We receive many donations of clothing at the drop in and we invite folks to help themselves to whatever they need. From time to time we are presented with genuine needs that go far beyond any donation.
Jimmy takes a size 15 boot and has difficulties finding this size anywhere in the city. Bill has a rather large circumference and has the same problem.
I approached Bill and told him we could help. If he would like, we could go to a big box store and he could get a couple pair of pants. He declined, saying that his sweat pants were serving their purpose quite well, and that there was no need – perhaps I could find someone who was really poor and who needed it. After some further conversation, he hesitantly admitted, well, he might be able to use some 52” waist trousers given that his other pair of pants were shorts (and he had been wearing them this winter!!) He was too shy to come with me, but if I went to the box store, he would need 52” a (not 50”) waist. I asked if we should do a measurement just in case, but we couldn’t find a measuring tape.
Final words, “Fifty-two.”
“No problem”, I replied, “You wait right here.”
South on Bank Street, and my two BIG questions (nice pun!) at the box store, “Do you have 52” waist pants and size 15 warm winter boots?” was answered in the affirmative. Back to the drop in.
I discretely passed Bill the inside out bag with two pairs of pants and suspenders, and encouraged him to go try them on for size. “Are they 52?” he asked.
“Yes, they are.”
“Then they will be fine, thank you very much. Fifty-two’s will be just fine. Thank you very much.”
“It might be good to try them, just in case. Sometimes store measurements can be a bit off,” I proposed, and, after receiving a somewhat hesitant affirmation, I went off to find Jimmy. Word got out that I had been looking for him, and he was waiting when I returned. Before I told him about the new boots he mentioned that his feet were wet and cold from the snow, and size 15 were not common. I told him that was just what I wanted to talk to him about. He welcomed the news and we went to the car, and he tried on the boots right there.
“Are these size 14?” he asked.
“No, these are size 15 – hey, here’s the tag,” and showed him the big ‘15’ on the box.
I passed him one of the boots and he asked for the other. “My left foot is bigger,” he explained.
Long story short, the left foot was a bit tight, but the right fit perfectly. He was very pleased and thanked me profusely.
Back downstairs to see how Bill made out. When I was only just in sight, he yelled, “Good one Ken! Thanks to Lord too,” and explained how the pants did not fit properly – maybe an inch and a half too short of buttoning up.
“Maybe get a 54 or 55 would be good. Don’t be shy. Sorry for the trouble.”
“No trouble at all,” I replied, “Better to find out now and make the exchange.”
South on Bank Street, and now just one BIG question, “Do you have 54” and Matt promptly searched for the right numbers. “Do you have 55?” I inquired, “that might be better.”
“If it’s just 1 ½ inch, then a 54 will fit just fine.”
Back again to the drop in – it was almost deserted by this time – and no Bill. Anybody seen Bill? He was upstairs getting his hair cut, so all was well.
“Got the 54’s,” I said, “No problem at all.”
“That will be great,” he replied. “Thanks so much. I am so sorry for your trouble. Thank you.”
“Maybe you should just try these on to be sure,” I offered, confident that I had achieved my goal.
“As soon as I’m done.”
Twenty minutes later he came out of the washroom with a concerned look on his face. “Ken, they only just fit. Will they shrink? What if I just hung them to dry? What if the woman that sometimes helps with my laundry forgets, and puts them in the dryer? They just barely fit now. And they’re 54’s (sigh).”
“That’s not so bad. One of our volunteers has a cousin that takes a 60.” He raised his eyebrows. I’ll take them back and get the next size up. Come to the office at noon tomorrow, and we’ll get the right size.”
“I’m so sorry about all this,” he said sadly, ”It is so much trouble.”
“Tomorrow you will have pants that fit properly. You will enjoy them for a long time to come. It’s worth it to do this right. “
“Around noon then. Thank you Ken. Thank you.”