The Meaning Behind Shoes Strung Up On A Power Line
Although I don’t think the phenomenon is quite as common now as it was when I was a kid, you’ve likely been walking or driving through a neighborhood only to see a pair of sneakers tied together by the shoelaces and tossed up on to a power line. I always assumed this was just something neighborhood kids did from time to time, but had no idea that there were so many theories about the meaning behind this behavior.
The first theory takes us all the way back to wartime days when soldiers would apparently toss their boots when they had completed their training or completed their post. Maybe this symbolism is where all other theories originated from? Who knows. There’s also a common belief that tossing shoes up on a power line is a way for gangs to mark their territory and warn others gangs to stay away. However, this theory has never exactly been proven.
Many people believe that seeing shoes up on a power line is the result of kids bullying one another. I can think of at least two movies where neighborhood bullies have taken a kid’s sneakers and thrown them up on a power line, leaving them shoeless. I’d like to think this theory doesn’t hold much weight, but I’m sure there have been a few circumstances over the years where this has unfortunately been the case.
Perhaps the most common theory out there (and the one that I personally believe in the most) is that people toss their sneakers up on to power lines “just because.” Maybe it seems like a fun thing to do with a pair of old sneakers. And like so many other behaviors, people see the first pair flung up there and decide to follow suit. To me, this is a prime of example of just kids being kids.
That being said, you really shouldn’t be throwing sneakers (or anything, for that matter) up on to a power line. Interfering with a power line in any way is extremely dangerous, and it also creates unsafe work for the power line companies whose employees will at some point be responsible for removing the sneakers. If you have a pair of old sneakers, donate them! And if they’re not in good enough shape to donate, simply chuck them in the trash.