Oh sure, maybe you get excited but I am not especially ecstatic when I realize it’s time to shop for new work shoes. Curiously, my wife bubbles any time the possibility of shoe shopping comes up. She doesn’t seem to have any trouble buying shoes. As a matter of fact, I could say that she has trouble not buying shoes, but a prudent guy doesn’t go around saying things like that in public so I would never imply anything of the kind here.

I have an antiquated price range that I feel work shoes should cost. There are indeed shoes available in this range thanks to automation and the ability of shoe manufacturers to find labor markets where they don’t pay their workers enough to buy shoes, but this low-end footgear seems to be made of plastic, paper and Jell-O. The Jell-O is nice on the feet, of course, but I question its structural integrity.

The price of really nice work shoes has steadily climbed almost to the level of “athletic showoff shoes.” I’m sorry, I’m not spending more on a pair of work shoes than it costs to buy a nice circular saw. The saw is good for at least 10 years; the shoes, not so much.

There are two ways now to purchase shoes. You can employ the traditional approach and, still using your old shoes, hoof it over to a discount store, a mega-mart or a shoe store if you still have one in your neighborhood. Or, you can browse the web and order them online, barefoot if you like. Both methods have drawbacks. For example, brick-and-mortar shoe stores don’t have a large enough assortment, while the web has far too much variety.

I mean, you don’t walk into a shoe store, ask the clerk for men’s work shoes and have them tell you that you can choose from over five thousand styles. Then again, in a store you may have to deal with smarmy shoe sales people who are too young or too old to relate to your needs and taste — but on the web, there is no one at your beck and call, no matter how smarmy. No one on a website has ever invited me to sit down as they bring over a selection of shoes for me to check out and even try them on for size and comfort.

The internet offers so many choices that any diligent person is easily overwhelmed. By the time the online choices are narrowed down to 100 shoes and 10 vendors, you could already be walking around using your new shoes if you just up and went to a shoe store. It’s easy to lose track of what you’re doing on the internet and, before you know it, you’re watching poorly executed boat launch videos on YouTube.

Reviews are next to worthless. One person claims the shoes are the absolute best in their experience, while another mocks them for their color, fit and flammability. The best you can hope for is a number of reviews that essentially say the same thing. One review saying that the shoes were hell on his feet doesn’t mean anything. Twenty reviews saying that God spoke to them and directed them to buy this particular shoe might indicate something is up, but it’s hard to say exactly what.

After finding a likely candidate online, I look for a detailed picture of the bottom of the shoe. I have already purchased shoes that have nonslip soles and I have regretted it. Not that I want to slip and fall on a wet boulder in the woods or a slippery floor in the kitchen, but when I walk in the woods, in my driveway or on the roadside, nonslip soles tend to pick up a collection of tiny stones, debris and sometimes small dogs (or dog products) in their fine tread so that when I finally do walk in the kitchen, the danger isn’t from slipping but from the person who cleans the floors.

Am I missing other important details looking at shoes online?

I am disheartened. Perhaps if I had paid more, my current shoes wouldn’t have broken in half and leaked Jell-O all over the kitchen floor. Looks like I’ll just have to take a deep breath, combobulate myself and make a decision: online shoes, store-bought shoes … or a new circular saw? I’m thinking.