My husband Dan and I were standing around the kitchen island having breakfast the other day and out of nowhere he turned to me and asked do you remember ever being so poor that you didn’t even have a sweater?
Now this isn’t an odd question per se because we often talk about where we came from and how little we had growing up. Financially at least.
Based off the things we have talked about, I think he expected me to say yes but I said you know what? I actually don’t.
Instead I told him about this experience I had when I was about 8 years old.
At the beginning of the school year our school gave us a voucher for the local thrift store so we could go back to school shopping
It must have been a program that they offered for low income families in the district. I think it was a partnership with the local Salvation Army if I remember correctly.
Well anyway, we headed to the thrift store with our voucher in hand. I remember walking in and just looking at the rows and rows of clothes.
After a few moments of looking around with my mom, picking some stuff out as she carefully compared prices to stay within the amount written on the piece of paper, she handed the women working there the voucher.
They complimented us on our choices but informed us that everything we had chosen was actually half off that day, meaning we had only used up half our voucher.
The women then split up and walked down aisles with us individually. They asked us questions about what we liked, what our favorite colors were, etc.
As they listened to us they gave personal recommendations and picked things off the racks that they thought we would like. It was like having a personal shopper. Not the type of experience you would expect to have at a secondhand store.
Then we went into the dressing rooms to try out the things they had picked for us as they waited outside.
In the pile of clothes chosen for me was a red sweater.
When I came out of the dressing room with it on the woman helping me said oh my gosh! and made a huge deal about how great this sweater looked on me.
That sweater was made for you! She said. It was the first time I had ever heard this expression. I thought it was a funny thing to say but I remember how good it made me feel about myself.
When we went back up to the register the women said that, wouldn’t you know it, those things were half off too. We still had a little more left on our voucher.
That went on for a while. we would walk up to the register and they would say there’s still a little more.
Until we had everything we needed.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s where my love of thrifting was born.
I don’t remember participating in that specific program again and I don’t know what became of it or of that woman who helped me personally but I think of her and I wonder if she knows the impact she had.
I think of her and how kind she was
to someone who literally could not repay her
I hope to live a life like that.
I want to be like the woman who chose that red sweater for me
So no, I don’t remember being so poor I didn’t have a sweater, as a matter of fact I had a red one
and you know what?
I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.