It is important, in order to preserve the illusion of American Exceptionalism, to maintain the poor in this country are far better off than that of the best of the 3rd world. It is easy for someone to discount the struggle of surviving on the streets, begging for food and sleeping in the cold. Allow me to share the story of my Winter Shoes.
Once upon a cold Christmas Eve, a local church was handing out blankets, socks and some hand-me-down winter clothing. Maybe they did it so that homeless deaths this winter would be less than that of the average and maybe so they could feel warm and fuzzy inside, beholding people who are more miserable than they. It is not my place to speculate on their motives, only to share that I in fact was at that time cold and miserable. My shoes were ripped with gaping holes in the soles and every time I walked anywhere they would fill with slush, which is as you may imagine an unpleasant experience.
As I chanced upon this gathering of the wretched I notices that among things distributed was pairs of only lightly used shoes. To be more honest, it was never my intention to receive such handouts. I had intended on acquiring some boots from the local department store by utilizing the age-old art, more commonly referred to as the five-fingered discount, but in this context some variation of slipping the boots on and making a most discreet exit. The opportunity presented to me on this day was a more honest approach to keeping my toes and so I set myself at the end of line and begin to wait.
How long must one wait in the cold for used shoes can be determined my multiplying the average time it takes one person to receive a pair, change it for another, and ask if they had any in blue (to which the answer was most certainly a curt no), by the total number waiting to do the same. It was in this idle time I came about feeling quite uncomfortable and I write here on the exact discomfort I experienced.
In the hour and a half I waited snow fell a quarter of an inch and the temperature remained steady at a handful of degrees above zero Fahrenheit. It was neither the snow nor the cold wind that bothered me so much as my moist socks. As I waited I my feet steadily began to lose sensation. I could, as many experience these days, feel the sting of cold on my face but I began to worry about my toes. By the time I had reached halfway to the cornucopia my entire feet up an inch above the the ankle on both feet lost all feeling except mild tugging quite similar to the effect of a locally applied anesthetic.
It was the second half of my wait that was the most difficult. While I admit my lower digits may seem to have little utility they were mine and I only was endowed ten for the entire duration of my life. To be clear as a martial-artist my balance would be adversely affected by the loss of any one of them.
I pondered the merit of my endeavor. Finding fault in my quest, I asked myself what was the purpose of this particular undertaking if I might lose what I seek to protect by the very actions of the undertaking as I attempt to secure their aegis. Nevertheless I felt it would be folly to abandon my travail here, so close to my victory. So I steeled myself and continued my grueling impetus.
Finally, I had reached the white folding table and beheld the apple of my eye, a pair of red shoes, and hastily claimed my prize. It was then, (the shoes held no mark of their size) as I don the pair I was marked with frustration by the endeavor. Because the numbness in my lower extremities I could not determine if the shoes fit properly. I wondered if, as I warmed up I would find them chaff. It was in weakness I walked away, and only in the fortune of the fates that they indeed fit properly as I wear them on this day as I type this.