Today after renewing my driver’s license, I had an hour to spare and decided to drop by Oak Harbor thrift before coming home. Often I find a few things to purchase while I am there. Today as I was shopping, I looked down at my shoes, and remembered when I got them at another thrift store.
It was about six months ago, and Mom and I were shopping in at Value Village. I was looking for some brown shoes, and after exhausting the puny selection in the women’s department (it is slim pickings for us gals with size 10’s or 11’s), I headed to the men’s section. As I rounded the corner, my eyes glued onto a pair of brown keens on the shelf. I couldn’t tell for sure, but they looked about the right size, and almost new. For those of you who don’t know, I have a thing for Keens. They have room for wide feet, and are very stable, an important thing for people with knee and ankle issues like me. I was making a bee-line for them when a gentleman who looked to be about 60 walked over, picked them up, and after looking them over he dropped them into his basket. My heart sank a little bit.
I told myself that they probably were the wrong size for me anyhow, and that they would fit him. But I couldn’t help but look at his feet. They were about a men’s size 13. Now way those 9’s were going to fit him. I eyed the shoes again; telling myself he must have a son/daughter/wife they were for. I must have had a wistful look on my face or something, because he started chuckling and asked me if I had been eyeing them before he nabbed them. I acknowledged that I had been, but added that since he must have someone in mind to buy them for, he should keep them. “Actually, I don’t!” he laughingly admitted. ” I just like to buy nice shoes and give them to charities that donate clothes to people in need. Here! You try them on. They look about the right size for you.” I tried to convince him it was really ok, but he took them out and put them on the floor next to me, saying “The real reason I buy shoes is because I hate to see them sit here on the shelves, when I know there are people who would be wearing them and appreciating them. If you are one of those people, then nothing would make me happier than for you to buy them, so just try them on.”
I was finally convinced. I put one on, then the other. They were hardly used at all, and the fit perfectly! We were both grinning by this point. After asking if he was sure he didn’t want to buy them for his charity, I thanked him sincerely and gave him a hug. Then I headed up to check-out, my new keens in my basket.
As I remembered this story and that kind man today, I had to smile. These shoes have become one of my favorite pairs; and I do indeed appreciate them.
Today I was hunting for some dress shoes in Oak Harbor thrift, and I was delighted to find a pair of Born sandals, and a pair of Bass shoes as well. Both were my size, and comfortable, and in very nice condition. I was feeling quite pleased with my finds: two pairs of shoes that retail for about $100 each, for only $5 each! I love bargain hunting, and I love thrift stores!
As I was making my way up to check out, an elderly woman was coming down the isle towards me. As she walked by, she admiringly ran a finger down the pair of brown Bass shoes in my basket, and said “Oh my! What a find, do you know how much those cost new? They are beautiful. Sweeheart, if you change your mind about them, you come find me, ok? I will be right over here.” And she turned to walk away. I looked down at the shoes on my feet, thought of the act of kindness that had blessed me, and said “Wait! Would you like to have these? What size do you wear?” And do you know what? They were the perfect size for her.
She teared up as she told me she has foot problems caused by diabetes, and she hasn’t been able to find any shoes that would work for her that she could afford. She had admired the Bass shoes in a catalog, and had come to the thrift store in hopes of finding something similar that she could afford on a fixed income. She said I would never know how much it meant to her. I told her to look at my shoes, and I explained about the kindness of the gentleman who had given them up for me. It was my turn to pay it forward. She smiled and shed a few tears. She gave me a hug, and a kiss on the cheek, and said “Bless you.”
She went home with a wonderful pair of shoes, but I went home with something far better. I was given a gift of love, a gift of sincere gratitude, and the gift of blessing from an elder; three things that are invaluable.