When it comes to flip flops, there’s no question I get my money’s worth.
But maybe it’s time for a new pair. At least that’s what was going through my mind recently as I sprawled out on the floor of a Mexican restaurant.
Hold on a second, I’ll explain.
Like many people, I’ve been working remotely for the past several months amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. Not all jobs fit neatly into the work-from-home box, but mine is particularly well-suited for the model. While I certainly prefer the collegiality of working in a newsroom, where co-workers can more easily soak in institutional knowledge and swap information about stories and sources, the truth is the job can certainly be done remotely with today’s technology. I can just as easily type a story at my kitchen table, and if I need to cover an event, I just grab my laptop and smartphone, hop in the car and go.
One of the side effects of working from home a lot more, and being at an office a lot less, is that I tend to dress a bit more casually. And that’s saying something, considering I already wear shorts just about everyday anyway, pandemic or no pandemic. But it has ramped up in recent months.
Indeed, this has been the Golden Age of Flip Flops.
Now, if I have to go out in the field and cover something, I’ll throw on proper shoes, of course. But if I’m writing stories at home, most of the time I’m padding around the house in flip flops, and wearing them as I walk the dog or head out the door to run an errand.
To be certain, I’m not a snob when it comes to flip flop brands. In fact, the cheaper the better. I prefer the rubbery ones you can get at Old Navy that are like three pairs for $10. They barely classify as footwear. I think those flip flops the inmates wear at the county jail are probably more substantial. But, they are comfortable.
I’ve got a pair that has been my go-to during these pandemic months. I think I’ve worn them so often they are actually beginning to meld to my feet. The problem is they are finally starting wear out. I’ve walked basically all the tread off the bottom of them. I definitely have gotten my $3 out of them.
But a moment last week signaled that it’s probably time for a new pair.
We have a favorite Mexican restaurant where we get takeout at least one night every week, and on Wednesday I called in our order and we headed over there to pick it up. I was of course wearing my beloved flip flops.
It had been raining for most of the day and the parking lot was pretty well soaked as I half walk-jogged up to the door of the restaurant. Once I stepped inside, I quickly found out the combination of the restaurant’s tile floor and the slick bottom of my decrepit flip flops that had just trudged through the rain were a bad mix.
I slipped just inside the door, and went airborne. A lot flashes through your mind in the brief moment before you hit the ground when you slip and go airborne while picking up Mexican takeout: Embarrassment. Potential injury. Queso.
When I finally landed on the floor like a big bag of fertilizer, everyone in the restaurant stopped what they were doing, as if someone hit the pause button. A family dining at a nearby table gave me sympathetic, but concerned looks. Well, except for the father. He seemed quite amused. He knew he was getting dinner, now he was also getting a show.
The employees at the restaurant were exceedingly nice, and went over the top asking if I was OK. I assured them that everything was cool, and that I was fine. And I was, except for the fact that I’d just reenacted a scene out of The Three Stooges in the middle of their dining room.
Of course, no one got a bigger laugh than my wife when I returned to the car and told her what happened. She literally laughed until she cried. She offered no questions as to my well-being, but did offer — once she was able to breathe again after laughing so hard — that I was going to “be sore in the morning.”
Flip flops have been in heavy rotation during the pandemic, but I think it’s time to invest $3 in a new pair.