“Back-To-School Shoe Sale” Is My Idea of a Horror Movie

I hate shopping. I just want to get what I need and get the hell outta there. When it comes to big ticket items, this can be especially troublesome. If you want to get a car, for example, a quick in and out isn’t always an option. Test driving, haggling, negotiating with the bank: all that takes time. Of course, that’s not nearly as complicated as shoe shopping. I mean a car’s a car, but shoes—that’s a serious investment.

Shopping for new shoes is a lot of work. I never buy the first thing I see. Trying on shoes is a long and complicated process. Do they fit? Are they comfortable? Can I see myself spending the day in them? Do they trigger bad memories from junior high? These are important questions. Also, who in their right mind would buy shoes off of eBay?

When I was at basic training for the army, the initial issue of uniforms was an assembly line affair that took all day. Soldiers were hustled from room to room, handed all manner of camouflaged items and sent to the next issue station. The only time we were allowed to sit down was when we got our boots. Even the army recognized the necessity of properly fitted footwear. While other soldiers took the first pair of boots the clerk gave them, I tried on pair after pair of (seemingly) identical tan desert combat boots. I didn’t get up again until I had found the perfect boot. All these years later, I still love them and wear them. My time spent at the boot station might have raised the eyebrows of my fellow soldiers at the time but in the weeks that followed, when I was walking comfortably while they were hobbling around with painful blisters on their feet, it became clear that I had spent my time wisely. Also, I don’t know why they were all in such a hurry—the simple act of sitting down at basic training was a luxury.

I have once again arrived at a significant moment in time where I am in need of new shoes. I have been putting off the back-to-school shopping, partly because I would honestly rather run around barefoot, donning flip flops only to meet the “shoes required” policy of most businesses, and partly because I dread the task of finding shoes with which I will be satisfied. I may visit six different stores and go home empty-handed.

Combine my pickiness with a somewhat socially conscious rejection of certain brands and you have a perfect storm of shoe shopping failure. (Nike sweat-shops in Indonesia, I’m looking at you.) Unfortunately, I must buy some shoes very soon. Since I am not employed by UC Berkeley, I cannot teach my classes barefoot. That was a hippie joke. Fortunately, I do now live in a warm climate, so I do not need to be concerned with the warmth or snow resistance of my footwear. (I am reminded of Joni Ernst’s political ramblings and feel grateful that I am now an adult with my own money and need not save bread bags for inexpensive winter outer wear.)

I may be a cheap b-tard when it comes to store-brand spaghetti and particle board furniture, but I will shell out the cash for the good shoes. Also, it occurs to me that generic store-brand cars should be a thing. (Or was that what the Reliant Robin was supposed to be? Eliminating that fourth wheel really cut the cost.) What is Wal-Mart’s store brand? I want a Great Value Sport Utility Vehicle. They come in three sizes. Make mine an XL. You don’t want to buy shoes like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing Wal-Mart as an entity, I’m just pointing out that there are some things you just shouldn’t buy off-the-rack. Also, Wal-Mart sells shoes on plastic hangers so you can buy shoes off of an actual rack.

In summation, you only get one pair of feet (if you’re lucky.) Don’t make them hurt.