Okay, I admit it. I’m a thrift store junkie. So when I go to my fave beach town, I make sure to stop at every thrift store at least once. That makes for six stops, nine if I venture down to Carmel.
This trip I stayed in my town. I wandered into Second Chance and found a rack of children’s shoes out front marked .20 a pair. This had to be an error. Yet ten pink signs said the same thing – twenty cents.
I bought a few items for my sister and myself, checked with the cashier about the price of kids’ shoes, and then went back to my car, where I’d left my phone. I called my neighbor across the street and asked her if she still made trips to Peru with the dentist. He did free check-ups while she translated for him. The patients were rewarded with clothing, shoes, and toys. But Maria is in her mid-seventies, so I wasn’t sure if she was still going.
“The shoes are twenty cents a pair,” I said. “Do you want them?”
I had to repeat it. The price was so unbelievable. Maria said she would run down and buy them.
“That’s silly,” I said. “I am already here. I will buy them for you.”
When I went back to Second Chance to buy the shoes, the clerk told me that they often give away kids’ stuff to charities. She told me to have my neighbor call the store and to ask for the manager, Michelle.
Then I went to the Goodwill and saw a sign in the window that said, “Life with Purpose is the Purpose of Life.” Since my beach house is filled with signs, I had to have it. After all, I’d found my purpose long ago when I decided to teach. Little did I know back then that you’re still a teacher long after you leave the classroom.
I got to Maria’s house with fourteen pairs of shoes for the Ecuadoran and Peruvian children. She tried to pay me, but I said no. She instead rewarded me with homemade jam, freshly-baked lemon bars, and cuttings from her cactus garden.
“I think I made out better than you did,” I said. “I only spent three dollars.”
Before I left, Maria and her husband showed me three handmade quilts she had made, a table she had painted with intricate designs, a photograph she was entering into a contest, and a dozen other things.
When I emerged from their front gate, the grouchy next-door neighbor was wheeling her garbage can to the curb. Perfect! I got to tell her about the tree guys coming on Friday without having to make a phone call. And the grouchy neighbor got lemon bars, too. Everyone won.
All because of two bags of shoes in a thrift store.
With an amazing sale.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
I came. I shopped. I bought shoes.