By this time tomorrow, Sarah will be on her way to the Gulf Coast to volunteer for three weeks with the American Red Cross.

So far, all we know is that she is going to “New Orleans.” Of course, she could get there and immediately get shipped off to Baton Rouge, Texas, or some other location where the Red Cross needs help. Apparently, most of the Red Cross work at this point revolves around feeding people displaced by the hurricanes and what they call “bulk distribution.” According to Sarah, bulk distribution means driving a truck full of donated food, water, pots, pans, or anything else donated to the Red Cross in large numbers. Once the truck reaches a designated location, volunteers unload the truck and its contents are distributed to the needy. She doesn’t know yet if she’ll have a cot in a gymnasium, a hotel room, or something in between. Apparently, Red Cross accomodations for volunteers run the gamut.

Generally, people have been supportive of Sarah. Her co-workers, teachers, and fellow students have all accomodated her sudden departure in gracious, helpful ways.

Others, however, have been full of doom and gloom towards some mysterious end. They insist that crime is rampant on the Gulf Coast and that she’ll be going to a location only slightly safer than downtown Baghdad. They remind and badger her about constantly minding her safety, traveling in groups, and trusting no one. In short, they treat her like she’s a naive 15 year-old off to the Big City for the first time, rather than a mature woman who has been all over the US and the world. They seem to forget that the Red Cross isn’t necessarily in the business of sending its volunteers into dangerous locations. In addition, what is the point of telling her that she’ll be walking into an urban Vietnam? To make the ones sitting safely at home feel better about themselves? “Well, we’re not going, but we did our part by telling her unsubstantiated horror stories.”

Nice. Real nice.

It’s good to know that you can always count on some people for deconstructive moral support.

While she’s gone, Dalla, Ira, and I will hold down the fort in Madison. I’m sure that the two of us who aren’t reptiles will miss her. The house will certainly be quieter as a result.