figure it out.  And there it is.  Your Group has begun to attract them in from everywhere far and wide.”

You don’t see the good we are doing, making an effort to feed these poor unfortunate humans in need?   You only see them as clutter in your Park?  Our girls work hard at stretching every dollar to feed as many as possible with what we get from other sympathetic folks, and all you can see is… I give up! You are hopeless.  We will have to look elsewhere.  I’ll bet that dessert in the basket and those two wines could have fed twice as many homeless.  Well I hope you enjoy it! Count me out!”  Sal began to walk away quickly.  She wasn’t sure where but she wanted away from him.  She should help her friends with the pick-up as they will leave the park clean when they go. But right now she just wanted to put some distance between them.

Ben chased after her. And she began to run.  He dropped the basket and soon caught her.

“Just a damn minute.  You had your say.  Now stay and give me a chance to show you mine.“   He led her back to where he dropped the basket, picked it up, leaving what spilled out on the path and then he walked her to his car in the front row of the lot facing the Park.  He opened the passenger door and she sat down in the comfortable leather seat of the gorgeous Corvette, still  huffing from her planned escape run.  Sal was not sure why she had let herself be led here but she sat still trying to decide if it was going to be worthwhile.  His attitude seemed firmly opposed to her work.  Still she stayed just in case.  She never got what she was after if she gave up too quickly.  Getting what she wanted was what made her the leader that she had naturally become.  However her patented smile would not return… not yet… not for him!   Still she did not want to appear sulky, so she  composed herself to hear what silliness he thought he needed to say.  

He got into the car with a glass in each hand from the wine he had taken from the basket before he put it in the trunk. 

 “The dessert wine.”  he said as she took the stemmed glass and took a tiny sip.  

“You didn’t drop anything else into this glass did you?  I’ve been warned about men who hand you a glass you didn’t see poured.”

Ben laughed, “I haven’t had to drug a date yet, so I won’t start with you.  You probably are immune anyway, but don’t drink it if you are leery of me. “  He took a good sip of his, then handed it to Sal and took hers , which he began to drink.  

Sal had to smile at that, as she began to take sips from his former glass.  “This dessert wine is very good.  What dessert did the chef put with it?”

“ I don’t know.”  He chuckled,  “Sorry, but it fell out when I dropped the basket to chase you.  I sure hope some homeless dog enjoys it.” 

“I’m sorry I ran. But you were… oh well never mind.  I’m sorry I made you lose your dessert.  But I am sure the Chef will make it up to you.”

“I would rather have you than the dessert.  That is why I caught you.  There is more to this than you know.  I’m going to show you in a few minutes what I watch every day from my window.  He pointed back at the window to his office.  

She knew where it was.  She had often seen him standing there and as she found him to be attractive, she learned who and what he was.  All of that gave her the idea to seek his help and also get to know what he was like.  She knew he owned and worked the restaurant and that the Park was named for his Grandfather who had donated it to the city.  His office building was filled with  offices of  lawyers and doctors etcetera and had once been surrounded by all of that Park land.  And she knew very importantly that he was still single.  So here she sat willing to hear stuff she really didn’t want to know. And she was enjoying it because he was here.

“What does Sal stand for then?”  He quipped as if he cared.  

“Sal.”  she said, The rest is private and for only me to know. “

“Now I am curious.”  He turned to her. “ What will come up if I goggle it”

“Sal.”   She smiled even though she hadn’t planned to after all of those terrible things he had said.   

“So you’ve got that covered too, eh?”  He leaned back and looked out at the blue cloudless sky as he told her,   “I have ways and friends in high places.”

“Where the whisky flows and the beer braces.”  She added the words from the cowboy’s song. 

“Ben laughed, “So you like Country too.  We have a lot in common.”

“Yes Mr. Brady I do.  But that is all we have in common.”  

“We’d have more if you tell me your real name.  I will tell you mine.”

“Then you go first.  If I believe you I’ll give you mine,

“Okay then.  I am named after my mother’s father’s Park.  So my passport name on the birth certificate is Green Brady.  Green is my mother’s maiden name. 

When Grandpa Brady named his new park with both family names, Green Brady Park, my mother and her dad were so pleased that she tacked both names on me. 

“I gave myself the name of Ben from a T.V. show when I was ten.”  It took awhile to lose the friends who called me Greeny Weenie.  Sal had to laugh. 

“Mr.  Brady, even you couldn’t make that up.  I guess I am forced to believe you. So I can tell you that my first name is just Salvadore with no middle name..  The place where my father was born.”

“Well that’s kind of cute as well as different.”

“And Green is very big and it’s really “IN” these days.”

“So I notice and aren’t you getting a little tired of the things that have gone green?  But, please don’t start calling me that!  I’m a serious business man now.”

“Do I still have to call you Mr. Brady?”  Sal asked softly,

Ben whispered, “Honey, you alone, may call me anything, you wish…anytime.  Just as long as you call me.  Especially in case I get busy and forget to call you.  I get in so much trouble for neglecting to call others.  I’ve been accused of not being able to chew gum and…   you name it, when I’m wrapped up in business decisions.  So one of us has to be responsible.”

He heard a noise and looked around outside and then at his wrist watch.  “Here they come now.  Right on time.”

 Sal began to follow his gaze outside to see what he meant.  She only saw a couple of the regular  homeless guys walking slowly across the gravel lot then the street and up to the next corner.  They disappeared into the 711 mini-market. 

So what? She wondered.  Then four more guys went by and to the same store.  One by one they made the journey from the park to the 711.  She hadn’t counted them, but Ben did as he said, “That’s twelve, about average.  Sometimes more or less.”

“So what?  Aren’t they allowed to use the market for things just like everybody else?”  Sal was getting irritated again.

“Oh don’t get me wrong.  Of course they are and do every day like clockwork”    

Then Sal watched as the first two men returned, passing close to their car as they went back into the Park.  But she had to notice that they each carried a twelve pack of beer on top of their shoulders and two cartons of cigarettes under the other arm.  

Ben said nothing as the others slowly made their way back with the same merchandise.   When the parade ended Sal commented angrily.  

“That’s what you wanted me to see.  You are critical of them for liking a beer after their meal, while we sit with expensive wine after ours. ”

“No!  I am critical of the complaints I get from the neighborhood that these men are being attracted to our city park by your Group’s meals and then those poor folks, who can’t afford to feed themselves, pull together enough money for loads of beer and cigarettes, so that they may party and rough house all night, often resulting in knife fights and Police or ambulance calls, which keep the working stiffs in their nearby homes up all night and then  leaves the park strewn with cigarette wrappers, butts and empty beer cans, plus a collection of vodka bottles. Some children had found a few partly full.

  And to make matters worse some bums stay over and are found sleeping stretched out under newspapers on the benches that the early morning neighbors once liked to use to rest from their runs and walks.  Surely you have noticed them on yours. Haven’t you heard how the children cannot use the equipment we all put in for them while the men are passed out in sand boxes and on slides. 

You absolutely must find a better place to feed them, if all of you insist on doing that.  Just know that your work does not change a thing. So like it or not, sitting here it looks as if  you are now beginning to feed a large group of ner-do-wells who can afford to buy a meal, but have joined up for the big all night party.  How much is a half case of beer? And an entire carton of cigarettes is not cheap. I noted a Vodka bottle or two with that bunch … even more expensive.  Ask your Group if they like working so hard to give a party they are not even invited to attend.    

Now, I have to go to a meeting.  And yes you may hold your meetings in our Banquet Room once a month, if you like, but right now may I drop you some place or take…”  

Sal was already getting out of the car to join her girls.  She turned to thank him with hesitation. 

“Anyway thank you for the picnic and the offer to use your Nice Room.  Our ladies will be pleased.  I had better go help them and give them the news…  good and bad!”  She tried to sound reasonable, but he noted that her voice was shaking and was worried that he had given it to her much too harshly… but, he reasoned, she had to be told.

Sal dashed away into the Park thinking, damn him! Nothing but a wet blanket!  What a shame. He can’t see the good side of anything.  And I believed he looked like such a nice guy from a distance.  He’s so good looking, but too selfish to have sympathy for his fellow men.  

Ben watched her go as long a she was in sight before he even started the engine.  He left, thinking…  That is some woman! It’s just too bad that she can’t see that she is not helping those unfortunates but enabling them.  

Ben shook thoughts of her out of his head and went to his business meeting to plan a second restaurant on the opposite side of the Grand Family Park.  He wanted that new place to be as elegant looking as this exclusive and expensive one, but still cater to the Park families with small children, who are discouraged from this one by both the prices and reservation booking policy.  

His entire mind went instantly to that exciting new project.  The new one will have smaller servings, just as this one does with those very expensive items, but it will have a simpler fast food type popular menu in a far prettier setting.    At least that is what he is trying to do. His builders and architects have been kept waiting for a half an hour by that very pretty, but rather single minded young woman.  Still he was rather glad he had put at least a little understanding in her head…if possible.  Anyway, he would now be able to listen to some of their meetings and find out what their plans were before he had to lower the boom and flat out arrange to have the City Council refuse to let them continue to attract the riff-raff to our Park.

An entire month went quickly by as Ben was buried in plans and drawings and interviewing chefs. and all without a brick being laid for his building.  He had given some thought to Sal and her group on that day they met in his Banquet Room, but he was on the other side of town looking at the empty lot he was trying to get something built upon.  

It was annoying that even for him, the City Planning department had Regulations and Permits to approve before anything at all could happen.

Often it was suggested to him that he run for Mayor or the City Council, as his name would almost assure success.  But he had no desire to get bogged down in that hullabaloo .  As far as Ben could see the people who wanted those jobs were mostly unfit for much else.

Sal was disappointed to have not been called by Ben, or excuse me, she thought, Mr. Brady, but no he had told her to call him anything, just call me.  Maybe she should.  But Sal had hoped to have made a better impression on him than that.  She had actually worked to do that very thing, so she concluded that she had over-done it, maybe made herself  look, well, too cutesy, thus it was her own fault. 

An important business man like Mr… Ben Brady very likely preferred the more intellectual type. Although if he had been seen with another lady, he was so well known , it would have been in the papers.  She would have read about it. Unless, maybe he was very cautious or really thought he was above anyone in this City.  

Sal decided that he must be a bigger snob than she originally thought and not her type anyway.  Even she, working to help those men he considered just tramps who should not set foot in his nice clean name-sake Park, had more compassion for the under privileged, than he had. 

 Still no one else she met, not even any of the guys on her College campus, ever hit her with the same impact as he did, even that first day when she seen him standing in his office window looking out at the Park. Imagine me a silly girl swooning over a… super star or a movie star… the same thing.  I’ll just have to move on and forget about that one. So instead of calling him, she reluctantly dismissed him. 

Sal was actually relieved when she learned he was out of town when they held their planning meeting in his Banquet Room. Now she needn’t worry about facing him with nothing to say.   But she was pleased when the waiters came in with coffee, on the house, for everyone.  She thought to write a thank you note to him, but didn’t .  He probably didn’t even know about it, anyway.

The students and now ladies, as they had a few teachers interested in their Project, so had grown in number.  With them came some new ideas on how to improve the food each day .  Like to give the men a more complete meal for less money with product donations  

One lady had a friend with orchards who would give them enough of either apples or pears for one day each week. Another said she had a hundred left over boxes of Girl Scout cookies they could have.  Her troop had ordered too many and the leftovers bit so much into their profit that they may not do it next year.  People just don’t want all of those unnecessary calories any more. They might do better selling Calendars or Greeting Cards. 

 So the group accepted the cookies gratefully as a couple extra calories wouldn’t hurt those men.

At the next month’s meeting they were happy to learn that the number of men they fed daily had again increased.  But sadly they had also received double the amount of complaint letters.  Like those from the PTA, now representing the mothers who had children in the neighborhood schools.  

They were informed that because of them the Park was no longer a desirable place for the children to play.  The restrooms were off limits unless they were accompanied by a parent, as the drug dealers hid out in there and waited for their adult customers, but were tempting the children to try free samples,   Even if a parent went in, in advance, they left if a person was inside and took their child home.  The Park had less and less children each day.  What a shame it had been such a nice play place for several years.

Now the group who fed the homeless had to consider how they had changed the Park.  And imagine!  Just for doing a good thing. They did not feel responsible for the drug dealers.  They were a Police matter.  Why didn’t they step in and arrest them?  They wrote to the Police to tell them that.  They called Sal personally to say that they had plenty to do, so why don’t you feed the homeless in the next town someplace. She was insulted!  Of all the nerve!

 At the next meeting Mr. Brady actually made a personal appearance.  The Group was all atwitter at the news he was coming to speak to them, until  he walked in looking serious and did not say a single word to anyone or even smile. 

He arrived carrying three letters from very prominent citizens, like important messages from above.  They each wrote to tell him to stop encouraging that group who met at his establishment to plan the feeding of the homeless in their formerly nice Park or they would begin to boycott his restaurant.

When he first came in Sal couldn’t help being pleased and introduced him with a smile, but he soon quenched that with the reading of the three complaining letters, 

“He stood stiffly a moment waiting for a reaction, but the women sat quietly waiting for his inevitable announcement that they could no longer meet here.  Hearing nothing, he began.  

“So I have decided that we must work together on this and solve the problems your group has caused.”  The women who had worked so hard for a good cause moaned at that.

“I have sort of a plan and I will tell it to you and you see what you can do about the details.  But first you must leave the Park altogether”

It was worse than they thought.  Not just leave the Banquet Room, but the entire Green Brady Park!

“ No!”  Someone shouted out.  “We can’t just let them all starve now.”

“You won’t have to if you find a different way to get food to those who truly need it.”  Mr. Brady answered,  Start by trying to think of something else to do..   The World is so full of problems, like Health Care, Immigration, Drugs, Guns,  Child care for single working mothers.  Take on a different cause, or work this one from another angle.” 

 In the Park you have created a party situation that goes on all night and also the next day as they hang around waiting for you to serve them again, rendering the Park useless to the children my Grandfather intended it to be mainly for.  I have dozens of letters like this from the mothers.  I take it that none of you are mothers. “ 

 The student girls laughed.  He hadn’t intended to be funny but it still sounded better than the previous moans.  

Ben glanced around to try to find Sal.  He wondered how she was taking his unwelcome words. Especially after how hard he was before. He didn’t see her behind him, wondering if she should step in and stop him or what? As Sal wavered on the decision, Ben suddenly took a new tack.

I’m building a new restaurant on the other side of the Park and my first thought was that I could provide a large feeding room for you, but quickly saw that they would still hang out in the Park day and night waiting for you to open it. It’s just too close.  I had another idea but can’t seem to make it work. in my mind,  This problem, like most of the worlds problems, is just too great for a single, even well meaning Group, to solve.  

Many towns have tried to provide sleeping quarters for those that are homeless but they simply will not go there.  They prefer to have their beer parties and at least our city cannot allow that.   Only an occasional intact family ever showed up at theirs plus two or three women, running away from abusive men.  They all needed help, so that was okay, They got it, but it didn’t solve the Park problem as intended. 

If  I, and some other restaurant people, provided tickets that you could give to anyone who is truly needy and unable to work, that they could come in and sit down for a free meal.  We would be willing,  but too many in one place would soon ruin all of the public business just like it has the Park and we would fail and close.

A group, called something like, “Dress for Success,” is trying something new.  They hold classes for the homeless to attend, if they are willing, to learn a craft that will lead to a job.  At graduation they are taught how to interview and most find work,.  Here is the dress part.  

They have collected a room full of donated clothes even shoes and purses,  which must all be clean and on hangers.  The newly employed are admitted to this huge room full of racks of nice clean clothing of all kinds and sizes and guided to select a ward robe of clothes suited for their new job.  For this excellent use other folks have often donated even new clothing and accessories.

Dressed for Success and feeling good about them-selves, these people become real working citizens, no longer on the streets.  He smiled and added 

“I call their work a success.”

 Another Woman’s Club you may be well aware of, packs brown paper bags with easy to eat, even out of the can or box foods, and keeps them on a shelf inside their Club house to be delivered to homes that are in trouble and need food now.  They even contain canned milk and cereal for the very young.  And often fresh fruit and veggies are added as they go.  Maybe you can rework their idea in some way to provide good food to needy men without bringing them to one undesirable, location, like the Kid’s Park.

Please think about it and let me know how I can help you with your good unselfish work in a better way for all.  A group of intelligent college women of this size must have a myriad of ideas that I could never think up. 

 I’ll come to your next meeting,  if you let me know that you have some ideas I might like to hear or participate in.   

Thank you for listening…” Then he gave them I real smile and added… “No matter how difficult it was for you to unwillingly hear me, you are still welcome in this Banquet Room for future meetings.”  

Ben turned abruptly to leave and bumped straight into Sal.  He apologized profusely before he saw who she was.  Then stopped and took her by the arm and led her right out of the Banquet Room and into the main restaurant. 

Still standing in the crowded restaurant, filled with rushing waiters and active bus boys serving the dining patrons,  he ignored it all as he stammered to speak softly but over the classical background music.
“I, I, have been meaning to call you, but, but,”  Sal chuckled inside.

“I know,” she interrupted, “You were called down to the Boat Docks.” Although she was being funny she suppressed a smile that wanted out. He did have that effect on her causing butterflies inside. Thinking to leave him flat, but unable to go. 

He looked serious and she wanted to learn why, so she listened as he replied,

“Right!  Right!  It was something like that.  Only it was the new building on the other side of Green Brady Park.”

Sal understood and told him so.

 “I heard you mention that once and every month someone explained that you were over there, so I knew.  It’s alright. You’re forgiven and we all still appreciate the Room use in spite of the criticism. And I know the Ladies will do as you said.  They were hearing the complaints too, you know.   You are right about one thing.  A social problem like that one is too big for a single Group to handle, but we were at least trying.   What are some other World Problems we can tackle?

He was trying to remember some as his mind was still on what he needed to tell her.  He threw out a few, “There are millions, Education, Health Care, Water and Air Pollution.  They are everywhere but…but…”   Sal began to apologize, “We thought we had the answer, but so sorry, we didn’t.  Anyway, thanks again for explaining to the group and challenging them. I really do appreciate it.  Finished, Sal started to walk away but was stopped by Ben as he held her arm again. He explained, 

“ That was not why I brought you out here. I, I, forgot something when we were having our picnic.”

“Yes, I know.  You still owe me dessert. I’ll collect some day out of curiosity.”

“That too.  But… what I really missed the most was… well, let me show you.” At that he wrapped both arms gently around her and kissed her a good proper kiss, right there in front of all the diners.  And Sal’s arms slid up around his neck as she kissed him right back.