Tuesday, January 6, 2009

'Feed the Stranded Masses ': An Act of Kindness



A blog dedicated to the passage of an immigration reform bill that that is not dictated by fear, bias, bigotry, and exploitation of the worker.People are more important than goods yet we allow the free trade of goods and restrict the movement of workers who make the goods. What is wrong with that?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Feed the Stranded Masses

Floyd Mann and the stranded migrant workers he befriended

The recent record-breaking snow storms in the Pacific Northwest had stranded dozens of Greyhound bus travelers at the Salt Lake Greyhound terminal during the Christmas season. Many travelers, hopeful of reuniting with family and friends, found themselves sleeping in a cold bus terminal lacking the simplest comforts of home. Various agencies in Salt Lake responded with sandwiches, blankets, and cots to get the travelers off the floor.

When I read about the plight of the stranded travelers I thought briefly of driving down to Salt Lake and bringing a few home for a warm meal and a shower. It was only a brief thought. I have a 4 year-old son in our home. I thought about the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping and how her kidnapper originally met her family when the parents brought him home as a cheap laborer to help with a roofing job. The fear was enough to derail any effort to act on my thoughts.

Meanwhile, Floyd Mann of West Valley, Utah had the same urge to help and he acted upon it. He did not let his fears change his desire to help stranded strangers. Mann and a friend, Ron Gilder, drove down to the bus terminal with a load of bottled water, soup, snacks, and paper supplies. They distributed the goods to the grateful multitude of stranded holiday travelers.

While handing out the supplies they discovered that many had been stranded for days, sleeping on the floor and unable to shower. So Floyd asked if anyone wanted to go to his home to shower. Several Spanish-speaking farm and construction workers took him up on his kind offer.

During a time when hate speech against Latino migrants is running rampant through our channels of communication, the English-only speaking Floyd did not hesitate to bring home 11 Spanish-only speaking Latino strangers for a journey that would eventually last 6 days.

The stranded workers were on their way to visit loved ones for Christmas and to secure employment in the northwest. Most had no money to weather out the unexpected prolonged delay by renting a hotel room. Most had no money even for the dollar menu at the hamburger chains. They were stranded for the holidays in a bus terminal in a town of strangers until Floyd Mann came into their lives.

The group was so large that Mr. Mann paid for two cabs to take them to his home in a few miles away. Once there they were able to shower, do laundry, and relax with a hospitality normally reserved for the best of friends. Mr. Mann put together a spread that included sandwiches, soups, and desserts. He then went out to stock up on groceries,beer, and lots of salsa.

Every morning Mr. Mann cooked up eggs, potatoes, and meats to feed his newly found friends. Sometimes he had to make two trips to the store to buy enough groceries to feed the masses.

On Christmas day, Mr. Mann took them all to feast at a local Mexican restaurant.

In return, the workers shoveled the snow that had pounded Mr. Mann's neighborhood as well. They were always asking for chores to do to repay the generosity of their kind host.

What an amazing story of a man who spoke no Spanish taking in 11 stranded Spanish-speaking into his home. An act of unconditional love towards Latino migrant workers during a time when the hate towards them has resulted in fatal hate crimes. One man motivated by his love for others. He was not blind to who they were, they were people in need. There was no skin color or language barrier in the equation. Who they were and what they looked like did not matter to Floyd Mann. They were only fellow humans in need.

We can all learn something from the kindness bestowed from Floyd Mann. I know that I can.

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