Our sock bin

Socks are really valuable to us here at Love Wins. They are one of the few items we keep behind a key. We give them out to anyone who asks, but only a pair or two at a time. With no reliable opportunity to do laundry, our friends who sleep outside often wear a pair of socks until they are ruined, toss them out, and get a new pair from us. Experience has taught us that we need not to run out of socks and that some of our friends have hoarding issues (often borne out of long-term desperation), so as much as rationing goes against our ethos, it is necessary when it comes to socks.

Each of us has at most two feet, so you could say one pair at a time is all we need. But most of us have a drawerful of socks. Tall, thick socks for wearing boots. Short, thick socks for sneakers. Thin, dress socks for dress shoes. Decorative, fun, festive (BBQ!) socks. Even socks for wearing around the house on a chilly day with no shoes at all, like the ones that have nonskid bottoms. All that adds up to that drawerful of socks. We like socks. For people sleeping outside, socks are more than nice, they are a scarce and valuable commodity. Even folks who don’t have a drawerful of socks or a drawer to put socks in or a house to put a dresser in still like to have more than one pair. If you’ve ever walked around in wet socks, you can easily imagine why. We all like socks.

Still, those of us fortunate enough to have a drawerful of socks routinely visit stores that sell socks without buying any. We like socks, we often have the money to buy socks, but we pass on buying more. Why? Because we have enough socks. We still have at most two feet. We usually only wear one pair at a time. A person only needs so many socks. Some of us could, if we wanted, wear a new pair of socks every day and then toss them out. We could go through 365 pairs of socks a year. But most of us would call that wasteful. And there’s something to be said for a favorite pair, even a lucky pair, of socks. But even if we were so wanton in our sock consumption, it’s still limited to the number of feet and days in a year.

A recent donation

Imagine a person that kept buying and storing more and more socks. Not to wear. Not to share. Just to have. If a friend told you they had 1000 pairs of new socks stored, wouldn’t you ask why? Maybe make a joke about the sock apocalypse – the sockalypse? What if they had 10,000 pairs or 100,000 pairs or 1 million pairs of socks? Socks piled up to heaven. Wouldn’t we say that person had a problem? An obsession? That something was strange and wrong? Think of all the trouble and expense they would have just to procure, store, and maintain their hoard of socks. What if they also took steps to ensure their trove of socks was passed on exclusively to their child? Don’t you imagine the daughter or son would respond with some version of, “No thanks?”

A person only needs so many socks (even awesome BBQ ones, or maybe at most one pair of BBQ socks). Maybe more if you live in Maine or less if you live in Florida, but only so many. And not that many. We only have at most two feet. And only so many days until laundry.

Perhaps our sock drawers and bank accounts have more in common than we have considered. And perhaps we are too often led by, and take moral cues from, people who have hoarding issues.

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Michael Raburn

Michael Raburn

Michael Raburn is the Director of Communications for the Love Wins Community Engagement Center. Mike enjoys spending time with Amy, their five kids, and more creatures than you can imagine. You can contact Mike:
Michael Raburn

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