One blue Croc, large and dirty, lay askew on the sidewalk.
“Too bad,” I thought. “Someone lost a shoe, and one shoe without the other is useless.” As I kept walking on that sunny Sunday afternoon, I noticed a patch of blue far up ahead on the sidewalk. “You can’t be serious,” I thought as I approached it. Another blue Croc! If I went back to get the other Croc, I thought, they could be cleaned up, and maybe someone could use them.
But that felt awkward. Besides, I wanted to keep walking. So I did. Far ahead, I noticed a man on a motorized scooter, chugging along at a snail’s pace. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Coming up beside the person, I saw his bare foot resting on the scooter’s floor. Discolored skin hinted at a medical condition. A catheter bag peeked out from beneath his pant leg. When he noticed me, I asked, “Are you alright?”
The man’s woeful tale spilled out. He had gone to buy his groceries and had left his phone and wallet in the basket of his scooter. When he wasn’t looking, they were stolen. Confused and disoriented, he was making his way home from the grocery store. But the scooter’s battery was dying and needed to be recharged. I offered to go to a nearby house to ask if the scooter could recharge there, but the man declined. Even if he went in fits and starts, he said, he could make it home. But he was worried, too, because his personal support worker was waiting to help him with his medication, and he had no way of letting her know where he was.
“What time is it?” he asked anxiously.
I didn’t know for sure, but I guessed it was around 2 p.m.
“That late?” he gasped. “Oh, no, I’ve been gone for hours!”
As the man continued to lament his situation, I noticed that his other foot was also bare, and suddenly everything made sense.
“Did you lose a pair of blue Crocs?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “and they’re extra large, especially for my feet.”
“I saw them back there,” I said. “Do you want me to get them for you?”
“Yes!” he exclaimed.
As I retraced my steps, I realized that when the Crocs slipped off his feet, he had been unable to get off of his scooter to pick them up. I thought of all that had gone wrong for him that day and what might have gone awry in the years before that. How vulnerable he was!
Back at the scooter, the man laboriously put the Crocs back on his feet. I asked if I could help him in any other way. No, he assured me, he would get home, slowly but surely.
Before I left, I said, “I want you to know that Jesus loves you.” I knew who had put me on this man’s path, even if he didn’t know it. Walking on, I thanked God that I could serve Jesus in this unusual way.
In the following weeks, I walked that stretch of road many times and often prayed for The Man in the Blue Crocs, as I came to call him. I wondered how the rest of his day went and how he was doing now.
A few months later, I walked into a grocery store near my home. A motorized scooter zipped past me in the store’s entryway. The Man in the Blue Crocs! Except this time, instead of looking vulnerable and disoriented, he was happy and seemed well, not wearing the blue Crocs that had led to our encounter, but dressed for winter weather with his feet adequately shod. I recognized him, but he didn’t notice me. I smiled and thought that if I ever get a chance to talk to him again, I’ll ask him his name. But for now, I’ll call The Man in the Blue Crocs a beloved child of God, because that’s who he is.