One Size Does Not Fit All

Is it possible for feet to suffer from P.T.S.D., or was Meghan Williams having one of those crazy thoughts that people who don’t sleep well the night before have while getting ready for work in the morning?  She wasn’t sure, but she was positive about one thing: she did not want to put on her black pair of dress sandals.

Looking down at them she remembered how excited she was the day she bought them, and how proud she was for being able to find such a cute pair in the flat style she preferred.  Meghan never could wear anything with a heel, but most pairs looked like granny shoes if they didn’t have one; so scoring something fun was a win in her books.  It was the crisscrossing straps that made them so.  Starting in the middle of her toes and ending about an inch from her ankle, they gave off a bit of a Greek goddess vibe.

“I’d be the first to banish their designer to Hades if I truly were a goddess,” she said while staring at the offending piece of footwear.

They felt fine when she first tried them on, comfortable even.  Plus they were only thirty dollars.  How could she resist?!  She snapped them up that Sunday afternoon and wore them to work the very next day.

She quickly learned that there was a big difference between trying on a pair of shoes for a few minutes in a store and trying to wear them for nine hours straight.   The first sign of trouble came when she was driving to the office.  The straps dug into the top of her feet the way a three-year-old digs in their heels when they don’t want to go to bed.

“This is just my first time wearing them,” she said.  “I’m sure it’ll be fine once I break them in.”

Her feet were swollen by the end of the workday, and it took a full hour after that for the crisscross pattern to disappear from her feet.  She tried wearing them multiple other times during the first month of summer, but the results were always the same.  In fact, the pain was so bad she’d only wear them as far as her desk and then take them off for the rest of the day, only putting them back on to use the washroom and to go home.

“You paid hard earned money for these things, Meghan.  Just suck it up girl and go to work.”

Another nine hours came and went.  Another nine hours she suffered, but then she caught a glimmer of hope.  On her way home, a detour forced her to take a different route.  A route that sent her past a shoe store.  A real shoe store.   Not one of those stores where they also sell linens, food, appliances and electronics.  And not one of those stores where you walk down the aisle designated to your shoe size and grab a box from the shelf.  This was a proper shoe store.

“I bet they’re expensive,” Meghan said while turning her car around.  “I have to look, though.  I can’t take another moment in this torture device.”

Into the store she went.   There was a decent sized selection, and something else Meghan never saw in the cheaper stores: a Brannock Device.  She had no idea that was the name for it, of course.  She had always just called it “That thing you use to measure how long someone’s feet are,” but it was much more than that.   Invented by Charles F. Brannock in 1925, the Brannock Device measures the length, width and arch length of a person’s foot.  It’s such an invaluable tool, the Smithsonian Institute houses samples.

“When’s the last time you had your feet measured?” the store owner asked after looking at Meghan’s swollen feet.

“I don’t know.  Back in high school, I guess.”

“Have a seat.  Peoples feet change over time.

“Just as I suspected.  Your arches need way more support than those shoes can give you and you need a half size,” she continued.  “Here, try on these,” she then said handing Meghan a pair of new sandals.

Do you know that moment in movies when the hero’s dreams are finally realized and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy starts playing?  That’s how Meghan felt when she put on the first properly fitting pair of shoes to have touched her feet in the past twenty years.  The only thing that dampened her spirits was the price: $105.

“I know it’s a lot of up front,” the owner told her.  “But you’ll have these shoes for years. What you won’t have is any of the pain you’re used to having.”

Meghan bit the bullet and bought the shoes.  The owner was right.  Biting the bullet and investing in good quality shoes is way better in the long run than having a cheap pair bite into you.

Meghan feet was immediately healed of its P.T.S.D. and she vowed never to buy another cheap pair of shoes again.


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