Stuff breaks. Stuff gets worn out and falls apart. Usually, I get annoyed, but in the case of my trusty white sneakers, I can only applaud.

They’re actually gray now; they haven’t been truly white for a long time. I bought them many years ago to serve as running shoes (whenever I worked up the determination to actually go for a run) and hanging around shoes (which took place much more often than the running). They were comfortable and never let me down. Whether I was strolling into the grocery store or walking a few blocks to a coffee shop or thinking about going for a run while settling into the couch and watching an entire afternoon of football, those sneakers were always the right footwear for the occasion.

Back when I was fun enough to be in an adult kickball league, my white sneakers helped me smack the ball into the outfield and run like wild toward first and then brace my feet as I bent over to catch my breath following those few seconds of exertion. They also helped cushion my footsteps as I accompanied my team to the bar for post-game drinks.

Over the years, those footsteps and those kicks and dashes through the infield, all took their toll. The white color faded. The seams showed their age, and the interior cushioning began to give way. I bought a pair of blue sneakers to take their place.

But my trusty old faux-white sneakers weren’t through yet. They had plenty of mileage to go. While I started wearing my new blue sneakers for running and hanging out and going to the post office or attending a backyard cookout, I kept my old white shoes for the dirty jobs.

When it was time to mow the lawn, the old sneakers got the call. Once merely gray, they began to take on a bright green grass-stained hue. Lawn mowing duty surely wasn’t as exciting for my trusty old shoes as going for a run or playing kickball or navigating the produce aisles, but somebody had to do it.

Yard work turned out to be tough for my sneakers. Month by month, the weakened seams began to give way, leaving small openings here and there where no openings should have been. The soles detached and flopped around in a manner both potentially comical and hazardous. The shoelaces broke, the holes worsened and the tongues stuck out.

To add insult to injury, they were also my picking-up-after-the-dog sneakers, so they experienced more than their fair share of accidental messes. Nevertheless, they kept heeding the call, always willing to do their imperfect best to protect and comfort my feet during yard work from frosty April mornings to baking hot August afternoons.

I did, however, recently acquire new sneakers. As with previous footwear, they will be more for running errands and less for running, and I’m sure they will serve their purpose well. My blue sneakers — now getting old themselves — will be on lawn duty. After years of unflagging service, I will be putting those versatile white sneakers to rest. They might literally be falling apart at the seams, but I have nothing but appreciation for all they’ve done for me over the years.

BILL ZUCK is trying to keep his blue sneakers free of dog poop. You can reach him at

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