About Gut Feelings, Trust and the Outcome
Our youngest son is exactly 18 months today. He did not really start walking until about a month ago. Whether that is late or not on average is not important to me. He was prematurely born, as was my first one, and I have learnt that they usually do things differently and later, but all in all they do it when they are ready.
I feel very strongly about the importance of good footwear for growing kids. Feet that are developing need a good shoe for stability. It sets them for life.
For Oli, our 4.5 year old, we have been going to this fantastic little shoe shop called Little Feet of Kelso since I discovered it about 2.5 years ago. The lady that runs it is very passionate and has this fabulous collection of children’s shoes. After a proper measurement there are always multiple styles to choose from. I always feel she has the best interest of the customer at heart. When I go in to get Oli measured, sometimes she will tell me to wait a few weeks to come back as he is just about to go into a grow spurt and that saves me buying a new pair of shoes too quickly again. She is not one for the quick buck, but is definitely looking for a long-term customer relationship, which is something I value a lot and feel very strongly about myself within our profession.
Just before the schools started again we went in and got Oli his black school pair. I asked her then if she felt Alexander was ready for shoes yet. As he was not really that confident, her advice was to wait a little longer. So I did.
Three weeks later we had a day out with the boys to Jurassic Kingdom to spot the dinosaurs. It was a fantastic outing for the boys, however my shoes did not survive the mud trail that surrounded these animals from another era. I decided to quickly nip into the shoe shop nearby and get myself a new pair before getting back in the car. I found something to my liking and then spotted the kids department. Alexander was walking about now and I thought; ‘you know what, I am here now anyway, why not buy his first pair here instead of trying to find time to go to Kelso’, when I knew I would not get a chance to do that for the coming two weeks. So, I got a ticket to wait for him to be measured as it was very busy. An utterly non-interested girl appeared when it was our turn. She quickly measured his feet and got some shoes out. I picked a nice pair and when she tried to put them on his feet she literally could not do it. He kept arching his foot (which is something he does all the time). After about five minutes of pushing and pulling she managed to get one shoe on and red hot said that the other could not go on, but it was definitely the right size and I should not worry about it as she had measured so he had space to grow. I did feel a bit uncomfortable about the situation and my gut feeling said ‘NO’, but hey she worked there, the place had a reasonable name, so why be difficult? You can already feel where this is going to, right? So, I bought the shoes.
The coming weeks we did manage to get the shoes on, however he was not happy with them. He kept trying to put Oli’s shoes on and anybody else’s except his own. I did feel he stood very different on his shoes than without shoes, but he did manage to walk in them and everything takes time to get used to, right…. Then I found some wellies which he absolutely loved. He did not want his shoes on, but only his wellies.
Yesterday Oli decided: Mum, Oli needs new shoes. He never said that before, so I thought he was likely to be right. Off we went to our favourite Little Feet of Kelso. Oli was surprisingly right and was very happy with his new blue pair with green lizards on the sole.
I asked to check Alexander’s measurements to put my mind at ease. With her calm and professionalism, she measured his little feet. And guess what? He was not a size 4.5 but a size 6. I could cry. In 4 weeks’ time, there was a 1.5 size difference, which is very unlikely.
I found out that one difference in shoe size, also known as one barleycorn, measures 8.46 mm and corresponds to one-third of an inch (which is 2.54 cm) and so a half-size has a 4.23 mm difference between each consecutive half-size.
This means that there was a 12.69 mm difference in 4 weeks. Some online research quickly told me that between the ages of 1 and 3, feet can be expected to grow as much as 1.5 mm in length each month (about 18mm or 3/4 inch per year).
According to our shoe lady he was incorrectly measured, probably without relaxing his feet. I think the job was too quick, the girl probably not experienced enough or not enough knowledge or skill.
Brings us back to dentistry. On occasion, we have found that a patient leaves us as a cheaper solution seems more convenient at the time. Often, we see these patients coming back, disillusioned about that what was on offer elsewhere was actually not the same….experience, expertise, passion, skill, compassion, knowledge, time, but most definitely outcome.
The lessons learnt…. Your gut feeling is probably right. If it does not feel right, walk away. And also … stick to who and what you trust and know is right, even if it is not the most quick, easy or affordable solution at the time. Most importantly; If you realise you slipped into a wrong decision, return to the one you do trust and know. Hopefully it is not too late for damage to be done.