When I Was Starving: A Gratitude Letter

Trigger Warning: I write about starving literally, not figuratively or poetically.

I was on my own at age sixteen, and by seventeen, I was struggling. Hard. I worked at a Wendy’s for $5.15 an hour (circa 2001) and I often had to choose to pay my car insurance instead of pay for groceries. My car was my lifeline in a small town with no bus system and endless empty dirt roads (quite rural). If I had no car, I could easily end up stranded, with no job, and in an even worse position.

So I often went without.

I was 5’9 tall, 110 pounds, and losing weight. The girls around me were not kind. “You are soooo skinny,” they would say as if they just bit into a lemon. “Eat a sandwich!

And I would think:

Ya, I would if I had the freakin’ money for it!!!

I couldn’t tell them what was going on: that I was literally starving. It wasn’t a diet choice, it was poverty. But they already bullied me. Already were envious without question. I couldn’t open up to them about something I found so shameful.

One of the Wendy’s daytime managers, an older woman, would often make me clock out but keep working through my break. I didn’t know this was illegal. I was a sheltered seventeen year old with no one to tell ~ you see, my parents were not in the picture at all then. And some people took advantage of this, as she did. So, I would work through my break without taking so much as a sip of water. I didn’t have money to buy anything, but I think water would have helped.

By 3pm, I would feel faint. Cramped. Hunger hurts. It was TORTURE smelling all the food around me. One day, I happened to glance down at the food in the garbage can… and it seemed delicious and tempting.

What had become of me? I felt so humiliated πŸ˜”

He Was a Light Through the Dark Clouds

Then came you: an ordinary man, a regional manager who noticed something was wrong. Out of all the people around me, you were the only one who noticed me.

“If you make it yourself, you can have a free meal a day,” you said.

Oh, my goodness! I could have food!! I could have free food!!!

So, every day after work, I would go into the kitchen area, make myself a little burger and some fries (no more, because I didn’t want you to change your mind) and then I would go home and EAT. Eat!!! Oh, my goodness the food was so heavenly. On the days when I grabbed nuggets, I savored every little crunchy bite dipped carefully into the sugary bbq sauce.

Having at least one meal a day helped me out SO MUCH! I will never forget you, even though it’s been so many years that I unfortunately forgot your name. You saw me in a bad spot and didn’t sneer at my weight, didn’t take advantage of my helplessness, but instead… you chose to help.

God bless you, wherever you are! From you I learned at seventeen to not just look at people, but to see them. Not to assume or assign malice to them because of what they look like, but to notice them, talk to them, listen to them… and help them 😌

Thank you.

Happy (and fed!) in my Wendy’s uniform, with my sister’s Baby Bear who is a Big Bear now! 😁

And thank you for reading, God bless!

Yari, the ✿ Lovely Panda Mom ✿


  1. What a beautiful story, and lesson. My boyfriend was once in a similar position–6’4″, 140lbs and starving, with no one to turn to… and too young and naive to figure out a solution. While I try to *really* see people, I do wonder how many people I pass by that could use a little extra help. It makes my heart ache to think of all the people who are doing their best to get by, but still struggling.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thanks for that heartfelt story. We all need to show the compassion of Jesus. I found myself in similar circumstances at 17. Suddenly I had no place to live. No car so I bought one for $200. Different people would let me sleep on the couch for several days to several months. I was severely underweight and starving all the time. I worked at McDonalds and they too gave me a free meal a day. Praise God! He always came through.


    Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re putting these posts out at a rate that I can barely keep up with πŸ˜„

    I find it interesting how much our early years influence our outlook on life and gratitude. I never did go hungry but spaghetti and ketchup, frozen food, tinned food were all I ever got and it fills me with so much gratitude that I can eat whatever, whenever today. Thanks to my childhood, I can sit down happily for every meal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, maybe I should space them out a bit. It’s because Baby Bear has been napping like a pro, so I’ve gotten more time to write this past month 😁

      And yes, those years are so formative. Sounds like you had it rough too, and I wish I could go back in time and hug little you ❀️ But it’s wonderful to hear that in the end, it’s made you a more grateful person 😊πŸ₯°

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for sharing this amazing story of being seen by someone who decided to help!! You know, I’m sadly not surprised that the women you worked with were mean about it; I feel like women focus on other women’s weight and can be so judgmental. Yet, you never know what a person is going through, and this story proves just that! What an amazing regional manager – an angel in disguise! ❀ Food is something we all should be grateful for when we have it, because many don’t have that luxury!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you ❀️ The focusing and commenting on people’s weight is something I wish wasn’t so prevalent among women, especially young women πŸ’” Yes he was great! He was very nice overall 😊 And I definitely agree- food is something we should always give thanks for πŸ™Œβœ¨

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh dear one 😒 I’m truly sorry you went through that. And I’m angered 😑 that an adult took advantage of you, by making you clock out for your break, and not being able to take an *actual break* ⏱️ Even if you sat outside or in your car, just a break from work, a break from the noise and environment. ✝️ Super grateful 🌼 for that regional manager who *SAW YOU* πŸ‘€ and who offered advice and help. Glad you can grow from that experience. May the days ahead be better. πŸ’•πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s