One Shoe Phenomenon

Have you ever come across a single shoe in your travels? You know somewhere where a shoe shouldn’t be. Like in the middle of the road, in a tree, under a hedge. I come across them all the time. It’s like the “I see dead people” phenomenon, except I see “one shoe”!

So what happened? Where is the other shoe ? Why didn’t someone pick it up? Most of the time the shoe looks quite okay, no sign of aging, no signs of major wear and tear. It takes a lot to abandon shoes; it takes even more to abandon just one.

If you have seen an abandoned shoe, have you ever wondered how it came to be there ? There must be thousands of abandoned shoes. But the strange thing is they seem to never be lost in pairs. You only ever see one! Now if I lost one shoe I would notice, probably quite soon after it happened. So why wouldn’t I go back and pick it up ? Now if, on the other hand, I decided to discard one shoe, I’d probably throw the other one away with it. But it doesn’t seem to happen that way. It is only ever one. It’s the “one shoe” phenomenon.

I first noticed this phenomenon when I was ten and went on a trip to Hong Kong. On one of the many pointless package tours for first time visitors , I came across my first “one shoe”. We were at a Chinese Cemetery (don’t ask) and it had just finished raining. Floating in this enormous puddle, next to an outrageously decorative headstone, was a sandal. It was there for no apparent reason, one sandal upside down in a puddle. Being ten, I took a photo. This was to be the start of my fascination with the “one shoe” phenomenon and the beginning of my pathetic photo collection. I kept my “one shoe” phenonemon to myself for many years, due to my fear of being ridiculed.
But one day during my uni years, after one too many sundowners, I mentioned my observations to a few fellow students, who after a moment of silence, all nodded and laughed. They too had experienced the “one shoe” phenomenon. Stories came thick and fast about how they had seen a single high heel shoe in the middle of nowhere and thought it was probably from a murder victim. One person found one pink fluffy slipper in a sand dune. Others talked of a lone sneaker on a train or a stiletto by a lake. By the end of the night we were all scratching our heads in wonder. One thing everybody agreed on was , there was only ever one. But no one could come up with a logical explanation about why there was only ever one and why there are SO many “only ones”.

Shoes tell a lot about a person and it seems this Phenomenon is not gender, race or class specific. The demographic of the type of shoe found indicates there is no socio economic group prone to losing just one shoe. In fact most people I speak to about the “one shoe” phenonemon noticed the shoe because it was a decent looking one. I can understanding people tossing an old worn out shoes but a large percentage are pretty damn good.
By the way, in this observation I am excluding children’s shoes because there is usually a logical explanation for why they are where they are, the shoe’s either been tossed from a car window by an older sibling, forgotten or left on purpose.
Another thing I noticed is the Phenomenon isn’t country specific . I have traveled around the world and the “one shoe” Phenomenon is everywhere. It can’t be that the whole world is forgetful.

How many ways can someone lose a shoe? It’s tied, strapped or laced to your foot! If I lost a shoe I would trace my steps back and try to find it. Given most “one shoes” are found in obvious places there must be more to it. Even if 50% have accidentally lost one shoe, how can you explain the other half ? The most puzzling of this type of phenomonem is that the shoe is usually in a noticeable place, like the middle of a busy intersection. It’s right there in plain view, so if you lost one, it wouldn’t be hard to find.
And how come so many “one shoes” are found in the middle of the road, not the side , the middle. Think about it! Side of the road, maybe it was thrown accidentally from the car window. Middle of the road? Do you know how hard it is to lose a shoe in the middle of the road? I don’t know, it makes no sense. Too many “one shoes” to make sense.

A few months ago I noticed one woman’s black dress shoe lying on the road near my house. The shoe grabbed my attention as there was no logical reason for it being there unless it was thrown there. It was near a bridge with no accessible footpaths and it looked in very good condition. It looked like a shoe a Flamenco Dancer would wear. Every day I drove past this shoe and everyday it just sat there, sometimes it was in a different position on the road (but I put that down to the numerous cars which had driven over it). I thought about the shoe every time I passed it. It was good shoe it deserved a good story. How could someone misplace such a distinctive shoe, a nice shoe a shoe with class? Was the owner scratching her head wondering what happened to her other shoe; did she have to miss dance class as a result, had she emptied her closet in search of the missing shoe? Lets face it isn’t like losing a sock where you can mix n match if you can’t find a pair! No one picked up the shoe; it just lay there until finally the road sweeper carried it away. Why didn’t the owner see it, right there in the middle of the road? If she was embarrassed she could have retrieved it at night. Was there a great story behind the shoe? Was the shoe ever missed?

Heavens I still think about my favourite shoes when I was a kid. There was always a favourite, the ones that could never be replaced because they were no longer made, the white addidas with the blue stripes, the knee high ugg boats with the laces, moccasins which never came back in fashion. I remember them all, but I can never remember losing just one shoe, a pair, yes, when my dad threw my favourite sneakers into the incinerated because they stunk, but never just one. I think it would be pure torture to wonder. I remember when my car was stolen with my favourite pair of shoes in it, a year later I received a phone call from a policeman saying they had found my car. I was excited I would finally have my shoes back. When I asked him if I could still drive it, all I heard was a roar of laughter down the line. My car was a wreck, in fact a stripped shell on the side of a road, they had even taken the windscreen wipers. But to this day I still wondered, what the hell happened too my shoes and who the hell would want them (and windscreen wipers!). So I can imagine what it would be like to lose just one shoe.

I once found one perfectly good work boot at a road stop out in the boonies (country). How could this be? It was just there lying in the dirt, hardly ever worn. If it was accidentally left on top of the car, where was the other one? Anyway how many shoes are left on top of a car’s roof. In fact I have never seen anyone drive with shoes on their roof and again there are far too many “one shoe” Phenomenons for this to be the case. What other logical explanation could there be?

I have never spoken to anyone who has said damn I lost a shoe. I wonder if shoe shop owners have heard from customers who have.

And what about the “one shoes” found in remote out of the way places. What’s going on there? You climb for hours up a mountain and there is a Reebok cradled in a rock. You look around, you are all alone, you inspect the shoe, its perfectly good. You wonder! Nope can’t think why its there. There can only be a handful of reasons for it being there a) it was accidentally left b) the person had his/her foot wedged in the rock pulled too hard to free themselves and are now dead at the bottom of the mountain (minus a shoe) c) got blisters, had a tantrum abandoned the shoe d) didn’t like the shoe and placed it there in protest E) Disgruntled Reebok employee. I just don’t know. All I know is every time I see “one shoe” it gets me thinking about how it got there.

Could it be alien abductions, people zapped up so fast they leave a shoe behind.

My assumption is that people who have lost only one shoe were probably not wearing them at the time. Limping is not a good look and it attracts attention. If it attracts attention, you would notice that they are only wearing one shoe! Think about it, how many people do you see walking around with only one shoe on. If you lose a shoe you know about it, unless of course you were carrying it in a bag or something. Only a small amount could be absent minded enough to forget their shoes because lets face it you would soon notice if you were missing a shoe gravel hurts.

Next time you come across a lone shoe, just think to yourself “why on earth was that shoe left there”. If you ponder for more than a minute and come up with no logical explanation…..

Welcome to the “One Shoe” Phenomenon Club.

5 Comments so far

  1. Jan on November 10th, 2008

    Wow, I have wondered this all the time. I would hate to lose one shoe, I like my shoes. I almost want to throw one out, is it for luck? But I won’t because I don’t know why I would be doing it. Come on someone, if you have lost one shoe, let us know how it happened. WHY?

  2. CarolZagala on November 10th, 2008

    OMG I can’t beleive there are people out there that wonder about the one shoe Pheonomnon like I have for the last 30 years. I started noticing this at the age of 16, right after I had gootten my drivers License.
    My thoughts have always been why one shoe, why in the middle on the Highway, Freeway, or in the parking lot?????
    Thanks for your insight, I’m not crazy I thought I was cause nobody has ever mentioned it.
    What possesed me to finally look on the Enternet was on my way to work this morning- yep one shoe in the middle of the street, and it looked brand new!!!

  3. Tom Johnson on December 5th, 2008

    Wow, you really cover the subject. I have come across the same thing. Once in a great while a person may place some dress shoes (or casual shoes) on the roof of their car and forget and drive off. One falls off, later the second. But, many times they would fall close enough to see both! And that would not account for so many. Or the beach (do dress sandals or high heels fall off boats?) This has been called the Single Shoe Syndrome. I have found old scuffed shoes, but most are in great shape (except for the damage from cars). Some are formal heels (like a suede high heel shoe fit for a prom). I saw a woman’s dress boot, calf high, along the road. If jokers are stealing their date’s boot/heel/sandal and tossing it out of the car, wouldn’t we hear the victims talking about it? Lawsuits (your honour, he tossed one of my $200 boots out the window on our way to dinner)? I have wondered about this for years. Ever put your photo collection on the web? TJ

  4. Diana Crockett on April 10th, 2009

    Now you’ll have to think back about all the times you saw the single shoe and do you recall if any time soon after did you have someone you knew who needed your help? I have been told each time you see a single shoe someone you know will need you to help them in some way. I used to see single shoes all the time, now that I have been told this I have not seen one since. So I still cannot anwser if this is true or not. (and no I dont recall the other times I did see, if someone needed my help or not)

  5. Tim Anderson's on June 8th, 2009

    Ive always thought about this as well! i can’t find a explination behind this as well. Ive asked a few people if theyve ever lost a shoe before and they just laugh. Once i saw one newish nike air max in the middle of the countryside. It’s souls where a little worn but the sneakers them selves where in fab condition. Nobody walked along that bit of road as it was 15 miles away from a small town. I drove past it every day and it seemed to move up the road each day then one day it suddenly had gone! it seems like if the shoes walk by themselves but thats not a logic answer! An other answer is ghosts! if you type haunted fetish ghosts it often says ghosts steal a shoe! but this answer has no proof! It certainly amazes me though.

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