The Problem of Socks

(Not a sponsored post. Just a post about a product I’ve never used, but am fascinated by.)

I first discovered the Sock Slider while waiting for a prescription at my local pharmacy.

Since it was spring (and thus nowhere near Halloween), I’d already exhausted the “seasonal” aisle. Spending too much time in the “candy and chocolate” section seemed a dangerous occupation. And so I turned listlessly down “As Seen on TV,” checking the time and wondering whether my name had been lost in the intercom static minutes before.

Looking away from my phone in this most torpid of moments, my gaze fell upon a middle shelf, and my consciousness awakened forever to the pinnacle of modern technology: the Sock Slider.


Socks hanging off the back of a wooden chair. Photo by Jisu Han on Unsplash


I’ll admit it. My first thought was to wonder what use this product could possibly serve. See, I’m one of those insufferable minimalists. I stubbornly avoid new items unless I can identify a significant value the item in question will add to my life. And, though I don’t consider myself particularly flexible (I can’t touch my toes, and my downward-facing dog is an absolute joke), I’m fortunate enough at my current life stage to be able to bend my knees, ankles, hips, and back with the reliability and control required to put my socks on.

And that was my second thought: the realization that not everybody is able to bend their knees, ankles, hips, and back. This trivial plastic contraption would simplify the mornings and evenings of anyone whose body resisted contortions I take for granted. For such a person, this item would add immense value.

In all likelihood, I’ll someday be among those grateful for such an invention. My present state of affairs is ephemeral. Even if I’m spared any kind of accident, my joints won’t last forever. Some of them are already creaking and crackling. I’ve certainly had a day or two wherein socks posed a logistical puzzle requiring the application of pluck and the support of a wall. Someday, those days may become most days.

Someday, those most days might be the precious few good days.

Perhaps if I’d reached someday in a bygone era, I’d’ve kludged together a solution. Something involving dowels, perhaps, and carefully clicker-training a large, amenable cat. But thanks to the modern world—thanks, in no small part, to the way well-applied capitalism encourages ingenuity and rewards the spread of ideas—I won’t have to. Someone’s already created a solution for the problem of socks. Someone’s gone through the trouble of manufacturing such items, packaging them, marketing them, and shipping them to pharmacies and home goods stores. For me, the problem is solved before it has even become a problem. Before I ever realized such a problem existed for anyone.

How wonderful to live in a world full of solutions. Not only the sweeping inventions that guide our present towards the future—the printing press, the vaccine, the internet—but the tiny, almost inconsequential ones as well.

Netted cases to protect baseball caps in the wash. Fleece blankets with built-in sleeves. Toilet-cover night lights.

I don’t mean to encourage anyone to order everything one sees on TV. I’m still a minimalist; still committed to the notion of only taking on items poised to add value.

But how marvelous to inhabit a world prepared to solve such comparatively trifling problems. Think of it all. No more concern over wear-and-tear for baseball cap enthusiasts. No more choosing between continuing a good book and staying toasty warm on long winter nights. No more pitch-dark wee hour bathroom runs and/or no more spoiling good sleepiness with a glaringly bright light.

No more dreading the exertion of applying socks to one’s feet morning after morning. No more beginning each day frustrated by one’s physical limitations. No more starting off on a losing endeavor.

What a time to be alive!

And small solutions often feed into big ones. Problems abound in this world, many of them sprawling and daunting. But human beings are tinkerers, each of us full of ideas. Ideas ripple and evolve. Solutions form and reform as new problems emerge.

Optimism cannot help but exist in a world containing Sock Sliders.

Once again – not a sponsored post! Have you ever found a simple, ingenious contraption that solved a small but critical problem in your life? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Happy witnessing!


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