Abandoned at the side of the road

I’m in Toronto for a few weeks and thought I wouldn’t be seeing any abandoned shoes here but it is a veritable minefield, a cornucopia, a smorgasbord. Plenty, in other words!

Here’s what I found within this past 10 days:

The first one was this bag / box arrangement near a bus stop: As I neared the corner, I saw it coming and it was great to find a handy bag next to it as well.

A shoebox, some shoes, a bag and a lid beside it.

They even took the lovely lid off, to help you consider the contents. I was tempted to look inside the Sears bag but decided against. It felt wrong. Something about the lid says Europe, don’t you think?

A closer view of a Sears bag, some shoes, and the box lid beside it.

At the park near my folks, out in the west of the city, there’s a cute little playground. Near it is a bench and some bins, for local residents to picnic, and a nearby recycle bin. This pair were sitting here for days, and are still there a week later, as if no-one dare claim them, although they have been shifting round a bit, so I recon people have been trying them on. Not good enough for anyone to take home though. Used shoes are so personal, so intimate! I now understand better why some cultures consider the importance and significance of  feet and shoes so much.

A pair of brown sandals on the grass near a recycle bin at the park.

Now for some adventure!

While here in Toronto, I’m staying in this B&B, (Hi Lyndsey!) near Dufferin & Davenport, quite a nice European immigrant neighbourhood, mostly Italian and Portugese. It’s a look I know well and defines this part of the city, in particular on their compact front lawns.  I extensively photographed it back in the 80’s when I was a student of photography here and am open (on request) to bore you with some scans from those days.

These flippers were found out on the corner, on the edge of someone’s front lawn, hopefully so someone could take them on their summer holiday. In good nick, if you’re interested. I already have a pair though, so they’re all yours.

A pair of diving flippers, by the side of the pavement

And finally, another pair, right by the door to the Dufferin (and Bloor) subway station. It was a crowded, intensely sunny morning, so I didn’t notice them in the shadows for a moment, then pleasantly surprised. Not my thing, but perfectly OK, which is why someone left them out for interested parties, I assume.

shoes near the door of the entrance to a busy Toronto subway station

Here’s another pic, closer, in case you’re interested. A bit of heel, for those who seek it.

A pair of shoes in the shadows next to the entrance of a subway station

Four  pairs in just over a week.

Eyes peeled for more on my ride out along the ravine this afternoon.

Toronto Shoes

My first guest donation to the Abandoned Shoes Project © from someone other than me.
Thanks to Stephanie from Pistachio for her donation of this snazzy pair of trainers from near her home in Dovercourt/Bloor area of Toronto.

Looks like the Tin Man or some robot exploded nearby with those bars and springs…

Anyone else noticing perfectly usable discarded footwear near them?


Another pair, found a week later, on Dewson Street. I guess with summer coming they don’t need their boots?

a pair of boots in Dewson Street


A winter house-cleaning

It looks like people are clearing their wardrobes this week as I found two pairs of abandoned shoes this week. Both in my street and both, I suspect, my neighbours sharing footwear, although I recon the crocs came from a late Friday session at the Courty!

These showed up on Sunday and I think they couldn’t face wearing them for another summer so abandoned them now while they had the chance.

BTW, in case anyone at all is reading this, I’m open you any of YOUR pics of abandoned shoes…

A pair of pairs

Bonus time again in the abandoned shoes found in the street department.
Yesterday I found a pair of these mock crocs out in front of the Newtown Community Centre. For some reason, left atop a bin, near the market area. They looked in great shape, even if they’re crap shoes.

But much stranger were this other pair, left right outside my door. Not only am I noticing these shoe-leave-behinds, but I think they’re following me.

There they were, right at my front door, waiting for me. Sadly, not my size. Funky orange striping though, bet they’d make good cycling shoes.

Beautiful simple solutions

I was getting frustrated, as were others, about the Mac OSX default column width in column view.

Yes, you could handily double-click the column handle and it would expand that column to the width of the longest file name (you knew that one right?), but I often have to use long filenames.

So I recently decided to change the default column width, opened Terminal and steeled myself to having to hack some core setting with some command-line arcane incantations. After a search of a few seconds I came across this video from Jason Glaspey

Change default column widths in Finder (Mac OSX) from Jason Glaspey on Vimeo.

What I love about this control of the interface is that I could have discovered it by accident but it was also put there on purpose, by an interface designer who thought about (or paid attention to user testing about) the sorts of thing a user might want to modify globally. In addition, the change is shown in real time, across all windows, communicating very simply and elegantly, the results of the change to the user, immediately, without text or technical explanations.

That is what good design, and good user experience is about.