The Right Way, and the Wrong Way

In this world of feel-good self esteem enhancing delusions, we often let things slide. We give trophies to the losers, we tell them (and ourselves) that we’re “all winners”. We “agree to disagree”.  We keep our mouths shut when the skate shop employee opens up a box of Powell bearings and discards the bearing spacers before popping the bearings into a new setup, leaving the axle nut loose with lots of sideways slop in the wheel. We know it’s wrong, but weary of beating our heads against a wall of ignorance, we allow this kind of travesty to go unquestioned. We tell ourselves “fuck it, I’m 47 years old with no kids, so in probably less than half a century it won’t matter to me anyway”.

And so it goes. Little by little, the right is done wrong, the good becomes bad, and order descends into chaos.

As a skateboarder, my shoes are critical to me. They are the interface between me and my board. So when it is time for a new pair of skate shoes, I feel the stress upon me. Will the dictates of the fashion industry have deleted my current favorite “model” of shoe from the available supply? Will my favorite shoe have been abandoned due to low sales, caused by unpopular “colorways”.

Well, today was the day. My Vans Johnny Layton (known in hip skate culture as the “JayLay”) are in need of replacement, so I made my yearly trip to the Vans store at the mall.

As luck would have it, it turns out that this is a “seasonal” shoe. WFT? It is a skate shoe…what does the season have to do with anything? Well, this is apparently not the right season, so I looked around, settling on a similar shoe, the Vans TNT. Same gum-rubber sole. Same fit. Enough support to help my feet not hurt for at least a little while.

Which brings us to the real subject of this article.

As the young employee brought out the shoes, she cheerfully asked if I’d like her to lace them. Knowing what would result, I quickly said “That’s OK, I’ll lace ’em”.  But no, in trying to provide good customer service (for which I applaud her), she insisted on lacing the shoes.

Was I watched her lace the shoes, I’m sure she could hear my teeth grinding. For you see, like everyone under the age of about 40, she was lacing the shoes incorrectly.

For your inspection, I present the picture below. To the left is my old, correctly laced shoe. To the right is the new, incorrectly laced shoe.

The correct method, on the left, has been used successfully for thousands of years.  Laced this way, it is easy to loosen or tighten the shoe to your desired adjustment. At the top of the shoes, with the laces coming out the outside of the shoe, the laces are easily accessible for tying.

The incorrect method, show on the new shoe on the right, makes it much harder to adjust the shoe’s tightness. Tying the shoe becomes more difficult, as the laces come out at a weird angle.

I suspect there are several factors involved in the popularity of the incorrect lacing method.

  • The incorrect method appears well-suited to people who don’t know how to tie their shoes. Or those too lazy, stupid, or unethical to tie them. It facilitates the act of simply pushing the laces into the shoe, hiding one’s shame of know having shoe tying skills.
  • I have heard that merchandisers prefer the incorrect method as it “looks better” on display. Well, OK, the do this in some fancy New York shoes store. Not in a skate shop, or the mall-approximation of a skate shop. 

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