It was a Thursday evening on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I was heading into a friend’s place—a swanky building much nicer than mine, with a doorman and touchscreen-equipped elevators. And it was in the elevator where I stumbled upon a man—rather, the shell of a man—who gave me more anxiety than the bucketing rain submerging the streets outside.
What I’m referring to are rubber skins one slips on over their actual “indoor” shoes. They’re like raincoats… for shoes. Like the shell of a shoe worn by the shells of humans devoid of dignity.
That man in that elevator made me appreciative of my shitty Brooklyn walkup, where neighbors’ wet shoes left in the corridor trip one another and we’re all greeted with the first floor’s muddy doormat that reads, “Come the Fuck In.” It’s fine; it rains, shoes get wet, we stomp on the mat and kick ’em off outside our doors. We hope no one steals them, and life goes on.
This elevator mystery man, however, didn’t need to kick his shoes off when he reached his residence—and I’m sure as hell he didn’t have any witty mat outside that door. Maybe a decorative wreath. He’d be the kind of single guy to have a wreath (and I’m assuming he’s single), because he was the kind of guy to have galoshes.
If you’re wondering—and I applaud you for your ignorance if so—galoshes are waterproof overshoes. They’re not to be confused with rain boots, which are also called galoshes. What I’m referring to are rubber skins one slips on over their actual “indoor” shoes. They’re like raincoats… for shoes. Like the shell of a shoe worn by the shells of humans devoid of dignity.
Traditionally, galoshes are made of liquid or sheet rubber, and some are lined with fabric or feature fasteners to tighten the loose shape at the ankle. Nowadays, galoshes are also made of microfiber fabrics or treated nylon and have rubber outsoles. They’re intended for those who want to don their favorite fancy footwear on rainy days and still look sharp. But the thing is that they’re as much woman repellants as they are rain repellants.
We live in backwards times, when the Blakes out there are wearing boat shoes on dry land and then wearing formal shoes when water’s falling from the sky. And I realize you should never judge a man before you walk a day in his shoes—or galoshes—but might I ask what ever happened to the rain boot? What happened to the commuting in rain boots and changing into those monks or derbies? And what is an “indoor shoe” anyway? Aren’t shoes inherently designed to be worn outdoors?
Let’s take a step back. What we now recognize as galoshes have been around since 1890, but legend has it that the Egyptians were the first to make them by pouring liquid rubber over wooden foot-shaped molds. We’re living in a different time.
Sure, we walk around in a culture short-circuited by relentless demands with our noses stuck in our smartphones, answering emails, scheduling Skype calls and pinging colleagues before we even get to the office. We’re all harried, short on time; there’s not enough hours in the day. But there are 1,440 minutes in a day, and I’m willing to bet that changing your shoes would consume no more than two of them. That leaves 1,438 minutes to read through mostly bullshit email subscriptions for which you have no recollection of signing up, schedule meetings to talk about scheduling meetings, IM your coworkers stupid memes and do whatever else it is you do at work.
Maybe you don’t want to change back into boots for your lunch break or to run out for a quick client meeting out of the office. That’s why, unlike the ancient Egyptians, we’ve got Seamless and Uber. You don’t have to be outside hurdling puddles or dodging pellets; your food can be delivered and your car service will come to you.
Wearing galoshes says you can’t be bothered—you can’t be bothered to take just a moment to sit down to swap your shoes to look like a grown-ass man, which means that the wreath on your front door is also deceptive. You’re a liar. A lazy liar.
The point is that you should wear your shoes, or don’t wear your shoes and change into said shoes. But ditch the overshoes. They’re freaking people out in confined elevators.