I am useless when I’m hungry.
When I was a student, I volunteered for an organisation called The Oaktree Foundation. They run an annual fundraiser called Live Below the Line. The fundraiser is for an undoubtedly good cause – aiding those living under the poverty line and empathising with their situation – but it’s also a special kind of torture, if we’re going to be honest here. You see, participants need to spend a week or more where their meals can add up to only $2 a day.
That’s a week or more of agonising over every gram and every cent of every meal. A week or more of having my saliva ducts set off by anything and everything from the fruity scent of my shampoo to the spelling of my surname. A week or more of savouring every bite, every flavour, every moment my stomach was full.
The first time I participated was in its inaugural year so I made the mistake of doing that week alone. My manager was so fed up (
ha pun) with my grumpy disposition within our first shift together that she begged me to let her feed me.
“Donate to my page instead,” I huffed.
“But you can give food to the poor,” she reasoned. “Why can’t I do the same for you?”
“Because, ok? It’s just… That’s not how it works!” I cried out, scurrying off to fold more jeans before I snapped at her or burst into tears.
As it turns out, hunger makes me surprisingly emotional. At the time, it was also hard to identify what those emotions were exactly on an empty stomach. Was I angry? Was I sad? I couldn’t pinpoint anything beyond feeling “not good.”