Sunday, March 26, 2017

goodbye, Rockports

When I bought my Rockports way back in, oh, 2011 or so, they set me back nearly $80. They fit perfectly on the first try and never needed to be broken in. I wore them faithfully for years, and recently, I wrote about getting them repaired.

And now they're gone.

Perhaps this is my fault, but I think the fucker who actually threw my shoes out is more at fault than I am. I had originally brought my New Balance walking shoes to work in a plastic shopping bag in order to take them out to the shoe guy up the street during lunch. While I was with the shoe guy, he insisted on making me wear my New Balances to show me how different they would feel once the insoles had been removed. I had no choice but to take off my Rockports and stuff them into the plastic shopping bag.

I wore my New Balances the rest of the day, and because I had been planning to walk that night, I left my old, battered Rockports—still in the shopping bag—next to my desk, thinking I would take them back home the following day. The next day came... no Rockports. Because I know my memory often plays tricks on me, I sat and thought hard about whether I had perhaps taken my shoes home with me the night before, but that was impossible: I had gone for a walk without the extra encumbrance of those shoes. The only possible explanation for my shoes' disappearance was that the old guy who cleans our office at night had seen the bag next to my desk, assumed it was garbage, and thrown the shoes out.

So I wrote a note in Korean and left it where the cleaning guy would see it. The note basically said, "The shoes you threw away were NOT garbage. If possible, PLEASE get the shoes back to me." I went home and checked around my place to see whether my shoes had somehow ended up in my apartment... nope. Nada. I hadn't hallucinated.

The following morning, I got an apologetic note in return, which somewhat disingenuously said that my shoes had been placed "in the garbage" (which wasn't true), so the guy had thrown the shoes out. The reply note went on to say that the cleaning guy had tried to look for my shoes, but they had already been taken away. The note finished with a promise never to make that mistake again. I bitterly noted that the custodian had misspelled "sorry" ("재송합니다"). A man who can't properly spell "sorry" probably shouldn't be expected to tell garbage from not-garbage. Perhaps this was all my fault, after all.

I'm upset to lose such a nice pair of shoes. Those old Rockports were the right width for my feet, whereas my new Rockports need some stretching. It feels as though nearly a hundred bucks went down the drain, but then again, those shoes were—apologies for the pun—on their last legs. I'm just glad that the guy hadn't thrown away my new pair of Rockports.

Anyway, lesson learned: if I leave an important bag on the floor in my office, I'd better tag it as NOT GARBAGE, or it'll get chucked out by our clueless custodian.



John Mac said...

Ah,too bad. I guess with depreciation you are only out twenty bucks or so, but still condolences on losing an old and comfortable friend (pair of friends I reckon).

On the bright side, if this is the worse thing to happen to you this year, it's gonna be a good one!

Kevin Kim said...

Indeed. Thanks.

Charles said...

I don't know if I would say that you were at fault. Yes, you might have gone through a careful thought process that led you to the conclusion that it would not be a good idea to leave your shoes next to your desk... but people do stuff like that all the time. Yeah, I definitely wouldn't call it your fault.

Your tale made me think of a funny thing that happened to me once, though. I was with a Korean church team in Mozambique, and the missionary there warned us not to leave our shoes outside of our tents, because the locals might come along and walk off with them--not because they were inveterate thieves, but because anything left out in the open was considered public property.

Naturally, we all left our shoes outside of our tents anyway that first night. The next morning I was the first to get up (I was actually the team leader, which kind of made me responsible for things), and when I opened up the tent flap and looked outside... my shoes were gone. I looked around at all the other tents and saw that all the other shoes were gone as well.

In that brief moment I went through the five stages of grief. No way. This cannot be happening. We did not all just lose our shoes. Argh! Why didn't we listen to the missionary?! What is wrong with these people?! OK, God, if you'll just somehow get our shoes back to us, I swear we will never leave them outside the tents again. Oh, man, I can't believe this. We just got here and now we have no shoes. This sucks so badly. No, no, it's going to be OK. After all, humanity survived for thousands of years--and still survives in many places--without shoes. It's only two weeks. We can do this. It will be good for us. It will be a learning experience.

All of these thoughts went through my mind in far less time than it took me to type them, of course. It couldn't have been more than five seconds after I opened my tent flap that the missionary came out and greeted me. "Good morning! Just wanted to let you know that I took everyone's shoes and put them inside so they wouldn't be taken."

Needless to say, we never left our shoes outside our tents again during that trip.

Cold comfort, I suppose, but I just thought I would share.

Kevin Kim said...

I bet that missionary had a cruel streak and wanted to teach you all a lesson. Makes me think of Lou Gossett's character in "The Guardian."

Charles said...

Actually, no, he didn't have a cruel streak at all. Had that been the case, he wouldn't have told me about the shoes first thing in the morning. Had the shoe been on the other foot (ahem), I probably would have waited a while.

Kevin Kim said...

I was being facetious about the cruelty, but part of me does wonder why he didn't tell you his intentions before you all went to sleep. Heh.