This past Sunday I bought some new work shoes. I walk about five miles per shift, so its imperative that my shoes keep my feet from shouting insults at me by the end of the night. I bought some sweet Nike Air Maxes for $30 off the list price, complete with an air pocket straight from the 90’s. If they weren’t all-black, I would likely sport these shoes every day, because I love air pockets. The local Foot Locker did not have these shoes in my size, 10, so I opted to try on the 9.5’s and they fit my feet swimmingly. On Monday I worked lunch and dinner shifts at the restaurant, so I walked about 8-10 miles (dinner was slow, so I’m not sure I walked that much) in my new shoes. By the end of the night my feet were shouting. I chalked it up to the shoes being brand new and needing to be broken in. No big deal.
To my surprise this morning, when I put on my sweet new Nike Air Maxes, size 9.5 not 10, my feet were already shouting at me. They said, “Hey! These shoes are too tight! You’re killing my tender little pinky toes!” I listened to my feet, took off the shoes, and decided I needed to return them. I got the bottle brush we use for scrubbing sippy-cups and scrubbed the soles, which had a sundried tomato and some sort of other food-related gunk on them from Monday’s work shifts. I left them on the table to dry and put on my trusty old, bald, New Balances and went to work. My feet sang songs of thanksgiving as I walked out the door (I can’t recall the lyrics right now, but trust me, they were thankful lyrics).
Tonight, I boxed up my sweet new Nike Air Maxes, got the receipt, and reluctantly returned to Foot Locker. I knew they didn’t have the right size shoes in this style for me, and I also knew that it was going to be hard to get out of there with my money. Shoe salesmen are a lot like car salesmen. They know how to seal the deal. I walked into the Foot Locker and the two employees looked at me with a bit of skepticism. The girl who was working asked me how I was doing. I mumbled that I was doing okay, but I need to return my shoes. She said I had to talk to the other guy because I looked guilty. Guilty? Guilty of listening to my feet? How could she? I instantly felt like I was doing something illegal.
The guy encouraged me to check out the other all-black shoes that they have for sale, and I noticed they had another pair that I had planned on buying this Sunday. I chose to get a shoe that was too small for me instead, because of the air pockets, and because of the sale price. Seriously. I love air pockets, and saving money. I tried on the shoes that I intended to buy in the first place and, sure enough, they were perfect. Maybe not perfect, but my feet didn’t complain about them, so I exchanged my air pockets for these less fancy shoes.
When I got home, I replaced the insoles with some cushy-er ones I had in another pair of walking shoes and I put my new, better, shoes on for a test walk. One shoe fit great, and the other was super uncomfortable and tight. My feet complained, and I wanted to shout. I took off the shoes and threw them down in a fit of anger. How in the name of Jesus did the left shoe fit fine in the store and fit so terribly when I got home? How long, Oh Lord, must I suffer this injustice?
I vigorously started putting the old insoles back into my new, terrible, shoes. I was going to have to walk that walk of shame back into Foot Locker again tomorrow. But I couldn’t find the insole for the left shoe anywhere. Then I realized my stupidity. I had put the new insole in the left shoe on top of the old insole, instead of removing it. It wasn’t the shoes that were the problem. It was me.
I have a million things to think about all day, every day. When something goes wrong, when my shoes don’t fit right or I wake up super tired after staying up late, I get angry. I blame everything else before ever considering whether the problem is me. I think its probably me more often than I realize. I probably won’t change too much as a result of my shoe-mishap, but I am going to try to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slower(er) to become angry, until I actually have the right to.