It only took a brief moment for a stranger on a Red Line train to leave passengers “floored,” but for Jessica Bell, that moment changed everything.
Bell was simply riding the Chicago Transit Authority train late Friday night, when she noticed a passenger quietly taking off his shoes. The man had a suitcase with him and appeared to be traveling alone.
That man was Maurice Anderson, who was returning to Chicago Friday night to spend the weekend with his daughter after working for the week in Kentucky – a weekly commute he has grown accustomed to.
Nearby, on the other side of the doors and across the aisle, an older man sat on the train appearing “weathered,” as Bell recalled, with tattered gym shoes folded at the back “like slip-ons.”
“I don’t know how many pairs of socks he’s wearing in an attempt to keep his feet warm but there is blood seeping through,” she wrote in a Facebook post detailing the remarkable exchange she soon witnessed.
Anderson was wearing his brand new boots, boots Bell said appeared “built for a Chicago winter.”
“I just purchased those boots like two or three weeks ago,” Anderson told NBC 5. “But when I saw [the older man], it bothered me that he was out like that and no one had even lifted a finger to say, ‘Here man, go get yourself a pair of boots’ or whatever.”
Anderson said he asked the man what size shoe he wore, and the man on the train replied a size 12.
“I wear a 12 and a half so I just took [the boots] off and said, ‘Here you go,’” Anderson told NBC 5.
The exchange was detailed in a now-viral Facebook post written by Bell.
“Quietly in a blink and you’ll miss it fashion, the younger man takes off the boots he’s wearing and passes them to the old man,” Bell wrote. “He opens his suitcase and gives him a pair of socks as well. The young man puts on a spare pair of shoes from the suitcase. These shoes are nice too, but not as nice as the boots. They would have fit the old man just as well, but they were not what this old man needed.”
Anderson didn’t realize anyone was watching at the time.
“The reason I posted about Maurice, is because we’ve all given or see people give food, or money to the homeless, but I have never seen someone give the clothes off their back so unselfishly and so humbly. I know Maurice didn’t do it for likes because he already had one shoe off before I even realized he was doing it,” Bell told NBC 5.
Bell said the man on the train was from Louisiana and had feared his feet might be frostbitten.
“He said he was going to wait until his feet thawed out to put the new shoes on, but he was sure they would fit,” she said.
When asked what Anderson would say to the man if he saw him again, Anderson simply replied with “How do those boots feel?”
“I would do it all again if I had to,” he said.