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What to do when you have no socks

23 November 2012, 09:30

Life is full of enormous problems. Relationships, career choices, pursuit of personal goals and a thousand other important aspects of human life take up most of your attention every day. But it is the seemingly small problems that can leave you stumped. I am here to help with one such problem.

The morning routine of a twenty-something year old man in a corporate job is quite straightforward. Wake up, shower, get dressed, have breakfast, brush teeth, take appropriate public transport to work. It typically takes about half an hour to fourty-five minutes to get from waking up to leaving the house. Millions of young men around the world will identify with this routine. But what happens when it goes wrong? In particular, what happens when you have no clean socks?

The absence of clean socks cannot be ignored. It is like a big slap in the face right in the middle of what is meant to be a series of automatic and smooth steps between bed and office. If the day is to proceed at all, the problem must be solved somehow. Calling in sick is not an option. Remember, you're better than that.

If you face this problem, as I have, there are three possible solutions: You can wear dirty socks; you can wear white socks with your normal dark trousers and shoes; or you can go sockless.

Dirty socks feel awful. Even if you wore them only for one work day in an air-conditioned office, it is impossible to feel comfortable putting on dirty socks. Dirty socks always feel horribly sweaty and smell terrible. But it is comforting to remember that your socks are unlikely to come close enough to anyone else for them to notice the smell. It is a small comfort, however. You be distracted by the nastiness of your dirty socks until you finally get home and rip them off.

The combination of white socks, dark trousers and dark shoes constitutes fashion suicide. You can do it, but you dare not be seen. Your feet will feel marvellous, wrapped up in clean socks, but you will spend your whole day hiding your feet. It's easy to hide white socks from colleagues – just keep your feet safely under your desk. But hiding those bright white signs of skipping laundry day is not so easy during the daily commute - as soon as you sit down, your trouser legs lift to reveal your socks. That means that you are compelled to stand on the train or bus, even if there are plenty of seats available.

To the uninitiated, going sockless may sound appealing. Forget it. Socks exist for a reason. Sweaty feet in closed shoes with no protective sock barrier is a recipe for self-loathing. Don't do it. It's not worth the trauma.

All of the available options seem thoroughly unappealing. No-one wants to feel dirty, spend the day hiding, or endure the psychological torture of sockless shoe-wearing. What is to be done?

Thankfully, there exist a number of retail outlets that sell socks at affordable prices. R10 per pair is a reasonable price, and it is easy to get away with changing your socks under your desk or in the bathroom. So the real issue concerns the choice of foot-attire for the trip from home to the shop.

Having faced this problem before, I can offer sound advice: Choose the white socks. You can stand on the train - you probably will anyway during the morning rush. Once you buy your brand new socks, at a minimal cost, you will feel much better. Once the new socks are on your grateful feet, you will forget all about your morning stress and can get on with the business of looking productive.

Of course, it would be best to wash your socks timeously. But we can hardly expect that of young men all the time, can we?

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