Donning a pair of new or fashionable shoes is oftentimes characterized as being synonymous with happiness. There are many fictional references in which a pair of shoes is portrayed as having made the situation better. Think of Cinderella—a pair of shoes changed her life, Dorothy’s shoes in the Wizard of Oz brought her back home and if you ask me, Inspector Gadget had the original SpringBlades. Shoes make us feel good. That’s why we purchase them, care for them and maybe even collect them. But for some, the ability is a luxury. Not too long ago I came face-to-face with this jarring reality.
I met a teenager whose family fell on hard times. He wore a size 16 shoe and it seemed as if his feet weren’t done growing. He explained that when it comes to sizes that go beyond those typically available in stores, the shoes have to be specially ordered and cost more than the average shoe. The teen was forced to wear the same pair of shoes and endure the ridicule of his peers.
With the school semester gearing up in a few weeks I knew he would be under pressure to go back with a new pair of shoes. I thought back to my years in high school when all of the “cool kids” had the latest and freshest kicks. I told Denard about the teen and he was compelled to send him a few pairs of shoes. The teen rejoiced—exclaiming that he had more shoes than he could wear at once. His reaction definitely answered my question: “Why shoes?”