I love the bargains at Goodwill, but I really go there for the selection. While most department stores have a handful of styles in my size (little-bitty), at Goodwill there are DOZENS of options. They have the clothes all sorted by color, which I guess kind of makes sense. This does explain why everything I have bought at Goodwill is some shade of brown. By the time I get through the brown rack, I have either found something to try on or exhausted myself looking.

The first thing I saw when I walked into the store today was a woman browsing the book section. She was flipping through a book whose cover I could see clearly. “Money Secrets the Pros Don’t Want You to Know.” I headed toward the familiar rack of brown pants but found my eyes wandering. Two men in long coats walked down the aisle of kitchenware. I watched as one of them accidently knocked a couple of things off a low shelf with his coat. He briefly looked back at the floor and then just kept going.

A woman carrying two pair of pink shoes caught my eye. I glanced at her feet and the rest of her outfit, which gave no indication of this penchant for pastels. I watched her go back and forth a couple of times between the shoe racks (also arranged by color) and a shopping cart. She picked out a few things, then put them back on the rack. After a couple of minutes, I stepped in beside her.

“I would never think to buy pink shoes,” I said. She smiled. “I know, but they do make a statement.” I laughed. “I’m not sure that’s the statement I want to make!” She laughed, too. Then I told her, “I wouldn’t have guessed you like pink so much.” “Yeah,” she said. “I guess my taste really is more conservative.” She pointedly regarded her gray sweatpants and black shoes.

A penchant for pink

We talked a bit more; there was something so sweet about this woman and her easy, engaging manner. I found myself checking my pocket to make sure I really had a C-note in there. Then I told her my name and that I had something I wanted to give to her. “Is that okay, if I give you something?” She said it was. “This is for you.” I handed her the bill and she looked at it, then at me. “Oh, my,” she said. A question was forming in her eyes but she just kept looking at me. Finally she said, “I guess I’m at a loss for words! Why?”

I told the woman that my mom had died not too long ago, and had left me an unexpected gift. And that I was making some gifts in return and something about her had just touched my heart. “This is unbelievable,” she said. “Can I give you a hug?” She gave me a big hug and then told me she was very sorry about my mom. She said she lost both her parents and a brother in a three-year period and it was really hard. “You just have to live your life, I mean really live, not take it for granted,” she told me. “It’s easier with time, but you never really get over it.”

She told me her name was Leslie and that her son had recently messed up his shoes and needed a new pair. She sent him $50. “But that was bill money, you know? So I was short, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it up. This is amazing, thank you so much.”

Leslie wanted to introduce me to her husband, whom I recognized from my earlier wanderings around the store. She told him what happened and he shook my hand and thanked me. “I pray every day for God to make me humble,” he said. “And things always work out.”

Leslie and her husband, Otho

Leslie told me that our encounter had made a big impact on her and that she would never forget it, ever. She hugged me again and wished me comfort in grieving the loss of my mother.

I didn’t end up buying anything at Goodwill today. I’m promising myself that next time I’m going to start with pink.

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8 Responses to Leslie at Goodwill

  1. Oh, how simply WONDERFUL!! I love the picture of her holding her pink shoes. I was wondering, do you tell the people you meet that you have a blog? Just curious! I bet you will have a ton of followers if all the people you have helped tell everyone how wonderful you were and then they all start reading your blog too!

    • Jill Ginsberg says:

      Hi and thanks for the comment! I always ask for permission if I take a photo and tell people that I write about my experiences and make sure they’re ok with me publishing the photo online. Sometimes I tell them about the blog, which has led to some amazing connections (like hearing from Christina’s mother and cousin and friend). Sometimes I don’t; it just depends on what feels right (or if I have paper and a pen on hand!). I’m getting some little cards printed up with the URL; I think that will help. I’ll just keep a stash in my pocket. Thanks for reading!

  2. Susan says:

    OK…I do love pink shoes (and red)… and I own very little brown (a lot of black, though)…
    There is a new Good Will in Paramus, I’ve been curious to pop in, but the recent hype and hysteria on “bed bugs” has kept me away… (I know they can also be in new clothes) AND
    you just continue to amaze me… You have a natural gift of getting people to engage you…which is my favorite part of reading your blog – your interaction!

  3. Pru McDonald says:

    Such SWEET, kind faces! Leslie and her husband, Otho… another worthy recipient! You are AMAZING at picking them, Jill. And good for considering pink! Color does make a statement, while lifting our spirits on gloomy January days! Pru

    p.s. (Browns and blacks and grays tend to hide our personalities, while color greets the world with a friendly “Hello!”)

  4. susannah says:

    That is soooo nice of you to help so many people! I’m in creative writing class with miss Dickson she told me you talked to her!!!!! thats soooo cool we are making blogs in class I’m in 6th grade [12 years old], wish me luck! From Susannah:]

    • Jill Ginsberg says:

      Thank you, Susannah! It’s very nice of you to write. Good luck with your blog! I would like to see it! Jill

  5. Lois Roelofs says:

    Jill — Just checking in on your new site and reading about your 2011 giving goals. As a nurse, I really love the human connections you are making. The people you’re meeting remind us not to prejudge and that there is goodness in everyone. Lois

  6. Jill Ginsberg says:

    Dear Lois- Thank you so much for checking in and for your comment. In your work, you know all about making these connections. I find it impossible to keep the judgements from bubbling up, but am learning to let them run their course without getting in my way. As much. Jill

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