A year in my shoes.


This was supposed to be easy.  Throw a picture up, toss out some words and poof!  Instant post.  Instead it’s over four days past my plan of posting and I’m still struggling.

I fell into the trap of overthinking. I needed new work boots and wanted to explain why I picked those originally and why I switched to something else.  The idea was good, but the words that came were so sterile and analytical.  Completely uninspiring and off-putting for me. I wanted something else, something better.

Kinda like my boots.

The boots I had were so disappointing this time.  They were Wolverines.  I’ve owned four pair of Wolverines in my life and three of them were this style. This pair just did not work.

You see the toes?  It took just one day for the leather covering the steel safety caps to wear off.  I was weeding and the shuffling of my feet against the asphalt wore the leather off by the time I was done.  The boots were one week old at that time.  I’ve had that happen with $30 boots, but never Wolverines.  There was no way I could explain this as normal wear and tear either, so I didn’t bother to call or write about warranty work.

The rest of the boot was fine.  They still were comfortable and supportive.  Together, we dug, moved, pushed, hiked, crawled, and even kicked through our work time.  I had noticed that this set of boots wasn’t as flexible as the earlier ones.  It took more effort to flex on the balls of my feet.  Still they did their work, but the stress was showing.

Then the rains hit.

Florida is known for its torrential rains, but this one was impressive.  It wasn’t tropical in nature, but the results were the same.  Roads closed, traffic diverted, trees fallen, electrics under water, and hundreds of fire-ants huddled together in a ball, just waiting for some poor soul to latch on to.   The last time I saw flooding like this was after tropical storm Gabriel.  The water was so high that the utility vehicles stalled from the strain.  I pushed mine off to the side.  It took three days for my boots to dry completely.  The leather never fully recovered.

The final straw came when the left sole split completely through.  I hadn’t noticed it until the day I had to clean brush out of a drained canal.  The area was drained, but not dry.  Its mud was slick and water seeped up with every step.  My soaked sock alerted me to the crack the boot’s sole.

It was time for a change.

But to what?  I sifted the search engines, read articles, and waded through the horribly arranged Amazon filters.  (It was easier pushing the utility vehicle through the flood than it was trying to find decent work boots with specific requirements on Amazon.)  Given the events of the year, I came up with an unusual result.  Jungle boots.  What other style would handle the abundance of water, humidity, and mud?

Jungle boots are not the easiest things to find.  Rack Room Shoes, Sears, and all the other usual stores were out and while I will buy some things online, boots aren’t one of them.  You have to go to an army surplus store.

Army surplus stores are very interesting to visit.  Tucked in the corner of a strip mall, they can be as bright and organized as Dick’s Sporting goods, or as dark and cluttered as a Hollister’s run by teenage boys.  The store I found was a mix of both.  The lights were low, but everything was organized.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any Jungle boots.  They did have other choices.  Desert boots, training boots, combat boots, parade boots, boots for almost anything.  I had no idea what to look for at this point.

So I asked for help.

The lady listened to what I wanted as well as the price I was willing to pay.  She offered a pair that is light, flexible, durable, and well-constructed.  They aren’t water proof, but they are good against high humidity and dry quickly.  They also are bought by police and fire fighters who are used to standing in their boots for long hours at a time.

I’ve had them for a week and they have handled having the toes scraped against the concrete, heavy mud, miles of walking and flexing of the soles.  So far I’m impressed.  Only time will tell if they last they year.  A future review will be coming.

In the end, this article is similar to my journey into new boots.  I struggled with it at the beginning and took many unexpected turns along the way before ending in an upnote.

With the creative damn broke, I look forward to the journey ahead.


A missed opportunity

Yellow eye stared at me; slowly sizing me up as I looked back.  I stood still and stared back in disbelief.  The bobcat was right in front me!  I had been busy hand pruning the inside of a hedge when I saw his legs go by from the other side.  I figured he’d see my UTV and walk around it.  Never did I expect him to walk in between it and open gate I was in.

It was the boy-cat, too.  I had seen him a few weeks ago walking side by side with his mother.  He was smaller and young.  While he had a nice coat, there were no spots on it yet.  Looking at him, I could tell he was roughly the height of my four year old Yellow Lab and weighed about 50 to 60 pounds.  He was lean.  He ate well, but the wild rabbits at work have no fat and this cat was all muscle.

He was also very used to people.  A resident said that the bobcat had brushed up against him early in the morning one day;  Just like a house cat.  That resident now checks his surroundings very carefully now before heading towards his golf cart.

Almost lazily the cat turns his head and strolls away.  It took me a few seconds longer to react.

“Here kitty, kitty.”  I called walking after it.  “Here kitty.”  (I blame The Nomad Grad for this.  If she can stare down full grown lions, I should be able to pet a bobcat that rubs up on people.)

The cat thinks I’m a little nuts and walks a little faster.

I stop, disappointed.  Then realization kicks in.  I was in a fenced enclosure with a five foot wide hedge covering three sides, a wall blocking off any real opening on the “open” side, and a mini canal connecting the wall like an “L”.  I had no where to go and the cat was blocking the only exit.  He is faster and can jump higher with much less effort.  Not a good spot to be.

I watch as the cat walks down the street along the wall until he finds the opening in the woods to cross over to the other residential park.  Then, loud noises from landscaping machinery on that side brings him back.

I see him walking towards me hugging the trees that are planted near the wall. Clearer minded this time, I walk out of my enclosure and put the UTV/Mule between us.  The cat turns into the trees ahead of me and disappears.

I lost him.  I didn’t see if he kept moving or if he decided to just lay down.  Is he behind the trees next to the wall?  Did he crawl under the little bit of chain-link fence that connects the wall to the mini canal? I don’t know.  All I know is that I have to get back to work.

I sneak up the small embankment and peer in between the tree line and the wall.  Nothing.  Maybe he left or decided to walk towards the woods instead.  (Across the street and down the road roughly a block away.) I never found out.  I took a moment and started back trimming.

My only regret is that I don’t have a camera on my cell phone.

That would’ve been one hell of a picture.

Daydreams of: The Job

The new guy walked wearily into the shop for break. His eyes blinked as sweat burned his irises. Dirt caked in the rings of his neck and arms.  Wet vegetation covered his boots in a heavy layer that seemed to crawl up his legs and pepper his entire body.

He half collapsed into a torn and faded chair when the supervisor said to him, “So how you liking your first day on the job.”

He looked back at the supervisor and said, “It’s better than asking if you want fries with that.”

Brought to you for the Trifecta Challenge.