Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not a quilting story...

...but worth telling anyway.

Okay, so you already know about my addiction to thrift stores.  I had some time to kill tonight, and already in the neighbourhood because I had missed my turn-off on the naturally I KNEW I was MEANT to go thrift shopping.

I've been looking for a trench coat for weeks, and not had any luck.  But tonight, I found a brand new Simon Chang coat, just like this except in a celery green colour (one of my favourite colours!!!). 

Here's what increases the awesomeness:
1. It was $19.99
2. It was brand new, with the package of replacement buttons still attached, in mint condition.
3.  I found a used one on eBay for $115 US, used.
4. I had a $5 off coupon in my purse.
5. It fit perfectly.
6. I'm cute as a button in it!

So, I'm trying it on, looking in the mirror, turning back and forth, pretty sure I was going to buy it, and a young man (maybe 20?) who was holding a couple of coats came up to the mirror and said, "Yeah, that looks good on you.  Which one of these do you think I should get?" And he tried on each coat, and I advised him as to which one I liked better: "get the red one" I said.  Hubby said "yeah, I like the red one."

I laughed and told him to ask someone younger, because we were old, and he seemed to like the brown coat better, and didn't want him to make a choice he'd regret later.

I asked him if he was a student.  He said he had just arrived in town, because he wanted to go to the nearby bible college, and become a pastor.  But for now, he was homeless, and needed a coat because he was going to be on the streets for a little while.  My impression was that the kid might be struggling with a mental health issue, or an addiction, and not fully embodying my image of a bible college student, if you know what I'm getting at...

(***you should note that I don't identify as a Christian person, and not particularly religious, although I am fascinated by, and respectful of all faiths, and spirituality is healthy - - it's just not something I ascribe to)

I asked him if he knew about the local youth shelter.  He said he did, but he wasn't interested in going to a shelter.  He assured me he would figure something out.

I continued my shopping, and paid for my purchases.  As I was leaving, I saw the kid walk over to a mirror with two employees of the thrift store, and model the two coats for them to get an opinion.  I heard them both tell him "red".  That struck me as cute, so I went over, and without even thinking about it, the words "I want to buy that coat for you" came out of my mouth.  I swear it wasn't a conscious thought.  

He thanked me, and I said, "my pleasure, it's my opportunity to pay it forward"

Then one of the employees said, "I will sell you this coat for half off.  This is an opportunity for me to pay it forward too" and walked me over to the closest cashier and explained to the clerk to apply this discount.

While she was ringing me through, I gave the young man my business card, and told him to call me if I could do anything for him.  He smiled and asked if he could write down his website for me.  I pulled out my notebook, and the cashier gave him a pen.

Then he said "I want you to hear something.  I got to pay it forward today too" and pulled out his cell phone and played a voice mail message for us to hear, saying "this guy gave me a ride today".

I'll paraphrase:

"Nathaniel, it was great meeting you today.  I wanted you to know how much it meant to me to hear about God's love for me. I really needed to hear that today, because I was going to go home tonight and end my life.  I feel like God sent you my way, and I'm really grateful.  Thank you.  All the best to you on your journey."

The clerk and other shoppers and staff around us heard the message, and many were visibly moved by the interaction.  I asked Nathaniel if I could drop him somewhere, but he said he was heading in a different direction.  So I said goodbye, and headed out the door.  I will never forget the expression of the people around us.  

So glad I missed my turn off on the highway, and went shopping.  I got a great coat, that I'm sooooooo pleased with, and a half a dozen other people--I'm certain--are inspired to spread some kindness to others, and continue to pay it forward.  What a super cool experience.