After lunch with the brothers last week, I dropped by Publix for a few things for date night.
I put the groceries away and got in the car. Just as I was about to put the Mazda in drive, a woman with the Publix bagger walked in front of the hood. She was motioning me to stop, and she walked around to the driver’s side, so I put the window down.
“This may seem kind of strange, and I’m sorry if I’m bothering you, What size sneaker do you wear?” I was in shorts, with my prosthesis on display, so if there are strange questions, they are usually directed at me.
“Well, I wear a size twelve.”
“Oh,” she said, sadly, “My uncle just passed away and I have several pairs of New Balance sneakers, never been worn. Would you want to take a look just in case?”
“Sure,” I said, not very optimistic they were going to fit. We, this woman with the sneakers, the Publix guy and I walked across the row to her mid-size white SUV, where she popped the back, and sure enough four boxes of 10 1/2s.
She opened up a box and when I looked at them I thought, these might actually fit.
As we looked at the four boxes she said, “my uncle was 81 when he died.”
“Sorry to hear about that,” I said, “My mom died a couple months ago.”
“I’m so sorry. My other uncle and I are going through his things, why don’t you try em on,” she said, so I grabbed a left shoe.
It’s not easy for me to stand up and take my good foot out of a sneaker while balancing on the prosthesis, so I looked at the Publix guy, he was young, with dark hair, but pretty solid in the shoulders. I put my hand on his shoulder, slid the old sneaker off and slipped the new one on. Notice I said slipped, it went on rather easily.
“Wow!” I said, “they fit.”
“Hmm, nice,” the Publix guy said and seeing where this was going, loaded the bags and took the buggy back to the store.
“Oh, I see, they’re extra wides, so I guess that must be it,” I said.
“You see these are brand new, and expensive, here’s the receipt from 2010. I’d rather give them to somebody than to Goodwill. Please take two pairs.”
“This is so kind of you, thanks so much.”
“I’m Debbie, a retired teacher,” she said, ” I’ve lived here my whole life, went to Fairhope High.”
“Thanks Debbie, I’m Alan,” I said, as we shook hands, “my wife’s a school teacher. It’s nice to meet you. I work at the library.”
“I’m so glad I stopped you,” she said.
“Thanks again, come in the library and say hello, you might see a pair on my feet.”
“I might just do that,” Debbie said.
At Publix, shopping is a pleasure and so is giving and receiving.
The post was supposed to end there. However, I’d be derelict in my duties as Stump the Librarian if I did not share this breaking news today from Western Canada. It’s eerily similar. Not really, it’s just eerie, but it involves New Balance sneakers, dismembered feet and it really makes you wonder. My gosh, it even has a Wikipedia page. I’m about to go down this strange rabbit hole. You can join me if you wish, just click on the sneaker below. To make it out safely, don’t forget your rabbit’s foot.
Paying it forward. Nice story of kindness.
What a great story! Empathy reigns in Fairhope Publix – aisle 12.
Ok so I really liked the shoe lady in Publix. Net know where you will find a nice person. And great for you with new sneakers. But 🤪 the Canada story is sketchy. Keep an 👁on the 👟
Such a nice city to score free shoes in a parking lot encounter.
Detached skeleton feet in tennis shoes are a common sight on beach walks in the Northwest: chances are good that they were attached to the rest of the body when they entered the water.
That reminds me of a tradition in neighborhoods where people have died. The tradition is mentioned on Wikipedia in the following unverified post.
“In some neighborhoods, shoes tied together and hanging from power lines or tree branches signify that someone has died. The shoes belong to the dead person. The reason they are hanging, legend has it, is that when the dead person’s spirit returns, it will walk that high above the ground, that much closer to heaven.[verification needed”
Alan I loved the story about Publix and the shoes!! People are good!