Forget First Impressions

Size 15 shoes!

We all know we shouldn’t judge people by our first impressions. That’s what I should have remembered when we pulled up to a men’s mission in Salt Lake City. Normally I have no apprehension being with homeless men, drug addicts or even gang members. But I did get a few butterflies when I saw some of the men waiting in line to come in and get their new shoes. There seemed to be a “scarier” element than I was used to. Visually they looked more down and out than men at other shelters, plus many were pacing and talking to themselves in a very agitated state. Yet within a few minutes of being with these men, I knew I had misjudged them. As I fitted each person for shoes, we had friendly banter and communication. One man, as he was taking off his old shoes said, “I apologize. My feet will probably stink when I take off these ratty shoes.” I simply told him I was used to Allan’s smelly feet. We laughed like old friends. Many of the men wore shoes way too small. As we got them fitted with the correct size, they all said, “It’s so nice to be able to wiggle my toes!” Another man came in and quietly said, “You probably don’t have any size 15 shoes.” “Size 15?” I said. “Ha! We even have size 16!” He was so happy to have a pair of high quality shoes that fit. He returned a few minutes later and told me how he wanted to thank us again, because his new shoes were waterproof and also had arch support. He beamed as he walked away.

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