Shopping for shoes. When did it get so complicated?

Guy at the store asked me about my preferences.

“Are you thinking Phantom, React or an Apex?”

Huh? Uhhh ... gray. Matches my hair.

“Do you have a brand preference?”

Yup. Whoever sells the gray ones.

The tour lasted far longer than it should have. I just wanted a pair of sneakers for everyday use. Something comfortable. Something basic. Something to make my big feet happy.

Shoes don’t do basic any more. They’ve got names now.

It’s confusing for an old dude. Not once in my life have I ever arisen from my bed and wondered, “Am I feeling Downshifter or Pursuit today?”

Bless his heart, the guy even tried to match shoe logos with the shirt I happened to be wearing at the time. He steered me toward shoes with swooshes just because I was wearing a shirt with one.

I have a hard enough time matching colors. Ask my wife. If she’s not around to dress me, there’s no telling what sort of combination I’ll invent.

Now I gotta worry about shoe logos matching my shirt logos?

React. Phantom React. Downshifters. Joyride. Zoom Freak. Daybreak. Pegasus. Soldier.

Apex. Rise. Bandit. Assert. Ignite. Pursuit.

Those are all shoe names.

Weird, huh? Know what else is weird?

Someone got paid to come up with those names. He or she looked at a style and struggled to decide whether it was Reacting or Asserting.

Somebody got paid to name shoes. I can’t even process that.

The fancier the name, the more money they’re likely to cost. I’m dating myself, but I still remember when the only shoe name I knew was Chuck Taylor. You know, those old, cheap canvas basketball shoes we wore when we were kids.

I remember saving my money so I could buy a new $2 pair of Chucks. They didn’t last long with my lifestyle. The insoles always ripped, and we used baling wire to hold them together so we could still wear them to school.

Nowadays, a pair of Chucks runs somewhere in the $50 range. My old shoes gained value over the years. Wish I could say the same about me.

Wearing my newest gray shoes (I think I was React-in’ at that moment), I’m reading my news feed when I see something about an “influencer.”

Influencer? Gotta be a story about a teacher or coach, right?

Oh, no. Here in our ever-growing social media world, there exist people called “influencers.” I had to dig into this to see exactly what they do. Surely, they are remarkable humans to wield so much influence over the rest of us. I work with and for real influencers. They inspire others to better themselves in some important way.

This current group of “influencers?”

Well ... not exactly.

An influencer can be someone with specific expertise in a certain area, such as video gaming. He or she uses social media like YouTube or other forms to reach out to a larger audience.

An established influencer can earn some pretty sweet cash from his or her presence. They post a couple of announcements or videos, and the more clicks they generate, the more money they make.

I can deal with that.

What I can’t even handle are the other people flooding the “influencer” market. Get this: There are folks who show up at major events — even disasters — to have their photos taken just so they can post them on Snapgram, Instaface or whatever. They don’t do anything but pose for a pic and post it, sometimes while holding a product they’re trying to promote. Show up. Stand still for a pic (or sit on a beach with head thrown back in a pensive pose).

Then they get paid. Money for nothing and the clicks for free, with apologies to Dire Straits.

I realize I sound like your typical old fart on a rant against the younger generations. Pardon us working folk if we just shake our heads. We don’t get it.

Probably never will.

We who trace our first paydays back to mowing yards, baling hay or hanging tobacco can’t quite grasp we could have made more money standing around getting our pics made. I’m all for free enterprise. I’m all about making that paper however one can make it, as long as it’s legal.

But having a paying job naming shoes or having my pic made just standing around is way over my head. Sounds like pretty easy work. Actually, it doesn’t sound anything like real work. Let me name some shoes. There goes Bubba, Bubbajean and Bubba Joe. That ain’t a swoosh. It’s a grease stain. Hurry and send me my paycheck.

Need the rest of us to influence some folks?

Take a pic of us heading to work, where we do stuff other than naming our shoes.

Gary Stallard is a regular contributor to the Opinion page of The Lufkin Daily News. His email address is