My old pair of Nikes must have come with an expiration date I didn’t see. I tend to wear my shoes until I wear them out, especially those we euphemistically call tennis or track shoes: I haven’t played tennis or run track in more than 40 years. On me, they’re walking shoes, and I do a lot of walking. My practice is to generally keep two decent pair and alternate them so the insoles can recover between hikes (so the shoe store salesman said: I’m skeptical).
When the shoes start getting really run down, they move down the ladder and become painting, gardening, or lawn-mowing shoes. My yard doesn’t really qualify for the term “lawn,” so it’s more accurate to say I was cutting the grass a few days ago when part of sole came unglued, sprung loose, and almost tripped me. Then, within two steps, the same thing happened on the other shoe. Amazing that they could time it like that. I was tempted to get the Shoe-Goo and glue it back on, but I had another pair waiting in line for yard duty, so sent them on down the line to the landfill.
I think of myself more as thrifty than cheap, but I like to get the full use of something before throwing it away, unless it’s still fit to donate. We never buy a chicken, for example, rotisserie or raw, without boiling down the bones and scraps to make broth, which we dutifully save in recycled yogurt containers and freeze. We do the same thing with vegetable peelings, and rarely have to buy broth for the various soups we enjoy eating.
My thriftiness has led to a bit of frustration lately. As my 2009 Prius crept past 180,000 miles and we had several long trips on the docket, I decided to buy a new one (white, like every other car I’ve bought since 1994). I went with the Prius Two “Eco” model. It’s a bit stripped down, and uses lithium batteries to lower the weight and increase mileage. It came with free oil changes for life, and with me that’s a long life, so I plan to get my money’s worth. The frustration comes in passing gas stations with really cheap gas, but not needing any. I routinely get 60-65 miles to the gallon, sometimes more. With an 11 gallon tank, I only need gas every 650-700 miles. It’s a poor thing to fuss about, I know: it’s the folks down at Sheetz who have reason to complain.
We kept the old Prius and plan to put many more miles on it, too, even though it gets only 45-50 miles per gallon. I may still frown occasionally when I have to pass up a good deal on unleaded, but it saves the temptation of going inside for a big Slurpee, and I make up for it by smiling at the SUVs lined up at the pumps.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.