A precautionary shoe tale

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Tim Istock 

For the Clemmons Courier

Once upon a time, there was a man who had a favorite pair of shoes. He wore them to work, church and all other social occasions that called for dress footwear, and he was happy.

Then, one day the unthinkable happened . . he lost them.

Here is how it happened. After finishing work one day at  “The Baptist,” he opted to swing by the gym and sneak in some exercise before heading home. However, after his workout he chose not to change out of his gym clothes and back into his work clothes, and instead simply gathered up all of his things under his arm and hurried out to his car.

The next morning the following conversation took place.

“Honey, have you seen my shoes anywhere?”

“No, I don’t keep track of your shoes. Don’t you normally leave them in the closet?”

“Yes, but they’re not in there.”

“Well, they couldn’t have just up and walked away. For now, you’ll just have to wear another pair until we can find them.”

After work that day he returned to the gym to see if maybe he had accidentally left them there, but alas, nothing in the lost and found box but a couple of mismatched socks and a tattered Wake Forest sweatshirt.

Dejected and discouraged, he climbed into his car, made a beeline for the entrance ramp on I-40 just west of the Hawthorne curve, and squeezed his way into the 5 p.m. rush hour convoy blasting its way westward and taking no prisoners.

What happened next had to be seen to be believed.

Coming around a wide sweeping turn in the inside lane, he spotted a couple of strange looking objects out of the corner of his eye lying next to the large concrete median barrier separating east and westbound traffic. As he got closer, lo and behold, if it wasn’t his beloved shoes. Not only that, but both of them were sitting neatly side by side, as if someone had personally walked them out to the tiny narrow buffer zone and carefully placed them there.

“Oh my Lord, it’s my shoes,” he cried. ”But how?”

Then, like a shoehorn upside his head, it hit him.

In his haste to get on the road after leaving the gym the day before, he had temporarily set his shoes on top of the car in order to free up a hand for extracting his car keys out of his pants pocket. In the process, he had obviously forgotten to retrieve them before motoring off and they must have slid off the roof as he sped around the sharp curve.

But his exhilaration over finding his favorite shoes was quickly extinguished by another more sobering thought.

How in the world could he ever hope to rescue them? This portion of the freeway was one of the busiest in the city, and being located on a curve meant that fast approaching traffic was nearly impossible to spot before it was already on you.

And so day after day the man was forced to drive past his orphaned shoes, sitting like silent highway sentinels, bravely bearing the daily brunt of rain, mid-summer heat, and a daily dose of roadway smog.  Their continuing presence served as both a testament to their impressive durability as well as a constant reminder of one man’s absent-minded stupidity.

But if that were the end of the story it would be a sad story indeed, now wouldn’t it?

Instead, one fine day the man awakened to find his trusty shoes sitting back in their familiar closet spot. Now how they had managed to end up there he hadn’t a clue, but when he rushed to tell his wife of the miraculous discovery he quickly found out.

It seems that following a graveyard shift at her downtown Winston office, his intrepid wife had pulled her car over onto the shoulder of the freeway in the pre-dawn hours, carefully scanned the road for oncoming traffic, and then, risking life and limb, quickly darted out into the center median to snatch up the shoes before scurrying back to the safety of her waiting car.

Whew. And there you have it, a tale of tragic loss, jubilant redemption, and great daring all wrapped up into one.

Now, you’ve probably gathered at this point that the man in this story is me, but what you may not know is that I’m still married to that same brave woman who rescued my beloved footwear, and yes, I still own the very shoes, albeit a bit worse for wear now and mostly retired from daily active duty.

Oh, and the moral of the story?

Simple, if you’re going to temporarily place something on the roof of your car, make sure it’s something expendable like your cell phone or wallet rather than something irreplaceable like your favorite pair of shoes.