This Labor Day, I want to thank the hardest-working pair I know:
Look at the above picture of my sandals. That, my friends, is love. Or, hate, I suppose, depending upon your definition of love.
My sandals have been with me for years. I've had just two pairs of Birkenstock sandals since I started wearing them. I started wearing them back in college. I graduated from college a decade ago.
My preferred shoe is the sandal. My preferred sandal is a Birkenstock, a specific style, a specific color. My sandals are the sole thing I wear that I'm particular about. (Sole. Get it? Get it? Yeah, maybe I should retire that one.) Most of the clothes in my closet are presents. If it fits and it doesn't look TOO ridiculous, I'm good. But as for my sandals? Those have to be perfect.
If I could get away with it, I would wear sandals at all times of the day when I wasn't barefoot. I'm still waiting for someone to invent business sandals. It's going to happen. It has to.
So this latest pair of sandals and I have had many good years together. Countless walks through Chicago. All across Washington, D.C., especially a memorable walk to the Washington National Cathedral, which I still believe took about three days. Literally around the entire island of Puerto Rico. (Or maybe it just felt that way.)
Anywhere I've gone, my sandals have gone with me, dutifully protecting my feet from glass, sharp rocks and – most importantly – bubble gum. They've paid the price – as you can clearly see – but even this week they've carried me along on a pair of two-hour walks.
Soon, they will be retired. My wife surprised me with a much-needed new pair of Birkenstocks for my birthday. And even though we had to send them back for a different pair – I'm quite neurotic about the style and color – my current pair of sandals know their days are numbered.
We'll go on a walk later today, maybe to Lincoln Park Zoo, maybe along the Lakefront Trail. They'll again work to protect my feet as they have for so many years through so many different places.
They are the hardest-working inanimate objects I know. Thank you, sandals. You've done your work well.
• Joe Grace is a writer and journalist who lives in Chicago with his wife. Write to him at email@example.com. Subscribe to him on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheRealJoeGrace. Or you can like the Going For Gusto Facebook page at Facebook.com/GoingForGusto.
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