Monday, February 4, 2013

Putting Your Money Where Your Foot Is

A couple of weeks ago, on one of those minus 20 days, I saw a very odd sight downtown: a young man walking on the snow-covered sidewalk with no shoes or socks on! “Wow,” I said to my thirty-something son, “He must have had a late night.”

“No,” my son protested, “He's a really smart guy and he’s been walking around like that for a couple of years.”

As synchronicity would have it, this very same shoeless chap walked into the bookstore this week. He ambled to the back and very shortly came up to pay for a 736-page critically acclaimed novel called House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. During our commercial exchange I summoned up the courage to ask him why he wears no footwear. His response: “It’s political. I’m protesting the shoe industry with all of its nefarious practices, like child labour and unhealthy working conditions. Plus shoes are just bad for your feet.”

I told him that he was lucky he wasn’t a woman. “Try putting yourself into any of the ridiculous high-heeled contraptions that have been foisted upon women for years.” And with a nod and a knowing smile on his face he left to trudge the cold sidewalks.

That evening I mentioned this chap to a friend of mine who is a teacher. She said that he often comes to her high school to talk to the kids about the politics of shoes. They call him Shoeless Joe and always welcome his visits. I thoroughly enjoyed having my first impression changed from thinking he was a guy who was just coming home from a late-night party to understanding that he was someone who actually walks his talk.

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