I got a good deal on some hiking sandals at the local shop. Vibram soles and adjustable straps, they’re last year’s model in the few remaining colors and sizes. Turns out that the ones in dark blue with the extra toe loop that I’d extracted from the box labeled “Men’s 8” were exactly what I wanted. I toured them around the store for a few laps to come to the easy conclusion that they were made for me.

Except, later that day, sitting on the the grass and glancing at the heal of each shoe, I noticed that while the left shoe was labeled “M8,” the right shoe was labeled “M9.” That is, I had two different sized shoes, even though they’d come from the same box.

Here’s the funny thing, though. My feet are actually different sizes, and it turns out that my right is slightly bigger than my left. I hadn’t realized until this moment that this was substantial enough to not realize a difference if the shoes were appropriately scaled. I stood up to verify: each of my toes is exactly the same distance from the end of the footbed.

It took me a few minutes to resolve that this combination really is the ideal. I don’t know how long my feet have been accommodating my uneven gait, one side feeling just a bit less comfortable than the other. Now, for the first time, toes and heels all have the same spacing. My own imbalance is perfectly matched with the unmatched pair of shoes.

I took the shoes and their appropriate box back to the store, not so much to protest but to make sure I hadn’t messed up another box and forcing someone else to buy mixed sizes. But apparently someone else is the proud owner of another unmatched pair of sandals; my mirrored twin wandering around with a slightly larger left foot. In one way or another, all was made right. And left.


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