When I decided I would take part in the shoe company TOMS’ annual One Day Without Shoes, a day to bring awareness to the millions of children who don’t have access to something as simple as shoes, it seemed like a great idea.
I was planning a trip to Southern California at that same time. Going barefoot for a day in Huntington Beach, Calif., isn’t much of a chore. I’m in.
Then I realized One Day Without Shoes fell on April 10, the day I was coming home from California. It was to be an already excruciating experience spent shuffling through airports across the country, eating weird rubbery chicken wraps and Caesar salads purchased at shops like The Albuquerque Cafe, or News and Bites.
And this trip, I decided, I would be doing it barefoot — barefoot in Los
Angeles International Airport. Barefoot in Salt Lake City. Barefoot in Indianapolis. Barefoot on escalators and in bathrooms and, conveniently, airport security.
It’s for a great cause, I told myself. People will wonder what I’m doing and ask me about the organization, in which case I can tell them about onedaywithoutshoes.com, and they will be inspired or enlightened and they will give away shoes to those less fortunate and everyone will hold hands and life will be better. That is what I told myself.
When I told my friend Kelly, who had hosted said trip to California, that I’d be walking through LAX sans shoes, she looked at me as if I’d told her I didn’t think Hitler was “that bad.”
“But Erin, you have shoes,” she said.
“Yes, I do, but many people don’t.”
I tried to explain to her about the cause and the website and the shoes and the hand-holding.
She disagreed wholeheartedly.
“TOMS is that company that gives a pair of shoes to a kid in need for every pair that you buy, right?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Tell you what? I’ll buy two pairs of kids’ shoes if you do wear your own in the airport.”
But I was determined. So on Tuesday, I traveled from California to Indianapolis with my freshly painted toes, proudly representing TOMS and the cause in hopes of shoe-giving and hand-holding.
I gingerly walked on people movers, worrying I’d step on some broken glass shard. In an effort to avoid bathrooms, I drank so little water I nearly passed out.
And, readers, I know you are thinking “It was all worth it because of the questions and the awareness.”
Wrong. Fourteen hours after I left California, I returned home, barefoot, having held no hands, having informed no people, having not been asked a single question.
Still, I choose to believe it wasn’t for nothing. I choose to believe it made a difference to someone, perhaps a stranger, perhaps Kelly and most definitely to airport security.
— Erin Shultz
[friday] editor / scrubbed her feet in bleach when she got home