A Day In My Shoes
I was recently forced to rethink my stance on shoes, when my doctor recommended a change in foot wear. At the time, I was recovering from the effects of an automotive accident, and in need of more support than I was accustomed to, footwear or otherwise.
Over the years, I’ve collected and worn just about every color, pattern, character, and type of glitter in the Van's “Off the Wall” rainbow. Their shoes are wildly expressive, affordable, replaceable, and most importantly, quiet. My Van's collection housed numerous pairs of backup shoes, and sometimes even backup-backup pairs of exceptionally unique styles. When one shoe fell to pieces or became unacceptably grody, I’d simply head to the closet, reach for another pair, and head out the door—ultimate convenience.
It was now my goal to find shoes that could replicate the ease of wear, provided by the Van’s arsenal in my closet. I wandered from store to store, combing through various collections of unappealing shoes. I happened upon two pairs of boots that seemed to satisfy the most basic societal dress code requirements. They fit well, had great arch support, matched most of my clothing, and they were quiet. The leather soled boots I purchased were a far cry from the rubber soled Pizza Shoes I had worn into the shoe store. I was forewarned that given the amount of walking I am accustomed to, unless protected, the new shoes and their leather soles would not last. There was however, one way to protect them and for that, I needed The Cobbler.
This was my first visit to The Cobbler and his establishment (or any cobbler, for that matter). Upon meeting him, I noted that he was an older man, as one would imagine a skilled cobbler to be, but with very clean hands.
The Cobbler offered me a cup of coffee, while he worked. He confided in me that he too was a photographer, when he was not repairing shoes. At this point, I recognize a photographer as being an individual in constant pursuit of ze essence of photography. His skill, sincerity, and sense of humor confirmed that he was the person I would entrust with all of my shoes and occasionally, opinions. Years of experience re-soling shoes, clean hands, and a love for photography— who could ask for more?
I sat and watched customers come and go, sipping coffee, as The Cobbler worked his magic on my boots. I began to notice a pattern amongst his clientele. Waves of people dropped off shoes to be touched up, repaired, or brought back to life, after having completely "kicked the bucket." I noted that no one seemed to bring shoes to be outfitted for preventative measures. Was I the first? No. The Cobbler recalled a man who had brought in twenty pairs of luxurious shoes, ranging anywhere from eight to twenty-thousand dollars a pair— all of which he outfitted with the same protective sole currently being installed on my shoes. “You’re doing the right thing!” he assured me.
After forty-five minutes of coffee and conversation, the job was done. My new shoes were now outfitted for the journey of a lifetime. As I was leaving, The Cobbler called out to me with the candor I had come to appreciate from him, during the time of our conversation. “Change your fucking shoes! Man should wear boots! What are these shoes with Pizza on them?” He had a valid point. What kind of person wears shoes with pizza on them? The thought of my late grandmother rolling over in her grave, at the thought of her favorite grandson wearing pizza on his feet brought a smile to my face. It was time for a style update and The Cobbler knew it.
When a man tells another man to change his fucking shoes, a man abides. The photograph you see is my last memory of Pizza Shoes, before their untimely demise and retirement from my Van’s collection. From that point on, I decided to only wear quality shoes that could last a lifetime. If not for myself, then at least, for The Cobbler.
"Shoes are a personal thing,” The Cobbler explained. He's spent countless hours repairing the wear and tear people inflict upon themselves and their shoes. If anyone knows anything about a person, it’s the individual who works on their shoes, more often than the person who simply walks in them.
Since the retirement of Pizza Shoes, I’ve noticed a positive change in attitude towards me, on the street. I am no longer stopped and addressed as bro or brother, in public. I experience better quality service and attention in retail, lounge, and dining spaces. People even apologize for stepping on my feet! With Pizza Shoes, it was as if people either didn’t notice bright colors, or simply stomped on them, fueled by a seething hatred for pizza.
The Cobbler was absolutely right. Shoes are personal. They help to make an impression, in an unabashedly image conscious society. They support our bodies and every step we take, on the road to fulfilling our dreams, while actively propelling us towards our next endeavor or a hole in the sidewalk. They tell strangers that we love dairy, when we don’t and they allow us to literally stand tall in the face of challenges, loss, and at the end of it all, new beginnings. After all is said and done, I’m perfectly content experiencing pizza on a plate. Time to hit the streets.