Friday, May 29, 2009

Attention, Shoppers!

Like many (if not all) married men, I do most of my clothes shopping with my wife. If I didn't, I'd own about eighteen sets of the same style, cut and color trousers, about a dozen shirts of standard color deviation with maybe twice as many again ties to go with the shirts. I'd have two pair of black shoes, one with laces and one without, and the same for brown shoes.

Don't laugh. Look in your closet and then get back to me, Mr. Hyena. It's not just the unrelenting nature of my clothes sense-it's the utter absence of taste. When I'm putting together 'stuff to wear', I shoot the moon. The rule (kind of ) is clean things get worn together and then, by degree not-so-clean things. Don't talk to me about colors and styles that clash or complement. No one speaks fashion at this address.

Because the shoes I've been wearing are bruising my feet, especially my soles and heels (diabetics are always told to check your feet for bruises, blisters, callouses and corns), Wednesday evening I and my wife went shopping at the department store I like to go to because she likes to go to it. I have small feet (I heard the snicker, by the way) which makes shoe-shopping even more fun but as luck would have it the shoe department had a pair of grey shoes, incredibly light, in my size. Technically, it wasn't a pair; it was a shoe, actually the display shoe. There were exactly three boxes with the same style shoe, all had two shoes in each box and none of them were my size.

It had been a long day and I could actually feel the sugar low flowing through me. After a fruitless search for the other shoe, a box with my size on it or any indication that such a pair of shoes even existed, we gave in, got the 'next best thing', gave up and went home. But it bugged me, it really did.

And so yesterday, after I was finished at work I went to the store the company has in Groton and searched their shelves, reasoning what they have in Lisbon (no, that one, the one in Connecticut), they should have here. Don't tell Columbus, but he was wrong about a lot of things and I was celebrating Columbus Day yesterday. But I wasn't prepared to give up.

I drove all the way to the store in Lisbon (actually that sounds a lot harder than it is; the car did all the driving, I was inside the car. The roads are paved and there was no rain so it was pretty uneventful) walked through the store directly to the shoe department and found the half a pair of shoe(s). Plucking it from the shelf, I strode to the registers where the sales associate was puzzled anyone with two legs and two feet, would be buying one shoe. I explained to her I didn't want to buy a shoe, but rather a pair of shoes and asked her to page someone for assistance.

She thought I meant to send someone to shoes and told me to 'head on back and they'll be right there.' No, I smiled, I think not. Instead I'll stand here at your register not allowing you to process any other customers until the shoes sales person joins us here and then together, I and s/he will saunter back to her/his area of specialization. Some of us were not very popular around register two for a couple of tense minutes, let me tell you, but eventually Edgar emerged, name tag askew, practically tripping over trousers so incredibly too long, I just assumed they were actually his dad's pants.

Edgar, I think, is destined for retail superstardom, perhaps some day they'll rename the chain of stores after him. Just not today, or technically, not yesterday. I explained to Edgar ('please, call me Ed' he offered-only if you'll call me 'sir', I replied with a smile but he didn't) my inability to understand where the mate from my new favorite shoe in the whole world might be, and his eyes lit up when he saw it. Turns out he had it in the back room in 'the box' and went to fetch it.

It was only after he returned with both my shoe's mate and the box that I asked him what kind of stock system would have you separate a pair of anything, and store half of it out of sight and cognizance of a customer who might wish to buy it. He explained he was working to cut back on pilfering as I'd be surprised how many shoes 'get stolen in a month'. He didn't actually tell me the number, so I practiced my surprised look for nothing, but did ask him as I walked back to the register to pay for my purchase if he'd worked elsewhere in men's furnishings, like perhaps dress trousers or dress shirts. He wondered why I was so interested and all I could ask was if he'd ever waited on anyone named Richard Kimble. I was going to wave goodbye but forgot which arm to use.
-bill kenny

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