By Paula @ Holiday World

Important Notice to all new Hosts and Hostesses: It really helps to “break in” your spiffy new white sneaks before the first day of work.

Now, that doesn’t mean to drag them through a mud puddle the way my older brothers did as we trudged to Sacred Heart Elementary on the first day of school each year. I mean wear them for a while, walk in them, stand in them. Wiggle your toes. Adjust the laces. You’ll be glad you did.

Years ago, Holiday World‘s “uniform room” was located right outside of my office. A few of those years, we bought hundreds and hundreds of pairs of shoes so our employees didn’t have to go shopping somewhere else for their uniform shoes. We were their sole provider.

All those tennis shoes … well, they stunk! Not a stinky-feet odor, thank goodness, but the rubber, or whatever it is on the soles of the shoes, created an interesting work environment.

Usually there was someone on hand to help outfit the new folks. But once in a while, some poor little newbie would wander cautiously into my office and whisper, “Do you have this in a size 7 narrow?”

Comfortable shoes are very important for park workers. We warn everyone at the Job Fairs that most of our positions require a lot of standing. Broken-in shoes help ease that transition as your entire body adjusts to being vertical for hours at a time.

Rachel and I took a HoliBlog photo walk through the park the other day. We made sure no one was watching and she snapped a shot of one of my new sneakers:

Can you tell the size of someone’s shoes from a photo like this? Well, in the interest of fair disclosure, I’ll tell you. I wear an 8½.

No big deal, right? Nothing to be ashamed of, certainly. Probably downright average.

Long ago, at a former job, my boss decided at the last minute to fly several of our staffers to Los Angeles to attend a huge food show. We all worked for Pizza Today magazine, which originated here in Santa Claus, Indiana (the pizza capital of the world, hadn’t you heard?).

Normally, I’m not a girlie-girl like-let’s-go-shopping-okay? type. But when the others asked me along, what the heck.

After picking out nice outfits which we hoped would make us look a little less like “country girls” (remember how Nellie used to sneer at Laura and Mary?) we headed over to the shoe store.

We were chatting happily, heading down the aisle toward new footwear. All of a sudden, I realized I was alone. Where did everyone else go? Hrrumph! Over in the aisle for Size 5 and Size 6. Good grief, I’d never noticed these women had such tiny appendages. How did they manage to balance themselves in even a gentle breeze?

I survived their teasing that evening, but never did find a suitable pair of clown shoes for my freakishly large feet.

Two days later, we checked into our hotel in Little Tokyo. It was a bit of a cab ride from the convention center, but we were lucky to find rooms at all.

Imagine my delight when I saw there was a shoe store right across the street. Surely in L.A. they would have some stylish shoes for me. I dropped off my luggage and headed over for a look. Only window shopping, as the store was closed for the evening, but it would reopen about 30 minutes before we were scheduled to leave in the morning. And there, in the window, was just what I wanted.

After a lovely stroll through Little Tokyo and a good night’s sleep, I was ready to go. I waited patiently outside the shop’s door while the owner hustled down the sidewalk to greet his first customer of the day.

“Good morning!”

“Good morning, sir! Am I ever glad to see you! Those navy blue pumps in the front window are exactly what I need. If I could just slip into a size 8½ I’ll pay you and be on my way.”

The store owner glanced up at me with a look of momentary confusion. A split second later, I had my answer:

“No, no, no! Nothing that big! Too big! Too big! Maybe four, maybe five — that’s all. Nothing so big!”

This is a family blog, so I won’t tell you my usual closing line to this story.

Suffice to say, the food show was a great experience. And despite tromping around all day in a huge convention center, my tootsies remained fairly happy in my not-quite-new, purchased-in-Indiana, comfortable, broken-in shoes.

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