Broken. Need new pair.

the sandals -- top view

When I walked in, he didn’t even look up.

A few seconds passed, and the kindly Chinese gentleman in the shoe repair shop rose from his bench and meandered through the tiny, ultra-crowded shop.

He stood in front of me and waited.

I gave him one of my sandals and showed him the broken buckle and the worn out bottoms.

He answered quickly.  Apparently, for him, it didn’t require a lot of thought.

“Broken.  Need new pair.”

Being the kind of person who sometimes needs to hear things more than once, I asked again, just to make sure.

“You can’t fix these?” I asked.

He handed me the shoe.

“Broken.  Need new pair,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said.

He returned to his bench, in order to continue working on a pair of shoes that apparently were worth his effort and skill.

I remember, as a child, visiting that shop, in the first block of East Innes Street, in downtown Salisbury — located sort of in the basement of a building on “the square.”

My father, or grandmother, sent me there a few times, in order to drop off or pick-up a pair of shoes.

Our family’s department store sold a lot of shoes, and I suppose we used that shop’s service for customers who bought high quality shoes that needed new soles.

Other than this pair of sandals, I pretty much wear tennis shoes all the time — and I wear them forever, until they are completely, 100% gone, before breaking down and buying a new pair — so I really can’t relate to getting shoes fixed.

But I wonder how long that shop has been there and who has owned it over the years.  How long has this man been there?  Has it changed owners many times?  Is it a family business, passed down a couple of generations?  Could that same man have been there last time I was there, when I was a kid?  It doesn’t seem like the store has changed at all.

I’m sort of curious and don’t mind, usually, asking questions such as this.  But I dare not ask this man.  He’s busy, with broken shoes everywhere.  His work is tedious and continuous.  He doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would waste away his time shooting the bull in English with a guy like me.

the broken buckle

That buckle broke about two weeks ago.

I knew it was a long shot.

I’m thinking I’ve had those sandals at least ten years.  I remember getting an incredible deal.  I think they cost $12.  It was a mismatch.  One was size ten, the other ten and a half.

I’ve worn them almost every day around the house, and often out of the house.  I wore them to work, on teacher work days.  I’ve worn them to bars.  I’ve worn them in the mountains and on the beach.  I’ve drenched them in ocean water and beach sand — and stepped in, and scraped off, and scrubbed off, dog poop.  Several times.

I’ve looked around town at a few shoe stores already.  In February, there aren’t many to be found.  The ones I’ve seen, I don’t like.  They don’t have tire treads on the bottoms.  They don’t have good arch support.  And they’ve got too many straps.  They’ve got straps on the back, which may require sitting down or bending over in order to take them on or off.  There’s just too much sandal on the sandals.  And they’re way too expensive.

On the internet, I’ve seen sandals that look just like mine, but they’re over a hundred dollars!

Thus begins my quest for a pair of sandals.

the bottom of the sandals

Two things I avoid: haircuts and new shoes

Two things I avoid: haircuts and new shoes.

Today I got a new pair of shoes.

I’ve had this pair for about a year and a half. Wore them every day for a year, until they were completely worn out.

old shoes
old shoes

Then, in January — I got a new pair. I wore those everyday, walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.

About a month ago, this old worn out pair started looking newer than the January pair on my feet (these are better quality; I only paid $14 for the January pair) — so I went back to this pair again.

Today, with sore feet that were crying for more support and padding, I sprung for the new ones — vowing not to go this long again.

There are certainly many more things I avoid. Shoes and haircuts happen to the be ones that come to mind.

new shoes
new shoes

I’m pretty sure I’ve been this way my whole life, even though my father was in the shoe business and I didn’t have to pay for them when I was growing up. There’s probably a psychological connection there somewhere.

Both pair pictured here are New Balance.  I like New Balance because they come in wide widths, they’re reasonably priced, and they’re good shoes.

I used to like the fact that they were manufactured in America. The company website still gives the impression that they are made in this country.

They’re not. The label inside clearly says Made in China.

Nothing lasts forever.  Not shoes.  And not the domestic manufacturing of a shoe that seemed, for years, to defy the market’s pressure for cheap, Asian labor.

I don’t know where the $14 shoes were made, but they weren’t bad at all, really — especially for that price.

In this economy, it’s nice to buy local when possible.

There’s nothing more local than a haircut.  Don’t know why I avoid those.