Ladies First

Friday, August 14, 2009: Soup Kitchen, 5 P.M. Sharp: The line was already long, mostly men. I asked James, the volunteer supervisor if it was still Ladies First policy. Yes, he said, going inside. I took my place a foot or two from a man wearing brown/white military-type pants, a white T-shirt and black L.A. Gear-like shoes. “Get back to the end of the line,” he told me in a loud voice. “No, I answered.” James just said it is Ladies First.” “Get back to the end of the line, or I’ll kick you in the face,” he told me, his voice becoming louder. “No, I repeated. “Go ask him if you don’t believe me. It is Ladies First.” Again, he told me to get to the end of the line. I looked at the other men and knew I’d get no help from them. I walked up the wooden plank to the cafeteria door and, once inside, asked for James. After I repeated what the man had threatened to do, James said: No, he won’t. He, another volunteer and I walked outside. “The Coalition policy is Ladies first,” he told the guy.” Just so she doesn’t stand next to me”, was the man’s reply. I had not been standing next to him. James went to the cafeteria and brought me his folding chair for me to sit on. I was very grateful and I felt protected, something I have not felt for a long time.

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