Skills I Never Thought I Would Acquire

Sizing shoes: I have become an expert at looking at someone’s foot and guessing its size correctly.  I can also convert between European and UK shoe sizes in my head.

Did you know that you can size a man’s trousers by the circumference of his neck?  I now know this fact.

I speak a few words of Punjabi now.  Who knew.

Clothing mime.  I’m so good at it guys.

Saying no: I wish I did not have to be good at this, but I have become an expert at telling sad people that they can’t have new shoes/bags/jeans.  I’m also good at shutting the door in their faces and telling them to come back later.  I hate this part of my job, but it took only one instance of having nothing for a family of wet, crying kids before I learned that it is worse to tell someone who really needs a thing that they can’t have it than to refuse someone who desires a thing but doesn’t need it.

Sleeping literally anywhere: I’ve been reasonably good at this for a while, but I’ve recently perfected the art of catnaps in boxes of clothes.

Cutting up emergency blankets.  Weirdly specific, and something I do almost every day.  I have a system.

Lack of surprise at whatever the latest illegal and inhumane measure various governments or the EU have taken to keep people out.  Again, a skill I wish I didn’t need.  Almost every day we get news of more horrors.  10,000 people stuck at the Macedonian border.  Pakistanis arrested and deported for no reason other than their country of birth.  NATO and Turkish police pushing boats back or deliberately sinking them, respectively.  Lack of food, clothing, shelter… People lying down across train tracks in protest, children being teargassed in multiple countries, fires breaking out in Calais as the Jungle gets bulldozed, 400 kids left homeless* and alone.  Human rights violations along the Balkan Route are as common as ditchwater.

*A note on this article: some of the numbers may be confusing.  It’s estimated that there are around 400 kids in Calais, the youngest of whom is ten.  This also does not take into account the families who have taken on a relative’s kid as their own, which happens frequently.  Those kids are often much younger, and although they are not unaccompanied, they are traveling without their own parents, and the mental stress can be very damaging.  Although the article barely touches on it, one of the biggest concerns around unaccompanied minors is human trafficking and sex slavery.  The refugee crisis has already provided human traffickers with easy pickings – kids disappear all the time.

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