17 minutes ago
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Today as I was walking to school with my children, someone I know called out to me, and as I turned to greet him, I twisted my foot on the rocky road and broke my shoe. I was almost at the gate and didn't have time to go back home, especially since going home at this point would involve shuffling in a broken shoe. I wasn't going to go barefoot on the road. Look at the photo, which shows the back gate to the school. You can see that there is not just dirt, but serious trash, some of it very nasty and odoriferous. Instead I kept shuffling in the direction I'd already been headed.
All morning, I dealt with my broken shoe. When I walked around the campus, I kept the intact shoe on my foot and carried the other one. When I was teaching, I just took my shoes off completely. I don't think I've ever taught barefoot before but it is not at all unpleasant. (I try to be barefoot as much as possible.)
As I looked at those shoes, I thought, My goodness. Those are in horrible condition. I can't believe I haven't already thrown them away! They were far from new. Unusually for me, I actually remember where I got them. In February 2009 I went to Florida to attend a teacher retreat with a friend. While I was at her house, she gave me a bunch of shoes to take home. Most of them I gave away when I got back to Haiti, but these were really comfortable flip-flop style shoes in black leather and they went with everything. I have worn them a lot, often for walking on that road to school (see photo again), and they were dirty and scratched as well as broken.
As I waited in line for lunch, I showed my shoe to the receptionist from the school office. She immediately told me to take it off and said she'd get it fixed for me. Not only that, she went and found me another pair of shoes to wear. (Talk about resourceful!) They were a little big, but they were much nicer than the ones I had been wearing.
Just over two hours later, during my free period, I went to the office for some other reason, and the receptionist handed me a bag with my shoes in it. She'd had them fixed on the street. They looked like new. Not only was the broken part fixed, but the shoes had been cleaned up and polished. Price: fifty gourdes, just a little bit over one US dollar.
And to think I was going to throw them away. I don't live in a disposable society. (Yes, I know there is trash in the road, but that's because there is nowhere else for most people to put it. Haitians make far less trash than Americans do.) How often do I give up too quickly on a person or a situation, when just a little more effort, or maybe even just asking for help instead of trying to handle things myself because I'm too proud to admit I need other people, could bring a solution? This is what I thought about as I walked home in my "new" shoes.