Thoughts for No One in Particular

Reflections on shoes

Maybe it is an Asian thing.


For many of us, we normally bow instead of shaking hands when we meet people. So our gaze necessarily slips down… for me, down to the shoes my counterparts are wearing. I usually take a long hard look at their shoes before raising my head back up, even before I take a good look at their faces. Thus, my first impressions of others are most often of their shoes.


Maybe it is not the right thing to do – to judge people by how they look.

But just to clarify, I do not judge by what kinds of shoes are worn, but by how they are worn.


Do the shoes fit their feet without any blisters on heels or toes jumping out somewhere?

If the feet are squeezed into the shoes, maybe the people wearing them have a tendency to squeeze in other things, like their needs and wants and preferences.


Are the soles properly maintained, not excessively or asymmetrically worn out?

If the soles of the shoes are not well-maintained, maybe the people wearing them do not pay attention to, or get ahead at the cost of, the hidden details.


Are the shoes polished, kept shiny and without scars?

If the shoes are not polished, maybe the people wearing them are not good at taking care of, or do not have the eyes to determine, what is truly of value in keeping them going.


Oh, and an additional Asian checkpoint… when shoes are taken off, as often done when paying a visit to someone’s house, are they put away to the side, aligned facing the door?

If the shoes are left just as they are taken off, maybe the people wearing them lack consideration for others who may come through the doors after them, or are not too good at preparing for even the most obviously foreseeable future.


Maybe I am reading too much into people’s shoes?

Maybe judging people by their shoes is no more accurate than reading the stars?


Well, in my mother tongue, there is a phrase “looking at others’ feet.” It means taking advantage of others – in the olden days, wagon drivers looked at travelers’ feet to see how worn out their shoes were and infer how tired they were, and got them to pay more than they were willing to for rides.


Now, maybe the shoe inference is a lot more logical than you might think?

Maybe it is just my thing and not for everybody… but I’ll tell you this, I have yet to be completely off the mark with my shoe inferences!


Maybe shoes are not just protection or fashion. Maybe they are reflections of you in some way.


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