Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Shoes You Choose

ShoesModern society has created some ridiculous footwear — especially dress shoes that people who work in an office environment wear to work. Not only to work, but also to church, to social gatherings, out on a date, and sometimes just to drive around town.

I suspect the problem stems from the misbegotten belief that “clothes make the man” (or the woman).

I’m all for dressing appropriately for social activities, including going to work. But when it comes to footwear, the fashion industry has gone to extremes to give us shoes that are all form and no function. This is especially true for women. But men also wear dress shoes that aren’t much good anywhere except in an office.

Imagine a situation in which you’re at work when some kind of disaster strikes — a massive power outage, an earthquake, flood, or violent storm. Let’s say the disaster shuts down the flow of traffic — subways aren’t running, public transportation isn’t operating, traffic lights fail and the roads become gridlocked. And you end up having to walk home or to a shelter. A lot of folks wear shoes that will betray them in an emergency like that.

I believe in what I call 5-mile shoes. These are shoes that are built strong enough and comfortable enough to allow you to walk 5 miles without foot problems.

Why 5 miles? Because in an emergency situation you should be able to walk at least 5 miles without your feet complaining. It might take that much distance to get you out of the danger zone, especially if there's a hazmat (nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical) incident and traffic is so snarled that walking is your only option. If your shoes aren’t up to the task, they don’t belong on your feet.

In an emergency, your feet might be your only means of transportation. Put the wrong shoes on them and they’ll fail quickly, leaving your stranded.

If you must wear inappropriate footwear for they place you work, I recommend that you carry a pair of 5-mile shoes in your vehicle and have a pair stashed away somewhere at your place of employment. In fact, here’s a better idea, leave your work shoes at work, and travel to and from work in your 5-mile shoes. That way, if something happens on the way to or from work, you’re prepared to walk.

A few years ago, New York City and the region around there was hit by a massive and long-lasting power outage. When the electricity went off, elevators stopped working, all the traffic signals shut down, the subways ceased to operate, and transportation basically came to a halt. Millions of people were trapped in the city, with no viable way to get home unless they walked. Most of them were wearing shoes fit only for a torture chamber.

Did you ever run out of gas, or have some other type of automotive breakdown some distance from home? These days, motorists are reluctant to stop and pick up a hitchhiker, because there are too many crazies out there. So if you break down, you’re probably going to have to hoof it. If you’re wearing the wrong shoes, you’ll regret it.

My recommendation is to examine your footwear, try it out and see how well you do on a 5-mile walk. Then make adjustments to your shoe collection. Fortunately, there are some semi-dress shoes that will pass the 5-mile test. Soft soles with some traction (not smooth leather that gets slippery when wet) and cushioned insoles are a must. Flexible material that needs no break-in is a benefit. For the ladies, low heels (I know they’re not cute, but you know I’m right).

Your choice of footwear is as much a survival issue as any other item of clothing. When something happens and the times are tough, your ability to walk or hike might be a lifesaver. Make sure you’re prepared.

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