7:45am Wednesday: I stepped out the door, coffee in hand, wearing my black canvas TOMS. I was looking forward to going to the “One Day Without Shoes” TOMS one mile walk in Venice, but couldn’t help feeling slightly awkward going by myself since the friend that was supposed to accompany me was still in bed, sleeping off a hangover. I reminded myself that I had been planning this for weeks and that it would be worth feeling awkward to experience the event.
7:55am: Half-way down Lincoln I realized I had forgotten change for the parking meters so I found myself parking in the neighborhood behind the Venice Canals. I left my shoes in the car started speed walking/half-jogging down the alley to Washington to make it to the pier on time, dodging puddles as I went. By the looks I received, I must have looked sort of crazy. A barefoot girl in jeans running down the street at 8am? I probably would’ve stared too.
8am: Made it just in time to catch Blake Mycoskie’s speech to the crowd before starting the one mile walk.
8:10am: Began the walk down the boardwalk with over 100 other people who came out to support TOMS’ cause. I ended up walking next to two middle-aged lawyers, dressed in suits without shoes. They told me that they decided to come out for the walk before heading to work. They would’ve liked to spend the entire day without shoes but unfortunately couldn’t go barefoot in the office. I never caught their names.
8:15am: A little ways down the boardwalk, the lawyers fell behind and I ended up walking next to a young elementary school teacher. She had decided to take a few kids from her class to the walk before school started that day. She attempted, in vain, to explain to the kids why they weren’t wearing shoes, telling them how many kids go without shoes each day. The kids were more amused by trying to walk on the small bits of sand that covered the boardwalk since their feet had already started hurting. I eventually lost them too as the teacher ran off to try and catch the kids that had wandered off.
8:30am (1/2 mile): At the halfway point of the walk, we stopped to wait for the rest of the group to catch up. I looked around at the crowd, hoping to see someone else there alone who I could talk to, and was greeted by a tall messy-haired guy next to me. He asked how long I had been a fan of TOMS and where I was from; I asked him the same questions, trying not to think why is this guy talking to me? He told me that he lives in Culver City and works in Online Marketing for TOMS. At this point, I tried to contain my excitement since I would love to work for TOMS, and continued to semi-discretely ask him about internships at TOMS. A minute later, I found myself laying down on the cement with everyone at the event. We all stuck our bare feet in the air to yell for the camera man “It’s hard without shoes!” then struggled to get back up to continue the rest of the walk.
9am: I finished the rest of the walk on my own, catching bits and pieces of the conversations of the people around me. Some of them had class later that day, some would be heading to work, and a good majority of them actually worked for TOMS. I even overheard a woman who was out for her morning walk ask Blake Mycoskie why everyone was barefoot, and after learning about the event, took off her own shoes.
Even though I’ve been a fan of TOMS for a few years, this was my first time participating in “One Day Without Shoes.” I have to admit, after the walk I put my TOMS back on for the rest of the day – I couldn’t believe that my feet already hurt after walking just one mile. I spent the rest of the day looking at the feet of every person that walked past me, hoping that they might be participating in the day. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single person. Next year I’m definitely participating in the walk again, and hope to get others to join me. I’ve already started filling out the application to start a TOMS campus club!