As I passed a sports shop in my local shopping mall this morning, my favourite shoes were on display. My current shoes show that they’ve been much loved. Thread by thread, they threaten to reveal my big toe. Their replacements are long overdue.
I picked up a shoe and turned it over.
My current shoes became my favourites when our extended family was caught in a rain-storm in Brisbane. While I walked along the wooden esplanade through the down-pour, family members who were with me slid and skidded, performing balancing acts that should only be seen on ice, after practice—not by my mum in her 70’s.
My feet stayed secure. The little round ‘lugs’ molded into the base of my shoe created mini-suction cups. So I stuck to the walkway like a gecko on a wall.
So, prompted by the display this morning, I picked up a shoe, tipped it over to press on the little molded lugs on the bottom, with the same delight as popping bubble wrap,
the little molded lugs had gone: Replaced by inserted plugs of what can only be described as aerobic exercise mat.
‘Spongy,’ the shop assistant said to me.
‘Disappointing,’ I responded. ‘Those others stopped slipping. I don’t think these will do the same.’
I didn’t tell her that with my vast experience of sporting equipment (I can hear those who know me, laughing!) those little plugs are intended to fall out.
‘Change.’ she said. ‘Change doesn’t have to be so scary. I think that manufacturers don’t change things to make them worse, but to improve them.’
My mouth (surprisingly) didn’t speak the ‘Yeah, right!’ that my face obviously did.
I saw her discomfort and said ‘It’s the little changes that are the most annoying.’
She laughed, then sidled up next to me.
‘See those track pants along there?’ She pointed at a clothes rack on the other side of the store. ‘Standard stock for years. This year they have elasticised ankles.
People hate them.’
‘Especially those who are 5’ 2” I reckon,’ said me, looking up at the shop assistant who had much longer legs than me. Her eyes looked puzzled and she shook her head. I tried another tack.
‘It’s like computer programs,’ I said.
She grabbed her hair at her temples,
I smiled. ‘Yeah. It’s those little changes: Some bright spark decides a widget would look better in a different place, might work better a little differently, or should be removed because it doesn’t appeal to his personal taste. And we, the consumers, don’t get to choose what we want.
Big changes you are forced to accept. You have to adjust your mindset. Allow yourself to grieve. Get on with life.
It’s all the tiny changes that drive you nuts.’
We both paused. I put the shoe back on the bench and said, ‘I’ll go home and think about it’.
She didn’t make a sale. But I realized I have more in common with Gen Y than I had thought.
And I went home to discover another thread had pinged on the toe of my favourite shoe.
P.S. After I came home to write this story, one of my family asked me to pick them up from a different shopping centre. And there, on sale, was a new ‘old’ pair of my favourite shoes complete with molded lugs that stick like a gecko on a wall.