I consider 4 compliments a good amount, definitely more than average
I'm not sure I understand your surprise about this or why you are belaboring this point... Numerous other people have posted about the reaction Alden shoes (especially suede and cordovan) can receive from strangers... Remember NAMOR's wonderful Starbucks story from a few weeks back. People constantly remark about Alden shoes being "turning heads." Alden shoes are impressive (as this long, successful thread can attest to) and deserve all the attention they get. When I dress, I not only simply want to look sharp for personal gratification's sake but also want to attract some positive attention. If people say otherwise, they are probably not telling you the absolute truth.
Best Alden compliment I got was on my Alden Cigar captoes, which a girl on the Subway said were "absolutely beautiful." It's nice to get those every now and then, puts a spring in your step.
It's not surprising at all if it revolves around known friends, co-workers, or sales associates (remember, they're paid to make small talk and giving you a compliment builds rapport in their book). What is surprising is random people in a city like NY stopping to give a compliment on shoes. I just don't see that as something common at all, regardless of the shoe in question. Getting a look is one thing, but someone actually going out of their way to say something is another.
But like I said, with the context you later added, it's not in the realm of unbelievable. One is an elevator where you're constrained with the person there, and anything can pop up as friendly chit chat, and the other a restaurant, where, okay that's still a bit odd to me but I can see it happening I guess.
edit: fixed spelling as per horse dude's request
When are you going to figure out why LS doesn't like selling you shoes or people don't compliment you on anything. You're just mean.