November 07, 2002

Shoe Theory

So, the question for today is this: why in the heck am I getting new shoes? And the answer is: heck if I know.

A couple of days ago, I found I was looking at the bottom of my shoes during a work meeting. I like to be productive at all times, and given a complete lack of resources and an edict not to draw during meetings, this was the result, a thorough and deep understanding of my shoes.

To understand my shoes, you have to understand my shoe-buying theory, and my buying-theory theory. First, the latter: everyone has a theory on when the appropriate time to buy things. You purchase shoes at such-and-such time, because that's when shoes are at their cheapest. Or you buy these shoes, because they'll last longest. This also applies to all other forms of clothing, books, lettuce, chinese food, and pretty much every buying decision you make when you're buying something you care about.

Then, there's my personal shoe-buying theory: get good shoes, not cheap ones. Wear them day-in-and-day-out until they can't be worn any more, then get another good pair. Buy good walking shoes -- because the next time you fly to San Francisco and decide walking from one side of town to the other shouldn't necessitate a shoe-shopping trip. Buy dark shoes, as they give the appropriate head-nod to the work side of work-causal. Buy Ecco or Rockports or Timberlines, as they hold up to normal wear for the first year.

But the "when-to-buy" portion of my shoe-theory is going through a test. In all buying-theories, you have to test out portions of your theory from time-to-time: how much are shoes at this store I never was in before? Cheaper? Fabulous: put that in your theory blender and see what comes out.

My theory-in-evolution is that a shoe has to last at least a year, or it's just crap. Good shoes are good for at least a year and a half, probably two years. Over $100 better get you at least 3 years, remove all foot-odor forever and get you a date with a Playboy model. The shoes better *live up* to that $100, or I've been cheated. And my feet will not get wet, either through snow, rain, sleet, monsoon, dunking in a river, or any contact with liquid.

All of which hinge on the defintion of the verb "to last".

I mean, is a shoe dead when the shoe breaks a lace, gets scuffed, or when it's so worn that the sole sticks out of the bottom? What defines a shoe that's still good?

Which leads us to my exploration of How Good Are My Shoes during a work meeting. My current shoes, a pair of Rockport "cross-trainers", meaning "shoes you can use for across the board purposes while training yourself to wear something not lovingly referred to as a sneaker", is about dead. The air-cushioning system has worn to the If It Was A Bubble On The Wall Of An Artery In My Brain, Write Your Will *This Second* So Your Comic Books Go To The Cartoon Art Museum And Not The Garbage Heap stage. The rear heel has expired and gone to meet it's maker. The plastic badge that identified the type of shoe this was, is no more. The shoelaces barely hold together, and I haven't had to retie these shoes in about 6 months as the knot is welded at one spot. These shoes are definitely not good.

And then, I look at the shoes of the other people who have sponsored this meeting. Each one of them, to a person, has Fancy Shoes. Fancy Shoes are a category I don't and will not purchase. Fancy Shoes indicate a self-consciousness and a willingness to "get your ass in gear" for a company. Fancy Shoes have a shine to them and are worn with matching but thin socks.

Fancy Shoes don't keep your feet dry in the rain.

It's a re-affirmation of sorts on who I am and who I work with. I work with people bound and determined to get up that corporate ladder... whereas I'm determined to get somewhere instead. My shoes are for getting me places. My shoes get me everywhere I want to go. My shoes should last a long time.

Their shoes are for impressing other people.

So, I'm off to get shoes tonight. A metaphor perhaps, but there's something to be said for metaphors: they're indicators of larger things.

Posted by Ted Stevko at November 7, 2002 06:55 PM


Posted by: at July 10, 2004 09:48 PM