The most caring feet in the world

The Rapid Traveler’s travel evening was unremarkable except that he is now only batting .333 on TSA Pre-Check out of Altanta, and the captain started the flight with an announcement of mechanical problems and once those were resolved, segued to “those who travel to the New York area often are familiar with ‘ground hold’…” Enough of that, just part of the routine.

Sometimes going overseas is highly instructive about home. In Belize and Guatemala, The Rapid Traveler saw a flood of earthy looking shoes attached to (mostly wealthy) American women. It was like the new Uggs, so demanded an investigation. A colleague of The Rapid Traveler with experience among NGOs in Africa knew them immediately: TOMS Shoes (not affiliated with the personal care products manufacturer Tom’s of Main, though the Venn diagram of their customers probably looks like one circle). Their website states:

With every pair purchased, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.

And thanks to our amazing customers, as of September 2010, TOMS has given over one million pairs of new shoes to children in need around the world.

This is a laudable mission. Shoes may be the new ribbons/wrist bands. But as the colleague joked, “It seems a good idea when you are the only one coming from Wisconsin with them – until you show up in Uganda and everyone is wearing them.” And the Belize version, at least, seems to mandate pairing with a Louis Vuitton duffel.

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