"The Foot is-a Gamey" by Troy H. Cheek on May 19, 2008
So, stop me if you've heard this one before. My regular doctor finds absolutely nothing wrong with my feet, which aren't bothering me in the slightest, but decides to send me to a foot specialist anyway. The foot specialist finds absolutely nothing wrong with my feet or my existing shoes, but decides to write me a prescription for special orthopedic shoes anyway. I have no idea what is going on, but decide to go get the prescription filled anyway. I'm told that every step in this process is covered by my insurance, but I'll believe that when I see the Explanation of Benefits from the insurance company.
The nearest prosthetics and orthopedics place was just a few miles down the road, so I figured I might as well pick up the new shoes on my way home. I couldn't see how it would take very long. I'd just give them my prescription, perhaps a copy of my insurance card, tell them my size, pick a style that would be acceptable with my work uniform, and be on my way.
Unfortunately, there was no one available to see me that day. Apparently, you can't just blurt out a size and get some shoes. You have to be measured. Back when I was a kid, pretty much any shoe store had people who could measure your feet and tell you what size you needed. Nowadays, you apparently need a medical degree to do that. The guy with the medical degree had already gone home for the day. I made an appointment to see him the following week.
The following week came and I felt horrible. No, not because of my feet. I felt horrible because I'd spent the whole day cussing because I was going to have to stop on the way home to get my feet measured for a pair of shoes I didn't need anyway and would probably end up paying for out of pocket in spite of everyone telling me that the insurance would cover it, but when I arrived at the orthopedic place, I had to help a kid out of the car and into the office. His prosthetic leg kept falling off, and he couldn't play with the other kids during recess. I swear, had violins been playing the background, I could not have felt worse about myself.
I finally got to see the guy with the medical degree who could give me my new shoes. "Hi, there. I'm Troy. Look, I'm not even sure why I'm here, so let's just make it easy on both of us. If you have some plain-toed, basic black shoes, preferably with velcro instead of laces, in size 10W, I'll be ready to go."
This got me a ten minute lecture on how he was the expert, he had to measure my feet because the majority of the shoe-wearing public wore the wrong size, and that ultimately he would tell me what type of shoe I would be walking out of there wearing.
He proceeded to poke at my feet, poke at my shoes, and generally poke at any part of me that got close enough. He criticized my socks, the length of my pants legs, and my posture. He couldn't find anything wrong with my existing shoes, other than that they must be far more cheaply made than they appear for me to have purchased them for so little and, of course, since I'd picked them out myself, they were probably the wrong size.
He eventually got around to measuring my feet. He mumbled a bunch of numbers, did some quick calculations, and announced my shoe size. "Wuzzum mummun whee."
"What was that?" I asked.
"10W," he told me through gritted teeth. "Did you say black?"
"With velcro, please."
He brought a pair out to me, but they didn't fit quite right. That turned out to be the only pair he had which fit my rather demanding specifications. I explained that I could take pretty much any style and color, but if they didn't meet the uniform code, I couldn't wear them at work, which is where I spend most of my time on my feet each day. We ended up picking my shoes out of a catalog.
I got a call a couple of weeks later telling me that my shoes had arrived at the shop. I was surprised, because I thought I'd filled out a form with my address and home phone number and whatnot so they could be shipped to my home. I told them I'd be by to pick them up in the next few days, but I was informed that I needed an appointment.
I was curious. "Why do I need an appointment just to pick up a box?"
"Well, sir, you have to sign for it."
"Okay, why do I need an appointment just to sign to pick up a box?"
Eventually, they got the point across to me that I'd be doing more than just picking up my shoes.
I arrived at the appointed time, was ushered to a room, and presented with my new shoes. The guy with whatever medical degree you require before you're allowed to measure feet for shoes spent the whole time staring at me. I guess he was checking to make sure I knew how to put on a pair of shoes. The shoes fit just fine, though they could stand a little wearing in. The guy couldn't find anything wrong with my technique or how I walked, though he did drop a smart comment about how I had to sit down to adjust my shoes.
"I'm twice your age and I have no trouble bending over to tie my shoelaces," he announced proudly.
"First of all, you're maybe 10 years old than me, tops," I answered. "Secondly, I'm betting that you've never had your back broken, so there's no reason why you should have trouble bending like that."
I've never had my back broken, either, mind you. I just like saying that.