You may not believe it, but here's the story:
I was out entertaining my daughter and thought I'd drop by a Goodwill on the way back home. I've been looking for a suit appropriate for job interviews and I've had no luck finding my size so far. Now, this particular store has had a pair of Alden loafers sitting on display for about a month now, priced at $60 and in my size. Being out of work, my budget is tight and I have to keep my priorities: Suit first. Of course I was going to look at the display regardless, in hopes that the price had dropped. My daughter and I walked through the door at the same time as this old lady who also happened to walk towards the same display area. The loafers were still there and still $60. My daughter is a very talkative 3 year old and she asks if I'm going to buy them. I respond "No not today, maybe next time." The old lady who walked in with us noticed and she asked why I was putting them back. I explained that I needed to find a suit for a job interview before I could drop any money on shoes. She understood and wished me good luck.
After a few minutes, as I searched the suits, the same lady strolled by and made further inquiry as to my search: the size, color, etc... She looked through a few with me, mentioned the variety of shirts available on the other rack ("nice ones like Jos A Banks"), and then wished me luck again as she continued her own searching. After completely checking the entire rack I still had not yet found my size and decided to check out slacks and shirts. About 10 minutes later the lady finds me and is walking towards me... with Aldens in hand. "Kick your shoes off and see how these fit," she orders. "I'msorryexcusemewhat?" I stammer. She intently restated, "Kick your shoes off and let's see how these fit, we want to make sure". What could I do? I leaned down slowly, untied and removed my left tennis shoe to slip on one of the loafers... like a glove it was. "Go ahead and try on the other one, let's make sure". My daughter pipes up intermittently throughout this scene, "why does he have to take his shoes off? why does he have to try both of them? where's your mommy at?" So, deciding that the shoes are a match, she informs me, "I've already spoken to the manager and I worked out a good price. Don't worry about it. I've had angels watching out for me through tough times and I believe in paying it forward. You just make sure I can find you in a few minutes". I didn't know what to say. "Just say thank you and make sure you pay it forward when you can. And make sure to stay put so I can find you in a minute!".
I was in shock. My daughter asked me question after question and I could only nod and "uh huh" in response. The lady returned a moment later and I didn't know whether to hug or kiss her or what. So, I meekly reached out to take the bag, feeling so undeserving, then shook her hand and said thank you. She said the receipt was in the bag in case an employee asked, but I needn't look at it myself (and I still haven't). She waved goodbye as she hurriedly walked off and said "God bless".
Since then I've wondered what to make of this kindness. I don't feel like I did anything special to deserve such a fine gift from a complete stranger. I guess that's what makes it kindness. You see a need, you have the means, you make the choice. I've been thinking of a way to "pay it forward" to someone, and get others involved as well, in the vein of clothing and style since this is a passion of mine. If anyone can offer ideas (other than "I need your Aldens") I'd love to hear them.
Here they are after their cream polish. The heel has apparently been re-crafted before being donated and the sole is only moderately scuffed. The trees came with.