• Mona

Quality Shoes

How teachable life can sometimes be.

Like my one hundred and twenty dollar shoes in Charcoal Creek. Hard evidence to the fact that sometimes the harder we try, the further off we are. As my Easy Spirit shoes from San Diego’s Fashion Valley can attest to.

Always on the look out for a bargain, especially shoes, I hit upon a pair in JC Penny while in the states. They were $120 US when the bargaining began. The clerk offered me 30% off right off the bat, then an additional 20% if I signed up for a credit card. Which I never do, but today I considered an exception since the shoes checked all the boxes. They were feather light, easy to get on, good fit, and very comfortable. Besides I could write them off on my income tax as an aid to my mobility issues. I started humming my friend Wayne’s favorite Mark Knoppler song, Quality Shoes as I contemplated my good fortune.

What the teenage clerk failed to disclose was the 30% off was hidden behind an unknown promo pull-tab. We must’ve ripped through a 12 inch stack before we found a 30% one. Next we had to fill out a full-blown application for a credit card. Another 30 minutes. But the thought of half price kept me kind and humming.

When the statement arrived a month later, they dung me a $25 credit card set-up fee. Knocked down a notch but not deterred, they were still my “good shoes”.

Not long after, I had to get a new leg brace that only would work in those shoes. So as Murphy would have it, they became my ‘everything’ shoes overnight. Black in summer. Leather in winter. But oh well, they fit my brace and for the amount of winter walking I did, they looked half decent.

One brilliant April day, after being cooped up all winter, Brinkley and I decided to take a back road drive out through Turtle Valley to Falkland. Having urgency bladder problems with MS, the red light came on. And a quaint picnic spot right on the highway happened right then. Charcoal Creek Provincial Park.

It was an outhouse oasis. Never mind being a government ambition with matching picnic tables and perfectly bark-mulched trails to fire pits beside a crisp babbling brook. It was bathroom-break heaven for both of us.

But I got more than I bargained for. Besides an unlimited fresh water bowl for Brinkley, there were endless gopher holes, some live. The game was on. Chances of a fast pit stop dwindled fast, but the clear blue skies and my patient attitude approved. Pouncing on holes in no particular sequence, Brinkley’s tail flapped faster than windshield wipers. The measley Milkbones held out were lame in comparison to the forested playground with little mounds of dirt every three feet.

But between the drag marks from the bad leg in the bark mulch and the methodical but strenuous ankle workout over round river rock, I was loosing patience. Coercing became threatening. To no avail. The more I tried, the more exuberant the game became, wiggling butt and wagging tongue. I was ambushed once again into chance dance of the Beagle Boogie.

I finally surrendered to the back of my hatchback to wait it out and had a tailgate party of my own. With nothing more to do, I looked around and noticed my “good” shoes. My scuffed, dust laden Quality Shoes.

With time to reminisce if they were still indeed my good shoes, I concluded they clearly illustrated want vs. need. I wanted those shoes. Yes, I needed a particular kind that had definite attributes, but it didn’t necessarily need to be those ones. With Brinkley’s beagle nose not ready to let up an inch, I had time to dig a little deeper. I discovered the shoes weren’t the problem. My attitude was. It’s funny how I can justify anything. Then when it turns out to be less than desirable or disappointing, I look for blame. That silly clerk…stupid service fees…

I pondered where else I might’ve put wants ahead of needs, careening from pillar to post in the name of a good deal. I wondered where else I justified a want all the way to the bank.

When Brinkley finally played herself out and a Milkbone looked pretty easy, she hopped in the car. I couldn't be mad anymore because if it hadn’t been for her playing with live gopher holes, I wouldn’t have stopped long enough to get that teachable moment.

They’re right. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Even if she has four legs and long ears.

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