Thrift Store

Describe an act of service that has encouraged your personal growth.


Hell's marching band. I suppress a wince as the sound of cymbals ushers Lizzy and me into alien territory. The entrance door swings shut behind us and we shuffle in, breaths drawn. Two dozen heads turn to stare. A man with a jagged scar across his temple nods briskly in our direction and resumes folding ruffled blouses. "Can I help you?" A woman leans against the counter, surveying us with startlingly lucid eyes. "We're volunteers." Lizzy stammers and I summon a watery smile. "Of course." The woman sweeps an arm across a sea of drawn faces. "I'm Ms Linda. Welcome to the Good Samaritan Thrift store!"

A spell is broken and warm smiles are thrust towards us. Lizzy and I do not know it yet, but we have just been introduced to our new family. For six weeks, we work in rhythms of sorting, folding, and hanging clothes that have been donated to the store. Our co-workers are men and women of various backgrounds; I am introduced to the issue of convicts being allowed to vote during a lunch break I share with Matthew: the man with the jagged scar. "What do you think?" He regards me knowingly over the rim of his coffee mug. I smile back politely, too timid to voice an opinion. I am ejected from my comfort zone two weeks later when a woman...

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