what wearing saddle shoes taught me about a new job


As a junior high school kid in Oregon in the 60’s…yes, I wore saddle shoes.  We were cool in saddle shoes and knee socks and plaid kilts.  

But it didn’t start out as cool.  It was a progression in the shoe story.  Back “in the olden days” we went to the shoe store before school started and put our feet with clean socks for the occasion on the metal measuring rack and the man in the shirt and tie (it was quite awhile before women stepped into that domain) measured our feet.  Kind of squeezed in the sides and pushed the metal ruler top down against our toes and pronounced our shoe size.  No going into Payless or Shoe Warehouse in those days.

Stepmom decided I needed some foot correction and my sixth grade was marked by the year of slug green lace-up shoes I wore.  For church I got to wear my clicky shoes; the dove grey flats that made click, click sounds on the tile floors as I danced my way in the line of kids heading into church. Whatever the correction was, and I always just thought it was her parental dispensation toward icky support shoes for kids, I wear high heels nicely now so, ok…..

Back to the saddle shoes.  The new shoes seemed huge, cumbersome, clunky and just in-your-face screaming NEW SHOES NEW SHOES NEW SHOES when it was only cool to have nicely worn shoes.

Like stepping into a new job.  There’s no way to avoid the NEW JOB NEW JOB NEW JOB effect as I learn the ins and outs of a new place, new people and new role.

My girlfriend had a plan to ride her bike dragging her feet on the pavement scruffing up her new saddle shoes to hurry-up the break-in time.   The pavement  ate the leather toes and they looked awful; like rats got at them. Not the effect she was going for.  So, I just wore my shoes through the awkward stiff stage until they became pliable and adjusted to the nuances of my walk and I fell in love with them.

I’m wearing my metaphorical saddle shoes in the new job and already the leather is softening and feeling good.  The secret is to walk through the awkward stage; don’t try to rush it.  Before long I’ll feel like a cool kid with nicely worn saddle shoes again!




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