The lady who ran off with the shoes today, I had seen her before. It all crystalized as she sauntered away ...
She was the same woman who cussed me out a few months ago. And I'm talking mean. More expletives than I've ever heard. She seemed so crazy that day that I assumed mental illness and/or drug use.
But then, today.
That same woman stealthily snuck up to our "shoe dump" (where we give out donated shoes our friend Steve collects for us) and started grabbing. One, two, then ten or twelve pairs she was holding! All the while so many others are standing around wanting shoes. I was flabbergasted.
But I remembered last time, so ever so timidly, I approached. "Hi. Could you please not take so many? We want everyone to get shoes."
Silence. So I said it again. Nothing back. And in no time she was off. With all dozen pair of shoes.
That would be where this story would end. Except for Pat.
Pat is the woman who keeps our hood clean. She doesn't get paid to do it. When Pat is sick or out of town, this is what the neighborhood looks like:
Pat is feisty. She doesn't let people mess with her and she takes care of everybody. She also requires that people pick up after themselves. She better not catch you throwing your trash on the ground!
Pat runs up to me five minutes later, scolding: "Elisabeth, you can't do that. Why you let that woman run off with those shoes?"
"I didn't Pat. I asked her to leave them here. She wouldn't listen to me. And she has cussed me out before so I wasn't going to mess with her."
Pat continued, "She did? Oh no. Well she can't do that. That's not right." And with that Pat was off ...
As we pushed the coffee cart down the way, the whole neighborhood was in a tizzy. Everyone was talking about the lady who ran off with the shoes.
Thirty minutes later, it happened. Pat came back, and she didn't come back empty handed. Pat had all of the stolen shoes in her hands. She had tracked that lady down, and I don't know what she did or how she did it, but she got those shoes back.
That woman had been trying to sell them for $5 to get money for drugs. Someone shook their head and said, "What people will do for drugs."
As Pat returned, the whole neighborhood cheered. Really. And Pat started dishing out shoes to people who didn't get them. It was a glorious community moment.
Then in no time at all, Pat was back to her unpaid job, picking up trash after all of us.
A bad day for swindlers. A good day for saints.