On MLK Day, Kaiser Permanente paid 800 employees in our region their regular wages to volunteer at various sites - many of them providing free medical and dental care. I actually worked, hanging out at the N X NE Clinic to assist any media who might show up (KOIN TV eventually did). While I waited, I chatted with some of the patients. One lady looked to be in her 60s, gray hair, dressed in shades of oatmeal and cardboard, timid demeanor. This clinic is run literally on a prayer and a shoestring. In the corner, a cheap see-through plastic dresser held free stuff - toothpaste and toothbrush samples, some kid's cough medicine. She was overjoyed to score some floss.
Then some kid came to restock the bins. He also brought with him a roll of toilet paper to put in the tiny bathroom after he was done restocking. Eyeing the toilet paper, the woman said, "Nobody ever gives out toilet paper, not even in the food boxes." A few minutes later, he checked with his mom (one of the women who started the clinic) and came back and presented her with a roll.
Her eyes widened. She looked like she might cry from happiness.
And I'm sitting there thinking: I don't appreciate my life nearly enough.
[Full disclosure: although giving notice at my job has led to some fantasies where, a couple of years down the road, I'm the woman who can't afford toilet paper.]