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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

The Shoe & Sandal Man Part 2

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Yesterday's post (3/16/2022) covers Part 1 of this story. It would be best to read it first so this post makes more sense. Thank you for reading!

It felt like he gave me the once over, but then gave me the most beautiful smile with gleaming white teeth and said that the shoes were for his villagers in his small African town in a thick Nigerian accent. He added that most women there have never owned or had ever worn a pair of shoes or sandals. At that moment, I found my answer in celebrating my Birthday. My heart was pounding as I knew I would pay for this man’s two carts of shoes, and in effect provide some safe footwear to many barefoot women of Africa.

It was a definite Happy Birthday to me (in November)!

When our conversation got around to whether or not this kind man would be able to haul all those shoes back to Africa, he said he was confident that he would be able to do so. (I assumed he had other travel companions in the states that he would be traveling back with at some point).

We chatted for several more minutes about his African country before he got back to finishing up his shoe/sandal shopping. Since I felt that this story was in the red on the kind meter, I decided to watch him for another half hour. That’s how long it took him to fill the two large shopping carts in his possession. I also noticed he was more particular in selecting the footwear while filling that second cart, hence the extra 30 minutes. I didn’t mind one bit!

Once he was done shopping and headed to the cashier line to grab the first cart, I swooped in and told him I wanted to pay for all the shoes. Yep, two cartsful of women’s footwear. It took him a few moments to comprehend what I just said, and when he realized what I planned to do, he burst into tears. He began giving me blessings in his native language. He couldn’t thank me enough (but he did by repeating Thank you!). The gentle soul of a man couldn’t believe his luck! Let’s face it; it was my lucky day!

When I think back to that day after paying for this man’s two carts of shoes and sandals, I floated out of the store with nary a purchase for myself. Frankly, I did not have the time with all the reconnaissance needed to execute my idea.

Keeping the whole thing a secret for years happens to rate being one of the best birthdays ever. I was squealing in delight the entire drive home. I wanted to savor the moment and knew it would be sweeter not to share it for a while.

For a long time, whenever I needed a pick-me-up thought, my mind always returned to the shoe and sandal man and his two shopping carts filled to beyond the brim. I don’t know who was more inspired, the shoe man or me? I’m going to bet on all my shoes and sandals; it was me!

PS Happy St. Patrick's Day to a lucky you today and every day!



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