It's been a few unbloggable weeks. The outcome of all that will be good things in the nearish future, but the reality of December has been a lot of tension between D and me. So we weren't in the best of moods Monday when we decided a last-minute trip to replace his formal footwear was necessary. We leave this morning for sixteen days with the family (both sides as usual).
In a break with tradition, my parents decided they wanted to do New Year's Eve in New York City. At Lincoln Center. Which will be amazing and novel and likely a very good time. But we haven't been to any event that posh in years and D was feeling a bit self-conscious about the not-really-formal loafers he'd been wearing with his suit to the last few dress events (weddings where no one would really care what was on his feet). The pair of shoes he bought for our own wedding was destroyed in the Great Deluge of 2008, and we hadn't found the motivation or justification to invest in another. But the upcoming trip seemed like good reason to D. So we headed out, damaged leather in hand, to see if we could find a similar pair from the company that had sold us the first.
The guy behind the counter was chatting with another customer on the way out the door when we arrived, but as soon as he saw our Trader Joe's bag (clearly containing something other than groceries), he asked how he could be of help. We pulled out the shoes and told him what had happened to them.
"You've got to be effing kidding me," he said, turning them over in his hands. We both smiled at his candor. He seemed a bit older than we were, closer to our parents' age, but not quite there yet.
"Can they be repaired?" D asked, with a hopeful look.
The guy inspected the tear by one toe, the creases and abrasions from three days of water-logging. "You hadn't even had them for very long," he clucked. He tapped for a few seconds on his computer keyboard. "What's your address?"
We gave him the information. He hummed a little as he tapped some more, clicked through a screen or two, examined the labeling inside the shoes. At last, the machine spit out a foot of paper, which he folded carefully before handing it across the counter.
"I like you," he said, with an extremely pleased look on his face. "And no, the shoes can't be fixed. But because you are such nice people, a man in brown shorts is going to appear on your doorstep in three days with a brand-new pair of these."
D and I gaped. As far as we were concerned, we had not been very nice people for most of the day. But, it seemed, the universe had decided at that moment to send us some love anyway.
We thanked the man profusely. "No, no," he said, "I'm happy to do it. I figure the last thing you need to worry about replacing after an ordeal like that is a pair of shoes."
He couldn't have known that the incident in question had happened two years prior. And he couldn't have known what these last weeks had actually been like, bloggable or otherwise. But his wanting so much to give us a bright spot in our day was what touched me. It couldn't have come at a better time, refreshing my view on life when I needed that most.
So thank you again, sir. You did more than I think you realized. Or maybe you knew. Either way, I'll have this memory as I head off into the holiday. Despite what this month has largely been, I can say, because of your kindness, that I feel more optimistic about what remains.
To Insist That Sorrow Not Be Meaningless
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