Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop . . . in the Street

There is a discarded shoe in the road at the intersection of 17th Street and Tuttle Avenue. It’s sitting cocked, with its heel resting on the pavement and its toe on the parkway median, sort of pointing skyward, perhaps hoping to return to its native homeland. It is a men’s hiking shoe, not quite a boot but more rugged than a tennis shoe. From a distance, it appears to be a Merrill but I have not stopped to verify the brand—it could be a cheap knock-off. This shoe has been in the same location for as long as I have lived in this town. It has become my navigational landmark. I don’t know how I will find my way home if someone removes this important cultural artifact.

How does someone lose a shoe in the middle of the street? I have often wondered this. I’ve seen lost, single shoes in the road before but I’ve never understood how the loss occurs. Except for baby shoes because those little buggers kick things to high heaven and only the most attentive parent will catch every flung foot covering. But adult shoes? How do you lose your own shoes, especially in the middle of the street? Where are you keeping your shoes that you don’t notice when they fall? Shoes are expensive, and shoe owners should be keeping track of their footwear.

Of course, on occasion you may find your plastic flip flop being washed away by a strong ocean wave, and that’s at least understandable. Also, your flops cost 99 cents at Wal-Mart so you’re probably not too upset about this, except for the feeling that you may have inadvertently just harmed a sea creature with your inattention to tracking your beach sandals. You jerk. The only thing more ridiculous looking than someone chasing after an errant flop in the waves is someone chasing an empty plastic bag caught in an updraft in a Wal-Mart parking lot. We’ve all been that guy.

Inadvertent loss baffles me, but intentional litter really pisses me off. The thing I hate most is seeing a fast food bag thrown out a car window. People who do that are just the worst kind of @$$hats. Seriously. Use your PoS car as a garbage can, not the ground. It’s not like that 25-year-old Chevy Cavalier with a railroad tie for a bumper is going to depreciate any further with a crumpled up Big Mac wrapper on the back seat. Also, if you throw your cigarette butt out your window while I’m following on my motorcycle, I swear to god I will pick it up, follow you, and throw it back in your lap when you stop at the next red light. Okay, probably not, but I will fantasize about it.

Are these casual litterers (and PoS Cavalier drivers) the same careless people losing their shoes in the road? Whenever I see a shoe in the street, such as my landmark at 17th and Tuttle, I imagine what scenario has happened to result in the footwear fiasco. How did one half of a $150 pair of shoes end up guiding my way to the thrift store two miles from my house? Was the owner being chased by a bear? Did a serial killer get a hold of his foot and he saved himself by wiggling free of his hiker? Was he listening to Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” so loudly on his ear buds that he didn’t hear the thunk of a size 11 falling out of his backpack? How does this happen? I need answers.

In summation, don’t be a litterbug and keep track of your shoes. The sea turtles and motorcyclists will thank you. Disoriented motorists, not so much.