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I went to Target with my daughter last week.

Since it was right after dinner and I'd had three iced teas with my Mexican food, I made a pit stop to the restroom first thing while she went on ahead to check out the swimsuits.


Photo via iStock.

I was alone in the restroom. There were two large handicapped-accessible stalls, complete with baby-changing tables, and two regular stalls. I headed all the way down to the farthest single stall, up against the wall, and I sat down to take care of business.

That's when stuff got weird.

The outer door opened, and someone came into the restroom.

She walked past the three open stalls and stood directly in front of my door. Then she leaned over and placed her eye firmly up against the gap between the door and the frame and stared in at me.

Photo via iStock.

I am not making this up. And let me tell you, it was awkward. Bizarre even. This wasn't a case of someone hoping all those occupied stalls aren't really occupied. Mine was the only stall that was occupied. She deliberately stopped and stared in at me. My startled eyes met hers, and she moved away into one of the larger stalls.

I got out of my stall as quickly as I could, and as I stood washing my hands, her voice called out.

"Sorry about that," she said. "But, you know, Target lets men and homosexuals use just any bathroom. I was making sure you were a woman."

I didn't say a word — because I really didn't know how to answer that.

Was she expecting a transgender woman to be lying in wait?

Hoping to ... what? Urinate behind a closed door? Was a pedophile or a rapist in a dress and a bad wig going to crawl under the stall walls while she sat, even though this is a public restroom in a very busy and popular store, when anyone — including employees with walkie-talkies — could walk in at any time and catch them? And don't even get me started about the homosexuals. I guess she's just worried they'll leave homosexual germs around or something.

I walked out, utterly gobsmacked, and it wasn't until I caught up with my daughter and told her the whole ridiculous story that I realized the complete and utter irony of it. This woman deliberately made me feel horribly uncomfortable just because she was uncomfortable with the extremely vague possibility of someone being different from expected behind a closed and locked stall door.

My daughter raised a brow and asked, "Did you tell her that your teenage daughter has a girlfriend?"

"She probably would have blinded me with hand sanitizer or something," I joked.

Anna just shrugged. "I feel sorry for her. I mean, with everything going on in the world, this is what makes her afraid? She doesn't even know how creepy she's being."

Come on ... the woman had to know she was being creepy. And it was really, really creepy. She just didn't care. Either she had an agenda to let me know she was taking a certain "moral" stance about a policy, or she really is afraid enough to do something rude and creepy even though she knows it's rude and creepy.

In the end, she was still shopping at Target because she needed or liked its products, and her fear didn't stop her from shopping.

Photo via iStock.

And transgender people are quietly and without fanfare using the restroom they want to use and going on about their day, and probably most people don't even know they did it. And the pedophiles and rapists of the world will still find a way to hurt people, as they always have, policy or no policy.

And me? I'm still thinking about how ridiculous the whole thing was. My mind runs through all the snappy comebacks I should have used but didn't. I should have blown her a kiss. Or mooned her through the crack of her door.

Mostly, though, I think about my wise and beautiful daughter. The one with the girlfriend. She feels sorry for that woman. She chose compassion instead of offense or rudeness or insult.

But I still wish I'd blown a kiss.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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