Charlie’s Room: Odd Shoes
When Isaac got to work, he realized that his shoes didn’t match. They were both black, but one was a loafer and the other laced up. That should be pretty hard to mix up, so everyone believed he’d done it on purpose.
“Is it in protest of something?” his boss asked. Before he could answer, she continued. “I don’t really follow the news. If you’re leaving early to go to some sort of rally, I’m going to need to know in advance. I think it’s great that you’re standing up for your beliefs.”
“I don’t need to leave early,” he began.
“Great. Well, I’ve got a meeting to go to,” she replied. And then she turned and left before he could explain that the odd shoe thing was an accident.
He ate his lunch in the break room. By the end of his lunch break, the other employees were divided on whether the odd shoes was some sort of fashion statement or a plea for attention. They ignored his protests that it was neither.
They called his boss in, and she told them it was a political statement. “He told me all about it this morning.” Everyone nodded. “I forget what he was protesting though. Ask him on your own time. It’s time to get back to work.”
Isaac left work late, because he kept stopping to tell people it was an accident that he wore odd shoes and he wasn’t really supporting anything with his shoe choice. Except that yes he did want to save pandas and public libraries and national parks, he just hadn’t been thinking any of that this morning. And what did they have to do with shoes anyway?
He called ahead, because it was his day to cook and he wasn’t going to have time to make curry after all. Marianne told him to pick up pizzas on his way home. At the pizza store, they asked if it was a publicity stunt. They told him that a local author always dressed up as his main character when he had a new book out.
“I think I was just extra tired this morning,” Isaac said. “I’m not really sure how I didn’t notice.”
They looked at his shoes. “Right,” one of the workers said. “Maybe you shouldn’t drive anywhere early in the morning when you’re that tired.”
Isaac looked down at his feet. Was he a danger to society in the mornings? Usually he woke up bright and early without any problems. He didn’t remember being unusually tired this morning. How had this never happened before?
Charlie and Marianne met him at the door. Marianne took the pizzas to the kitchen while Isaac changed out of his shoes. He crouched down to untie his left shoe, but it was a loafer. Both shoes were now loafers.
“How was your day?” Charlie asked.
“My shoes didn’t match,” Isaac said.
“They’re black. Doesn’t that go with everything?” Charlie asked.
“No, they were different earlier.”
“They changed colors?”
“No, the left one was lace-up.”
Charlie looked at Isaac’s shoes. “Really? Well, it’s fine now. Maybe you just imagined it.”
Isaac pinched his arm. He wasn’t dreaming. “I don’t think so. Everyone kept asking me about it.”
“Huh.” Charlie poked Isaac’s left shoe, then picked it up and turned it around as he inspected it. “Well, it’s fine now. Maybe it’s like that weird noise the car makes sometimes.”
“The one that comes and goes and doesn’t seem to mean anything at all?”
Charlie put the shoe down. “Yeah, like that. Maybe sometimes things are odd for their own reasons, and we’ll never know why.”
Isaac took the shoe and looked at it. It looked just like the other loafer. “It’s still really odd. No one else’s shoes decided not to match today.”
Charlie shrugged. “Maybe they did and you just didn’t notice.”
Isaac thought about it. He hadn’t noticed anyone else’s shoes. He didn’t normally look at people’s feet. But it seemed like everyone had noticed his shoes. Didn’t that mean it was unusual? Maybe everyone else’s shoes were just less obvious about it.
“Maybe you’re right,” he said at last. “Let’s go eat pizza.”
The next day, his shoes stayed matched. He never did find out why they’d decided to go odd one day. Perhaps they were secretly very passionate about saving public libraries.