Walking in someone else’s shoes

Several years ago I received a pair of socks made of alpaca wool from my editor.

Several years ago I received a pair of socks made of alpaca wool from my editor.

They were a Christmas gift. I still have them. They are warm, comfortable, fit well and are a pleasure to wear. Experienced hikers and outdoors people all know just how important socks are out on the trail. Good quality, comfortable, properly fitting socks are probably one of the most important pieces of outdoor gear to can have when venturing into the wilds.

Take my word for it, nothing can ruin a walk in the woods or an extended outdoor adventure more than blisters.

However, a good pair of socks can be expensive. Alpaca socks will run you $30 or more. Other specialized outdoor activity socks can run anywhere from $20 to $50 and up. Which brings me to my point. While I have always appreciated the gift of my alpaca socks, I have also always felt a little guilty knowing that there are a lot of people living on the streets who would more than appreciate a decent pair of clean, warm socks. Many of us do not hesitate to spend significant amounts of money on outdoor gear.

Runners can cost two, three, four hundred dollars and more. I’ve bought cars for that kind of money.

I have also known what it is not to have any money. While I have worked hard for over 40 years, I was also once a starving university student. Not to mention that working for a newspaper is the closest thing to receiving a pay check while not actually being paid any real amount of money.

I have never had to wonder where my next meal was going to come from and I have never had to sleep in a doorway or back alley, and I can only imagine what it must be like to survive the night only to face a bleak and dismal day ahead.

I also do not know what it must be like to have to keep walking all day in order to find something to eat – walking block after block, wondering if there will be room at the shelter at night, shivering on cold days, trying to stay out of the rain on miserable days – all the while wearing the same socks that you’ve worn for who knows how many days.

How many homeless people even have extra socks to change into?

I hope I never experience being homeless and having to live on the streets. And, while it may seem trivial to be writing about socks when there are more important social issues that need to be addressed, I nevertheless feel compassion for my fellow human beings who, by little more than chance, are less fortunate than me. If providing a clean pair of warm socks to someone in need can make even a little difference in their lives, then I think it is a worthwhile endeavour.

Now I am certainly not trying to make anyone feel guilty about spending money on expensive outdoor gear. What I am suggesting is that when you do decide to fork over $20 to $50 for one pair of socks, you also spend a few dollars more and buy a package of work or sport socks as well.

You know the kind where they come six or eight pairs in a pack. They are not all that expensive and they are usually pretty good quality. Then take them down to the local Salvation Army shelter.

It may not be the same as walking a mile in a homeless person’s shoes, but it will go a ways in helping them walk the hard pavement.

It might even make you feel a little bit better about spending a lot of money on yourself. Either way, your gift of clean, warm socks will be appreciated.


Salmon Arm Observer