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Shoe on the Side of the Road

By Genevieve Schmitt

I’m going to venture off from my regular spiritually focused content and write about something that’s timely during the summer months, when a lot of us are traveling. I know you’ve seen this thing I’m going to share. Most of us have but never put a thought to it. Well, I, in my inquisitive mind, am writing a whole column on it because I just saw one just the other day and I continue to be perplexed. It’s a shoe on the side of the road. A lone shoe. What’s a piece of footwear doing on the shoulder of an interstate? Did someone toss his or her shoe out the car window? How did it get to be on the side of a lonely two-lane road for goodness sakes!

I’ve seen a many over the years. All different types. A hiking boot. A sneaker. A woman’s fancy sandal. Really!? They’re usually all dirty and warped. Did someone pull over to fix a flat and take off their shoes to do it, and then forget to put one back on? Tell me. How does a shoe come to be on the side of the road? Maybe it was in the back of someone’s pick-up, and it flew out. Is the truck’s draft forceful enough to haul a shoe in the air onto the roadway?

When I’m alone with my thoughts on a lonely highway and I see a shoe on the side of the road, my mind ponders these types of questions. Surely, I have more important things to fill my analytical brain with, but honestly, let’s get real here. How the heck does a shoe get on the side of the road where there are no houses, stores, or inhabitants nearby? It’s such an oddity to me. The pure ridiculous-ness of it becomes mind candy. The first time I noticed a shoe on the side of the road, I didn’t give it more than a passing thought as I whizzed by, but over the years, I’d see another and another, and my mind finally gave in to figuring out the why of this roadside phenomenon. “Another shoe. What is up with that?” Shoes come in pairs and are usually worn by a person. People don’t walk around with just one shoe. If I see a lone shoe, I immediately think how did it get separated from the other shoe—and who’s walking around wearing just one shoe? The lone piece of footwear is always on its side, too. I never see it positioned upright. It always appears thrown, tossed. Who is doing this?

Just for fun I did a search for “shoe on the side of the road.” Aha! I’m not the only one thinking about this, thank goodness! I find out there are others who have had the same questions as me. There are several articles devoted to exploring this whole silly mind-bending anomaly. “Abandoned footwear” even comes up as a Wikipedia entry.

Pondering the “why” of a shoe on the side of the road is merely an entertaining exercise for me, and now it will be for you, too. I bet the next time there’s a shoe on the side of the road that you cruise by, you’ll notice it. Make a car game out of it with your friends and family members by coming up with a story around the solo shoe. Go a step further with one person starting off the story and the next person adding to it to form a funny fable around the forgotten footwear.


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