I have a brand new pair of shoes.
Now I am only telling you this because for me this is huge. I only buy shoes after long and careful deliberation, when my old shoes are full of holes or practically falling off my feet. When I do have new shoes, I make a big deal of it. I pull them out of the tissue paper nests of their boxes, breathe in their delicious new-shoe smell, and admire the wonder of them on my feet. I would almost leave the price tags on them to show that I, cheapskate Mary, have taken the plunge and shelled out for brand-new footwear. As you can probably imagine, I treat my new shoes with extreme respect, only wearing them to work or 'out', and bending over backwards not to scuff or sully them.
My current new shoes are right-off-the-charts wonderful. They are comfortable, attractive, warm and well-made and, for all that they were on sale, still a good brand. They also have a good, deep tread for walking on icy streets, a real must for a klutz like me.
So the other morning, when I accidentally planted my feet squarely in the middle of a big, wet, freshly-left dog mess right smack in the middle of the sidewalk, I was beside myself with dismay. I'd been busy adjusting the strap on my backpack and I hadn't seen it. But there was no way whoever was walking their dog could have missed it; it would be like missing Texas on a map of the U.S.A.
I did everything I could to get it off my shoes. I tried to get off the worst of it by raking my feet through grass; I used a stick and what Kleenex I had in my bag and I scraped the soles of my shoes on the edge of the curb at every block. But it was all in vain: the stuff had filled every single square millimeter of tread. And it stank to high heaven.
When I got to work, instead of doing the copying I needed to do, I had to wash dog-do off my shoes. I attracted a fair amount of attention in the Ladies' restroom, but after 20 minutes of unstinting effort, my shoes were 99% crap-free. My heart, however, was full of rancor for the people of Glasgow. How inconsiderate for someone to leave such a mess right in the middle of the street where anybody could step on it! What kind of boors would do such a thing? Although a lot of dog owners do clean up after their dogs, Glasgow sidewalks can be a real hazard course. As I sprinted across the campus to get to my class on time, I couldn't help but notice all the steaming piles left right there for me to step on. Every person walking a dog got a long, hard look from me.
Then, during the final 15 minutes of my last class, a student told me a story. Her friend, newly arrived from China, had gone shopping. At some point during the day, she had dropped her wallet, full of cash, her passport, student ID, and a number of credit cards. "In China, if you do such thing, you must forget it," my student said, shaking her head. "You will never see wallet again. But my friend, she went back to home and she had a call from university. Her wallet was there! Somebody find it and give it back!" All the money and documents were still in it too, amazing and delighting the owner and all her friends. "People in Glasgow honest people," they unanimously concluded. I told them my story about losing my mobile phone and getting it back. I was grateful to them for reminding me that there are plenty of good people in Glasgow, dirty sidewalks notwithstanding.
Even the dog-walkers got big smiles from me on my way back -- on the few occasions I looked up.
Friday, 10 February 2012
I have a brand new pair of shoes.