Have you ever watched the way people walk? I was enticed into watching shoppers walking by my seat in Wal-mart as I waited for a prescription to be filled. I began to study them as they moved along. Most of the time, age had little to do with the gait of those who strolled past. Some shuffled, others stepped lively. Many of the older folk grabbed a shopping cart, leaned into it, and hustled inside to collect their groceries. Some of the elderly leaned on the carts for support and nudged the cart along. But those who turtled along were not confined to the older generation. Some of the young people barely oozed by, scarcely lifting their feet.
What caused me to observe the shoppers entering and exiting the store in the first place was the footsteps that I have only seen by young men in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. It is difficult to describe, but I will try. It is a double bounce step; a sort of a hesitation mid-step of the stride as it lifts the foot off of the ground, then the action pushes it farther onto the ball of the foot. It is the pause in the mid-step that drew my attention to those male patrons of Wal-mart.
Then I began to take notice of the parade of shoes that continued to march by my vantage point. Many people in work boots lumbered along. A few young men even managed to do the local double-bounce step. A lot more shoppers entered wearing sneakers of all brands, designs, and colors. The shoes were laced up with bright colors of fluorescent orange, hot pink or electric green. It seemed as though black or white shoestrings are no longer enough.
Penny loafers, mostly in brown, have not gone out of style, nor have the lace up Oxford, dress shoes. Sandals for both sexes appeared, as well as flip-flops that adorned many feet, although some shoppers needed to cover those feet with thick socks and boots.
A new trend that I’ve noticed is wearing shower shoes with socks. I’ve seen people wear them in all sorts of weather. Deluges of rain with streams of water or inches of snow on the ground haven’t discouraged the people from wearing them. I wonder if they wear them for comfort or if it is because of laziness. I am not sure that even if I asked I would get an honest answer. Flats, pumps, and stiletto heels were welcomed to shop with equal invitations. Only the unclad, bare feet are turned away.
Next, I must mention the people who use a cane. They were assisted by the third leg for balance. The people who needed the canes were the elderly or those with casts or splints. Some shoppers were wheeled inside riding a wheelchair with a basket across their lap. Someone strode behind them to assist their shopping. I do want to mention the patrons who ride along in the electric scooters. More and more people I see in them are overweight. Like the age old question, which came first, the chicken or the egg, I would ask the same question, which came first, the weight or the need to ride the self-propelled carts.
Finally, I want to address polished toenails. As a child, I was raised to believe that women who painted the toenails were loose women. It was many years before I allowed my daughters to coat the nails of their feet with polish. Poking out in sandals or flip-flops, unclad painted toes marched in front of me in more colors than found in a package of M & M’s. Some of the nail polish wasn’t thick enough or didn’t go far enough to cover the claws beneath the paint. (See the comment on thick socks and boots.)
On my black metal perch, thoughts registered in my mind and began to write my imaginings on a Sub-way napkin.