Russ was aware of the problem with his shoes, but he refused to take any action.
Looking down, he saw the shoes, scuffed and gouged beyond all recognition. Once, they were a shining black, carefully brogued, a fine oxford of the fanciest design.
Now, they looked like black swiss cheese on his feet, or like he suffered from a maggot infestation. It didn’t matter to Russ, he still wore them.
Around him, people talked. They did so quietly, whispering and discussing how he dressed so well, but his shoes were so worn. They mentioned his fine suits, his ties, his well-pressed, button-up shirts. Why, they asked, could he not give the same care to his shoes?
Russ himself didn’t think of it this way. Shirts and pants were easy to care for. A tie, even easier. But the work of shining and polishing shoes, only to walk on them? That was something Russ didn’t understand. They would only be scuffed again within the week, and require another polishing. Maybe two weeks. Some of his coworkers went a month or two, but always showed up, eventually, with little mirrors.
But why bother? he thought. Shoes were shoes. Something to get from point A to point B. Nothing more.
So his shoes continued to deteriorate, until finally, with no other recourse, the stitching came loose and they flapped open. Russ’s feet were left to the elements.
The next day, he bought a new pair. When he showed up to work, everyone was amazed, delighted, discussing how much better he looked. He received compliment after compliment.
Three months later, life returned to normal, Russ’s shoes dulled and scuffed, his coworkers whispering once more.