Strange But True Stories in Fort Payne, AL: My Shoes Crumbled Apart on the 2nd Day of Work, Then I Had to Escape From a Bathroom Stall

You should walk a mile in my shoes… if they don’t disintegrate first.

Between my 4 months of unemployment and my current job at GameTime, I did a brief stint for a company I highly respect, but I knew I wasn’t a good fit there.  So after about a week and a half, I left them.  The following events took place during my first and only whole week there.  Even if they thought I seemed like a normal person who doesn’t encounter Jack Tripper-like situations, they will learn the truth now.

The weekend before starting the job, I came across a forgotten pair of some of my favorite shoes ever at my parents’ house.  So I wore them to church.  That went well.  Sure, I bought them in the year 2000 from American Eagle, but they were still cool and showed no signs of needing repair.  Very wearable.

So I wore them two days later on my 2nd day at work.  After the first hour passed, I noticed what looked like chunks of mud all around my desk and leading up to my desk.  Then when I got up to walk to the printer, I noticed one of my shoes felt especially “springy”.  That was because the middle of the sole had fallen off- along with various other parts of my shoes.

Right as I had realized this, my boss came up to me and asked me if I would be ready within the hour to go out and make some sales.  I said yes, then immediately called my wife to have her bring me some different shoes.  It worked, and I had about 15 minutes to spare.

The next day, I worked up enough courage to enter the bathroom stall which had a warning sign posted saying that the latch was broken and that I shouldn’t lock the stall door.  So I did it anyway.  I ignored the sign.  Good thing I’m limber. Though the distance from bottom of the stall to the floor was only about 18 inches, I was able to escape.  I’m glad, because this particular bathroom is located on the other end of the building where no one ever goes, and besides, I had left my cell phone at my desk.

I’m sure someone figured out it was “the new guy” that walked right through that warning sign and got locked in the bathroom stall.  But at least they never knew about my shoes crumbling apart.  Until now.  That’s just how the shoe crumbles.

Note to self: Copyright the phrase “That’s just how the shoe crumbles”.

Manspeak, Volume 2: Heroism

Subconsciously I view handymen and auto mechanics as super heroes. Because the only thing I can build is a Lego house and the only vehicle I can fix is a Lego car. While I’m not a “slow learner”, I don’t learn new skills quickly. It takes daily practice for at least several weeks before I master something new. So to see a man who gets daily exposure to these expected masculine events, I can’t help but have admiration.

Any laugh track infused sitcom that features a typical “dad figure” has had at least once episode where there is a need for home repair and the man of the house rises to the occasion (against the advice of others in the household, namely the wife). Of course, the man botches the job for the comedy highlight of the episode: On Who’s the Boss, Tony “fixed” the toilet upstairs but smashed a hole in the floor which he fell into, causing only his butt to be visible from the living room ceiling by his family below. On Perfect Strangers, Larry “fixed” the shower but it caused the shower head to shoot water across to the other side of the bathroom and blasted Balki in the face, who decides to just stand there with his mouth open and drink the water instead of move out of the way. And as for Home Improvement, “man hilariously attempts home repairs” was the theme of every entire episode.

The fact that under-qualified men continue to try to fix things when they don’t really know how to, is a universal issue. Why? Because it is a man’s job to fix things. It is literally the way men were wired. A woman says to a man, “Our garbage disposal isn’t working right. I think we should call someone to come fix it.” The man hears this: “You’re a man, capable of figuring out how to fix this, but instead, I’m going to call another man to get the job done because he’s more qualified than you”. Shrinkage follows at just the thought of another man walking in the door with his tools.

A man walks around with this hidden fear that he will not be successful in life. In all ways big and small. If he can’t successfully make the evidently simple home repair, he fears he may be seen as insufficient, incapable, and useless. When he longs to be the hero. And hiring someone else to do the job makes him feel unnecessary. May seem a little over the top, but being a man, I recognize the tendency of thinking in terms in worst case scenarios about this stuff.

This also explains the all too familiar (yet somehow not cliché because it’s so true) story of the man who won’t stop to ask for directions. It’s a man’s job to explore and find his own way if he’s lost. A major sense of accomplishment if he can do it. And just for the record, he’s not lost. He’s either taking the scenic route or the short cut (depending on how much time is delayed).

One of my proudest accomplishments regarding home improvement was when I turned down an aggressive salesman who knocked on the door one sunny Saturday morning. If I signed a year-long contract right then since his company was already in the neighborhood, his company would regularly spray my house for bugs for the low, low yearly fee of $545. He inspired me to immediately drive to Lowe’s and purchase a 5 gallon sprayer for $11. Needless to say, I now consider myself a professional bug killer.

Last week as I was getting ready for bed I heard my wife scream loudly from the stairs. My initial thought is that someone broke into the house. I ran over to the stairs to find the intruder to be a wolf spider. A very large scary spider that appeared quite afraid to end up lost and confused at the top of the stairs. I took on the form of the 1984 no nonsense straight-faced Bill Murray, racing downstairs to transform the vacuum cleaner into a proton pack with which I sucked up the monster with great force, feeling the vibration of the thump as it was crushed to death by my weapon. I was a hero. An ego trip shortly followed.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: