"Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you are a mile away - and you have their shoes." (Jack Handey, American comedian)
In between ranting and raving about the teachers' strike, I also found myself in the annoying position of having to replace two pairs of shoes that I have walked a few miles too many in. For me (as, I guess, for most guys), clothing is a grudge purchase, and when it comes to shoes I literally own four pairs - a brown pair, a black pair, a pair of sandals, and a pair of tackies (sneakers to my American friends - I've forgotten what they would be called in the UK), and replacement is on the basis of disintegration.
Problem is that my local Edgars here in Pietermaritzburg doesn't stock brown shoes anymore. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Now I'm not talking about those ghastly suede things with the gangsta rap buckle and the one-inch white sole - I'm talking about normal brown shoes - the kind you would wear with a smart pair of slacks or a suit. According to the salesman, brown shoes "don't sell" (well, duh! They won't sell if you don't stock them!). I know now how Henry Ford's customers felt when purchasing a Model T - "you can have it in any colour, as long as it's black!"
Now you might think that I'm making a big deal about brown shoes, but now that I have rejoined the Scout movement (as an assistant troop scouter, some 23 years and MANY kilogrammes after completing my Springbok Scout), it's critical that I have a brown pair to go with my uniform. Besides, when you only own four pairs of shoes in total, you need some options! So on Saturday it was off to Durban to see if the bigger stores stocked what I was looking for. Edgars at Gateway didn't have any brown shoes either, and while Jet did have some (quite cheap as well), they threatened to disintegrate if I so much as looked at them for too long.
I must however confess that I'm a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to clothing, and shoes in particular. Because I have a major wheel alignment problem in the form of severe supernation (where the outside of the foot hits the ground first), coupled with my right leg being 12mm shorter than the left one, I am extremely hard on shoes. Whether I buy expensive ones or cheap ones, the end result is the same - totally wrecked within 6-9 months. Needless to say, I don't know which wally would be prepared to pay four grand for that pair of shoes I saw at Stuttafords (don't ask - I was getting desparate at this stage), but it sure as hell AIN'T gonna be me - especially on a seminarian's stipend!
Finally, on the verge of suicide, I dragged my sorry self into Woolworths, where lo and behold, there were shiny new pairs of ordinary lace-up shoes - in brown, and in black. A quick swipe of the credit card later (it's only money after all), my wardrobe was replenished and I could finally turf out the punctured brown pair with the big cracks right across the sole and the disintegrated black pair that looks fine from above but has broken its back between heel and sole!
So now I'm sitting at my desk wearing my shiny new pair of black shoes. Now If only I can wear the buggers in, because they are hurting like hell! And I need to break the brown pair in as well before my Scout meeting on Friday...
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