Yesterday I took a bit of a tumble on my way to work. We had gotten about four inches of snow right at rush hour, the Columbus snow plow crews hadn’t gotten the streets cleared, and as I was crossing an unplowed side street my foot skidded. Fortunately, I caught myself on one hand and one knee, so I didn’t go completely horizontal. It’s the first slip and fall I’ve experienced in years of walking to work during the winter.
I flatter myself that this good fortune is attributed to careful walking techniques, like using the small-step penguin mode on especially icy days and looking ahead for the best place to plant your foot as you stride, and having finely honed, catlike reflexes that react immediately to any sign of a skid. But in reality, it’s probably because I’m gifted with unusually large, almost perfectly flat feet. Shoe size typically correlates with height, and the average shoe size for a six-foot male in America is reported to be 10.5. I typically have to buy size 12 or 12.5, depending on the make of the shoe, and my feet have no discernible arch.
Being at the upper range of shoe sizes can make finding shoes difficult — at a recent visit to one of those huge shoe emporiums, I had a tough time finding footwear my size and saw lots of 8s, 9s, and 10s, and not many 12s — but it’s useful during the winter months. The larger feet have a lot more surface contact with the snowy ground than the average foot and act like quasi-snowshoes, so I might experience a small skid but can catch myself before it turns into a full-blown slip and fall.
When you think about it, the advantages of large foot size in snowy conditions should be obvious. There’s a reason the elusive Yeti has evolved to haunt snow-covered climes and is reportedly seen from time in time in the Himalaya or the mountains of the American West. It’s why, in America, we call him Bigfoot.