Millions of people get up every day, shower, get dressed, eat and then they head for the door, stop and lean against the wall with their one hand while slipping on their shoes with the other, then head off to work.
Millions more can’t do four of those things. No water, no food, no nice clothes, and no shoes.
Before I stepped out of the car, I slipped off my shoes and stuck them in my bag. Then I swung my legs out the door and stepped down onto the cold pavement. My socks were a nice cushion for about the first three seconds, but soon the cold was a dull pain on the bottoms of my feet. I missed the warmth my shoes give me. The ground even felt weird. I could notice the cracks in the pavement and feel the little pebbles of asphalt that scattered the parking lot. I am so accustomed to the smooth soft cushion of my soles. And as I started to walk down the sidewalk the ground changed from smooth asphalt to rougher concrete and the bumps and ridges made it uncomfortable to walk naturally.
A car turned into the drive ahead of me and splashed up the water from a nearby pothole across the sidewalk. “Here I go, my first puddle” I thought. I stepped quickly and gingerly across it, but I made enough contact that now the bottoms of my socks were wet and clinging to my feet making the cold I already felt, colder. Still, I was glad I had socks on even if they were wet because now I dodged cigarette butts and freshly pressed gum marks and thought how gross it would be to walk through this barefoot. I know people without shoes often get parasites from walking on contaminated soil. Parasites that cause ulcers, swelling and deformities in people’s feet. Shoes keep my feet clean.
Now the cold permeated my feet and I jumped over puddles in my suit and tie. I narrowly escaped stepping on some glass shards from a broken bottle. I never thought going without shoes for a walk into work could be dangerous! Ten minutes without shoes and already I was faced with cold, pain, dirt and danger. I was able to experience very briefly a glimpse of what it might be like without shoes, but I realize I could never imagine what it would feel like to finally slip on a pair of shoes for the first time in my life…