I may have grown too comfortable with New York; it feels like home now. Maybe I’ve just let my guard down. Maybe after surviving both New Haven and Detroit, I subconsciously believe I’m street savvy. I’m clearly not. I swipe through the turnstile, pause to put my metrocard back in my wallet, fumble with my credit card, and before I even look up, a barrel of a man body slams me. My wallet flies. I nearly topple. He quickly and profusely apologizes. I stumble over, grab my wallet, and make my way down to the 4 train.
It was probably my fault. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was musing over the latest and greatest playlist my friend Patrick had sent my direction. He has this incredible way of effortlessly mixing things like Flaming Lips with ten-minute dramatic instrumental pieces and somehow it all works. I love that he’s always introducing me to new bands I need to know and reminding me of old favorites I can’t forget. Maybe I should wait to listen until I’m on the train from now on.
Half an hour later, I’m at MRY for Travel+Social Good. I geek out over these things. The ideas and innovation that bounce around, the energy and passion that just explode out of days like this–it’s an inexplicable force. It’s enlightened inspiration, and a hundred brilliant beautiful minds that all really want to do something. It’s incredible. It’s a force that keeps you moving for weeks, for months, through the moments why you question why you’re struggling so hard for something. It’s an alliance of people that truly care enough to create change.
Two hours later, I’m amongst a much smaller crowd, with Runa Tea founder Dan Maccombie at the helm. The idea: Every bite counts. How can food change the world? We agreed. We disagreed. We all came at it from different perspectives and different backgrounds. Academics. Travel Writers. Doctors. Social Engagement Managers. CEOs and Presidents of Food Startups. We debated a lot of things. We struggled to really get into the girth of it in a mere twenty minutes.
Someone gave us the two minute warning; we talked for another five. In my last month at Marlow & Sons, we shot for an article in Saveur, featured as one of the twelve restaurants changing the way America thinks about food.
That was four and a half years ago.
We need to change the way America thinks about food.
We still do.
It was the one thing we all agreed upon. Tristram Stuart closed Travel+Social Good by asking us all to join him at the Feeding the 5K/Disco Soup Launch Party at Pier 57. A thousand pounds of food waste. One celebrity chef and a great space. Half a dozen DJs and a ton of helping hands. We danced, we ate, we laughed. We made dozens of plates and handed out them out to the handfuls of New Yorkers simply walking by or walking home or walking wherever they were walking. We just handed out food. Healthy food. Some people probably needed it. Other didn’t. I’m sure some were simply thankful they didn’t have to go home and order some mediocre $20 delivery off Seamless.
I started to walk home. I needed to take it all in. I felt thankful–thankful to live in this phenomenal city, to be this blessed, to have the opportunity to be a part of an amazing movement. My feet blistered. I didn’t care. It was worth it to feel that alive.
I woke up this morning, made coffee, started baking bread. Joys of moving. A small army of fuzzy things resembling baby caterpillars had taken residence in my bread flour. I quickly throw on a sweatshirt, grab my wallet, and run the two blocks down the street to pick up a new bag. I get to the register with my King Arthur in tow and…my credit card’s gone. Okay, maybe it’s just in my purse. It’s probably not. I instantly flash back to my subway slam. I should have looked.
I get home and still don’t really believe it. I check my purse, it’s not there. Once my bread’s proofing, I call. Apparently, I’m rather predictable. Credit card companies are smart in 2013.
Gorilla|Fairway|Stumptown|McDonalds|McDonalds|McDonalds|$100+ @ Cheap Liquor Store|Papa John’s.
I wasn’t mad. I was sad. As I was on my way to a day-long exploration of social good, the center of which (for me) was food security and sustainability, you took my credit card to buy your food.
I spent my night making and giving away good, healthy, free food. You spent yours taking my money (okay, credit) to buy food (though the quality of that you bought can barely be considered such) and booze that only wrecks your body. I wish, instead, I could have fed you, with my hands and my heart. I wish you’d had what I could have given you, what I’d like to give you, and really, whoever else you fed with three trips to McDonalds, one hell of a pizza order, and a bender booze run.
I would have fed you better than that. I had something to share. (It wasn’t my credit.)
The fraud agent spent an unusually long amount of time on the phone with me. She asked about my day, about Travel+Social Good, about Disco Soup. I’m sure most people are probably really angry when their identity, or credit, gets stolen (I should know. It’s my fourth time in ten years). Maybe she could tell me I was sad or perhaps was she just genuinely curious. She finishes telling me they’ll mail me a new card, pauses, and slowly asks, ”You do you want to reject these charges, correct?”
She knew it, too. I wanted to feed you, but not like that. I actually had to stop and think about it before I answered. Reluctantly, I said yes. If you’d bought apples, would I have said no? I don’t know.
This is what I do know. You stole from me to feed yourself while I was discussing how to feed the masses and then actually doing it. You chose McDonalds. Repeatedly. If you’re going to steal my credit card, please buy some vegetables.
We need to change the way America thinks about food. We need to do it now.