Being poor is hard. The basics of what you need to live are always one or two (maybe three or four) paychecks away.
I remember being in college and my glasses would break. There was a year where I replaced the arm with a fork.
After college, while working at a grocery store, my shoes began to fall apart. For two months I would just duct tape them back together.
And I am not the only one who has done this. Police Cpl. Sebastian Goldman was being assisted to his car by an employee of the grocery store one rainy afternoon when he noticed the young man’s duct-taped shoe.
“I looked at him and said, ‘What’s up with duct tape? Is that something all the kids are doing? A fashion statement?” Goldman asked.
“Me working here, I split my shoes. I was going to buy some more when I get paid,” the 19-year old reportedly said.
Before leaving to deliver the food to inmates, he asked the young man his shoe size. That evening, having dropped the food off, he went and purchased size 12 1/2 shoes for the young man.
“I said, ‘Man, here you go. I didn’t know payday was Friday or two weeks from now.’ He said, ‘What do I owe you?’ and I told him to just pay it forward,” Goldman said to the young man after handing him the shoes.
The teen’s situation reminded him of words his grandfather used to say. “My granddaddy used to always say, ‘You know where you’ve been, but you don’t know where you’re going,”’ Goldman quoted.
The story went viral when Angela Roach Scory, who was in the store at the time, posted a photo to facebook. You never know when a private moment of integrity will be seen by the world.
Goldman concluded, “I hope people take from it that the police aren’t really bad. We’ve been getting such a bad rap in the news. We’re human beings with families and kids and loved ones.”
Of course when people are critical of the police, they are not actually anti-cop for the most part. The ‘story behind the story’ is a looming sense that so much injustice is systemic.
It is important that kind cops, thoughtful churches, and normal people address the immediate needs of our communities. Beyond that, though, is the systemic need to address poverty, the roots of crime, and hunger.
Goldman suggested the teen “pay it forward,” and I hope we all will by being aggressively thoughtful, loving, and active in addressing the systemic causes of the world’s problems.
Hueytown Police Chief Chuck Hagler said, “Like so many officers, one of the things that attracted Corporal Goldman to police work was the chance to help people. I am pleased and proud of what he did, but not surprised,” the chief said.
“Good people act when they see a person in need and most police officers that I know are fundamentally good people.”
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