Footwear Road Kill – Origins and Implications

While I’ve never seen someone in the act of releasing their shoe into the wild, I’ve seen enough sneaker and boot remnants to know that it’s a real problem.  Every piece of footwear discarded along a roadside has a story to tell.

Footwear Road Kill - Origins and Implications -  Musings on the origins of abandoned footwear often spotted on roadsides‏

  • The shoe complete with sock inserted, on the double yellow line. It looks occupied, but I don’t have the time to come to a stop and check if it’s with foot or without.
  • The high top hanging from the power lines along the road smacks of a wedgie and defeat.
  • The abandoned work boot that’s been drying like a raisin in a highway ditch.  Was this formerly a glass slipper that’s just passed its deadline?

Where are their owners?  What caused someone to reject their footwear along our well-travelled streets? Were the shoes forcibly taken? Is the other shoe in the same place as my missing dryer socks?

While it conjures a pedi X-files of possibilities, we’ll never know the truth about the toes once housed within these orphaned soles.

Perhaps someone was careless and set their shoes on a fender before the car pulled out, scattering slippers hither and yon.  Could it be that a hasty escape from what locals deem a yeti, was responsible for the caddywhompus distribution of tennis shoe and tongue littering the road shoulder? Consider the possibility of a hermit trading up on a lefty, and leaving his old model for the next needy passerby.  Maybe they’re all part of a secret trail of breadcrumbs signaling the location an after hours foot fetish club initiation meeting.

Reflect on the stories of your own shoes.  Do they lead a life of monotony, never tasting the uncertainty that comes with momentary removal in a public place, so that you can feel the grass on your bare feet?  Or have they had their own close call with a life of gutter flotsam and jetsam during a night of drunken debauchery? Have you yourself been on the losing end of an ugly crosswalk encounter with a close stepper?

Whether you listen to the tales that these loafer remains tell us or just concoct your own scenarios, life becomes a bit more playful when you envision their stories.   The world would be a little bleaker without a stray flip-flop mysteriously perched on that rest stop awning, beckoning you to noodle out how it got there.


  1. Jo

    Do these people not NOTICE a shoe is missing? Or are there THAT many one legged people around? If you’ve never read a book by Cecilia Ahearn titled “There’s No Place like Here” it will answer your question as to where all of those missing socks, undies, ties, etc. are.

  2. This is a tragic story indeed (said the shoe lover). I can’t imagine a fate much worse than ending up destitute on the highway. I get angry when someone simply says they want to borrow a pair of my beloved shoes so the thought of discarding them in such a way hurts my feelings. Poor lost soles, poor, poor lost soles.

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