Remember how at school you had your indoor shoes and your outdoor shoes? And you were never supposed to be shoeless, like, ever?
Let me tell you about the day I learned why.
Okay, so it was grade two. I had had a really wonderful teacher for the greater portion of the year, but then she got knocked up and had to ditch us for the last few months. We got a long-term substitute. She was not wonderful. Okay, okay, she wasn’t mean,* but she wasn’t our teacher.
Our teacher had beautiful long, blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a young, pretty, round face with rosy cheeks. She was very kind. Basically she looked like Sleeping Beauty, except she wore her hair in a 90s half ponytail a lot of the time – with scrunchies – so she was cooler than Sleeping Beauty.
I really liked her. Not as much as I liked (see: LOVED) my first grade teacher, but I liked her enough.
Our substitute teacher had a harsh looking bob and she always smelled like cigarette smoke masked with too much perfume. She also had a really fake smile. I just couldn’t connect with her. Plus, since I was a little kid, I saw her as the reason our real teacher left, so she started off on the wrong foot with me anyway.
My first elementary school was set up with a huge library/assembly hall as the central square of the building, with two offshoots on either side that had classrooms. So you often had to walk through the library to get where you needed to go.
One day, I was walking through the library to get back to my classroom. I can’t remember why I wasn’t wearing shoes, but I know I had a good reason. I was by myself and the library was quiet, so maybe it was after recess and I had taken longer to get to class because I had to use the bathroom or something. Regardless, there I was, walking through the library in my tiny sock feet when it happened.
I took a step and felt EXCRUCIATING PAIN.
I looked around and realized that one of the bookshelves was broken at its bottom corner, and there were some chunks and slivers of wood stuck in the carpet. And one of the chunks had just stabbed me in the foot.
Guys, I’m not talking about a sliver, like an almost invisible particle going into my foot. I am talking about a WOODEN STAKE, stabbing through my sock and into my foot right on the arch.
SIDENOTE: Okay, it wasn’t a STAKE to a human being, but to put things in perspective for you, it was large enough to be a STAKE if you had to stab, say, a vampire version of a guinea pig or medium-sized bird. It was a few inches long, and probably a few centimetres in diameter.
So there it was, just sticking out of the bottom of my foot. I freaked out, not wanting to touch it, and limped on my tiptoes back to class to find my “teacher” and ask her for help.
She wasn’t very impressed.
First, she asked me where I had been, ignoring that I was in tears. Then I showed her the WOODEN STAKE coming out of my foot. She showed minimal concern and told me to sit down and put my foot in her lap. So I did, thinking that she would try to carefully remove it.
SHE BROKE IT OFF AND LEFT A CHUNK IN MY FOOT.
And that was her solution.
She told me to put on my shoes and get ready for gym class.
I was crying. I told her it was still in there. It was still hurting me! She assured me that she had removed the sliver and said it again: “Put your shoes on for gym.”
When I told her I couldn’t possibly go to gym class with a sliver in my foot, she looked at me like this:
And I’ve always been a people pleaser and a bit of a pushover in an overly nice Canadian way, so I carefully slipped on my shoe – OMGITHURTSOMUCH – and limped on my tiptoes to gym class.
And I limped through gym class.
And I limped through the rest of the day.
All the while trying to ignore the intense, shooting pains in my foot.
SIDENOTE: I WAS IN GRADE TWO. I know this story is about me, but that poor child!
When I got home, my mom rushed me to the medi centre to get the GIANT FUCKING CHUNK OF WOOD out of my poor, tiny, eight-year-old foot.
Needless to say, I never set foot in that stupid library without shoes on again.
P.S. Sometimes wearing shoes didn’t work in my favour, either. Once, when I was in grade one or two, I took off my indoor shoes at the end of the day to slip on my winter boots…and some asshole had strategically placed thumb tacks in the bottom of them. Luckily I didn’t step down with full force. Stupid kids.
*By the time I finished writing this story down, I realized that wait a second, YES SHE WAS.