A Different View

Many years ago I worked at a hair salon in a busy mall. I remember it was November, cold and rainy... I was sitting at the front desk and looked up to see a man in his 30's and three kids. The oldest girl was carrying some shopping bags. She looked to be about 12 and the youngest boy looked like he might have been 5 or 6. The little guy was barefoot. I remember thinking .. that poor kid! His dad shouldn't have brought him out barefoot in this weather!

They were coming from Mervyn's heading fast towards Sears. The phone rang and I forgot about them. A short while later they were quickly walking back towards Mervyn's when all of a sudden Dad made the little boy sit on the floor and he looked around and began trying to jam an obviously too small shoe on the boy's foot. He stood up shoved the shoe back in the bag, took the boy by the hand and this time went into Mervyn's.

It was so very obvious what was happening at this point. Dad shoplifted shoes from Sears that were too small and was diving in for a second round of debauchery at Mervyn's.

Not five minutes later they walked past the salon again and the boy had shoes on his feet. I watched as a security guard from Mervyn's caught up with the family and gently put his hand on Dad's shoulder. They had a quiet conversation and then the family began moving towards Mervyn's this time with a security escort.

When this happened many years ago I was livid that this father would take his kids with him to steal. I went into Mervyn's with the intent to pay for the boys shoes but could not find them (or anyone who would tell me anything). I was so angry and so sad at the same time.

As I sit here after a few years of working with those struggling in severe poverty or living on the streets I have gained a new perspective. It saddens me still thinking of those kids who watched their Dad get arrested but the anger is gone. I'm not angry at Dad anymore, who was I to judge why he did what he did? I am sad that a man had to go to such lengths to put shoes on his son's feet. I wonder at the thoughts going through his head, I think of how he must have felt... less than a man perhaps because he couldn't provide even the basic needs of his family?

In a society of such abundance, I am saddened that a young boy went barefoot in November and his Daddy had to steal him a pair of shoes.