As I’ve said before, when I was in college, money was tight. I spent a great deal of my free time hustling and trying to figure out how to keep some cash in my pocket. Gas was only about $1.25-$1.50 at a time so I used to drive often to small jobs here and there. I’ll never forget this one time my cousin and I got paid $28 an hour to demolish an old museum with a couple of sledgehammers. We worked on tearing this place apart for 2-3 days.

Anyway, as a sneakerhead with very little disposable cash, you figure out other ways to keep fresh kicks on your feet. I used to be cool with a lot of the guys on the basketball team at UCSC, and one day this dude from the team named Grahm (who always had the freshest kicks) put me onto his little scheme…any time he wanted the latest kicks but couldn’t afford them, he’d implement his little “system”:

1. find his most worn pair or least favorite pair

2. take the insole out

3. slip a needle down into the heel area so that the air bubble would deflate

4. put the insole back in

5. call Nike to submit a ‘defective item’ (back then they’d accept shoes from ANY time period no questions asked)

6. send the sneakers back

7. get hit off with the latest pair of his choosing

Now, I wasn’t about to purposely ruin a pair of shoes so I could scheme my way into another pair, but I did have a couple of extra beat pairs with minor defects laying around my room and decided to give them a call. I don’t remember the first pair I returned, but I do remember that this is what they hit me off with (which I still own to this day):

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I did this a total of 3 times. The second pair I returned was a pair of Nike Air Max Plus’ that had a legitimately popped bubble, and they sent me some Nike Air Max Tailwinds. And the third pair I sent back was some Obsidian XII’s with a cracked sole and they sent me some Taxi XII’s. Not long after, Nike changed their policy to accept shoes 5 years old or younger. And they they changed it again to 2 years. And then again to returning directly to a retailer.