I was in the library this afternoon checking out a few books and chatting with the librarians. "You gonna take these with you?" one of them joked. "Thought I might," I answered. "I once bought a pair of shoes," he mused in reply, "and the salesmen asked, 'You wanna spote 'em or tote 'em?"
That got me started thinking about a weird aspect of buying shoes -- namely, putting your old shoes into the new shoes' box and carrying them out of the store. Does anybody else fill a slight twinge of wrongness about tossing your used, scuffed shoes -- the ones you came in to replace, maybe -- in that shoebox? It's a moment where things are not only out of place or reversed, but where the superseded item somehow insists on remaining with you. By all rights, those shoes should be carried quietly to a disposal unit behind the store -- some of us would be willing to pay a fee for the service, like when you get your oil changed -- but no. Instead, there you are carrying them out of the store as if they were the item you just bought, masquerading as a purchase you're proud of, while the new shoes on your feet do their utilitarian job.
Actually, it's never easy to know what to do with shoes that have outlasted their welcome. I have shoes that don't fit anymore, shoes that have lost their luster, piled in a corner of my closet. I've dropped them off at Goodwill with other clothes, but I've never felt good about it. Shoes are personal. Shoes take on the shape of your feet. Used shoes seem like an abomination. But I can't bring myself to throw them away, either. Why should items that have served you so well, crafted leather and stitched rubber, end up in a landfill?
How do you deal with old shoes?