In the crime/drama movie Drugstore Cowboy, after returning to his hometown, Bob talks to a drug counselor lady:

Lady: Have you ever considered becoming a counselor and helping other addicts with their problems?

Bob: No.

Lady: Why not?

Bob: Well, to begin with, nobody and I mean nobody can talk a junkie out of using. You can talk to them for years, but sooner or later they'll get a hold of something. Maybe it's not dope. Maybe it's booze. Maybe it's glue. Maybe it's gasoline. Maybe it's a gunshot in the head. But something. Something to relieve the pressures of their everyday life, like... having to tie their shoes.

  • Tying your shoes means tightening the laces and tying knots in them shoelaces so the shoes don't fall off your feet. It's given as an instance of the pressures of everyday life. Aug 16, 2017 at 13:06
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    Like tying your shoes or comparison with tying your shoes is often something like an idiom to mean a trivial activity that any normal person can do.
    – LawrenceC
    Aug 16, 2017 at 18:05

1 Answer 1


Here, "tie their shoes" means exactly what it says. You tie your shoes -- which is to say, you pull the laces tight and knot them -- to keep your shoes from falling off.

This is called "tongue-in-cheek" humor. The statement does not literally mean that a junkie will find it difficult to tie their shoes. Rather it mentions a completely ordinary activity to reinforce the earlier comment that a junkie will inevitably start using drugs again -- that they will use any excuse, no matter how trivial, to justify their habit.

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