Walking (& Dancing) in Other People’s Shoes


Recently, in the span of a week-and-a-half, I had cause to borrow shoes from two different people I barely know on two separate occasions. Remarkably, they both offered them up to me without hesitation. I was fairly astonished by this, admittedly in part because I’m not sure if I would have done the same for them, had the shoe been on the other foot (so to speak). That is not to say that I’m resistant to being readily helpful to others in need. I merely mean that… I’m not sure I would have even thought of it. Surely no one would want to wear my shoes.

So… I’m thinking these experiences were set in motion to remind me that: 1) Some people really do have a natural inclination to be kind to others; 2) People I don’t know well seem to trust me with their personal belongings, therefore… they must think well of me — at least to some degree — which is really nice to know; 3) I shouldn’t be too possessive of the things I have that can be offered to others; 4) Gee… I really need to remember to bring my own shoes with me! (An ounce of prevention….)


SHOE-OFFERING SITUATION #1:

As is my weekly routine, I showed up at the gym on Thursday ready to change out of my work clothes for my Zumba class. Unfortunately, it was only as I was walking toward the door to the gym that I realized I’d left my sneakers at home. Now I stood there slouching in frustration knowing there were only 20 minutes left before class. That wouldn’t be enough time for me to drive home and back and change clothes before my class started.

My look of disappointment must have been quite apparent. It only took a couple of seconds before I heard “Something wrong?”. The question was asked by a trainer standing behind the check-in desk. I frowned at her. “Yeah. I can’t believe it. I totally forgot my sneakers. Now I can’t do Zumba… or anything else.” My grumpy face was hard to hide. It had been a long day. I had been looking forward to working off some unnecessary grumpy energy in class. Now, I was going to have to just go home and be grumpy until bedtime, when I could finally put the day behind me.

But wait! No! A look of “I’m thinking…” appeared on her face. Was it possible that the gym kept spare shoes available “in the back” somewhere for grumpy, sneaker-less people like me? Maybe there was hope for me after all!

“What size do you wear?” she finally asked me. “Six.” I frowned, but with a tinge of hopefulness in my raised eyebrows. The “I’m thinking” face thought again. Then she spoke, “I wear a seven. Do you want to try mine, or do you think that’s skanky?” She bent down and began unlacing the shoes from her feet before I even responded. This is when the choir of angels in my head joyfully began singing “Hallelujah!”

What a relief! I smiled excitedly at her, and I may have even jumped up and down a little. (May as well get my grumpy blood pumping before class.) “Just leave them here when you go,” she told me, without a care. I thanked her profusely and, in the end, all I had to do was stuff the toe a bit.

Final Thoughts: Her shoes were all-black and much lighter weight than mine, with a flatter heel. They were comfortable and felt like dance shoes; however, although I was thrilled to be wearing them for class, I’m not sure I’d want to wear them every week — if they were my own. They didn’t quite offer the support or spring-in-my-step that I need when I’m on the move. Still… when you’ve gotta get your Zumba on, they’re a good-to-have.


SHOE-OFFERING SITUATION #2:

It was Saturday. Earlier in the week, on Sunday, I had gone to the pool for the first time this summer, for which I had used my dance bag to hoist all my seasonal items — towels and sunscreen and a water bottle and a book and sunglasses and… somehow, through the course of the week, I (apparently) never quite reloaded my dance bag with my usual dance items. And now I was standing at the doorway of my last ballet class of the spring session, shoeless. Once again.

And, once again, I frowned, puckering up my lips with a look of despair, “I don’t have my shoes.” My instructor took the opportunity to scold me, “Well, you can’t dance in here without shoes.” I hung my head and shook it, “I know.” She laughed, “Oh, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter. Come on in.” Simultaneously, from across the room, two fellow students standing at the barre motioned their arms at me.

One shouted, “I have socks. They’re new. Do you want my socks?” Without hesitating, she approached the bench that held her own, fully stocked dance bag and began rummaging around for socks. She pulled out a handful of thick wooly things that still had tags on them.

Meanwhile, the other one at the barre was saying, “I have ballet shoes you can wear. They’re old and holey, but they’re shoes. I wear a seven, if that helps.” She was planning to take the entire class en pointe, anyway, so she didn’t need them herself that day.

(Side note: There goes that size 7 again!)

She prompted me further, “You can pull the strings tighter if it helps. I don’t mind.”

“Hmm… okay, I’ll try them,” I agreed, and thanked the sock woman for her own offering, noting that I’d keep her in mind for Plan B.

Luckily, the old, holey shoes worked out well enough. Sure, at times, my toes were poking out of the holes… but hey! They were still, functionally, ballet shoes!

Final Thoughts: I can’t believe this forgetting-of-shoes is becoming a new habit of mine. Clearly, I need to organize my belongings better to accommodate my mental lapses.

And yet…

It’s been interesting wearing other shoes here and there. It’s given me a little insight into these two kindhearted ladies — and I don’t mean just their kindness. I mean what their shoes say about them. The trainer’s shoes were as light as her spirit has always appeared, as well as stylish and trendy. The dancer’s old, holey shoes seemed to signify the dedication and amount of time she puts into honing her craft. They also suggested that she likes to hold onto things she values (even when they’re beyond repair), and possibly that she tends to save her money for rainy days, and make do with what she’s got till then.

I’d also like to note that both of these women offered up items that they thought I might disapprove of because of the condition they were in. It serves as a good reminder that even if you view your own belongings as shabby or tainted, someone else might still find value in them… and their condition doesn’t render the mere, generous offering of them invalid. We must always remain open to receiving what others are willing and able to give us.

In the end, I must say… it’s kinda nice to know that the road I’m walking is being traveled by such generous, interesting spirits.

(Yea! Lucky #7!)

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