Scientists haven’t yet isolated the thrift gene so pervasive among certain people. If they ever decide to isolate it, I think I’m as good a candidate for study as they are ever going to find.
Often, my efforts to save money end up costing me more money, usually because cheaper versions of products fail so much more quickly. Better .22 ammo, windshield wipers, and beer are, on the whole, worth it. Not that I’d attempt to make any of these myself, but you get the idea. But the feeling of validation when a cheap fix works—using an extension cord and a window fan to accelerate the charcoal in a barbecue rather than buying lighter fluid comes to mind—gives me such a buzz that it keeps me trying all manner of unlikely schemes. Besides, it’s kind of fun.
My most recent success involved a pair of practically new Crocs I picked up at Goodwill—the poor man’s Brooks Brothers—for $7. They are Bistro Shoes that list for $45 and have nonslip soles and a closed toe. Okay, the closed toe. Is that to protect bistro chefs from getting béarnaise sauce in their shoes or to spare customers the bistro waiter’s potentially lethal foot odor? The answer is, I have no idea.
I do know that my feet sweat like draft horses in them and that, now that summer is nearly over, I decided to fix this. While they don’t have vent holes, they do have indentations where the holes go on other Crocs. Opening these—in a very discreet way, naturally—would give me the desired ventilation. I figured an X-Acto knife would do the trick. I had X-Acto blades but, naturally, had lost the handle into which they fit. I improvised, using fishing forceps. Thus armed, I set about opening three holes on either side of both shoes. Twelve holes in all.
It took a while. Crocs are made of a closed-cell foam resin called Croslite, which is surprisingly tough. But the foam resin that can withstand a motivated cheapskate with a makeshift X-Acto knife has yet to be invented.
Anyway, below is the result. I invite you to admire my ingenuity—I have enough people telling me I’m a moron without you guys piling on, thanks very much—and to share examples of your own, successful or not.
I briefly considered conserving the plugs I’d created so I could glue them back in for cold-weather use. Then I realized that would look terrible. Even by my standards. Which just goes to show that even people you think have no standards whatsoever actually do have standards.