Aristocracy Vs. Cake

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just another day...

Submitted: May 14, 2008

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Submitted: May 14, 2008

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The lines and words swirled together on the white paper to form blobs in front of my unfocused eyes. I was bored. I was standing in front of several panels of women’s shoes displayed on the footwear wall. I was supposed to be resetting them according to the black and white swirled page in my hand, but I somehow lost the drive to do it. Maybe it was the fact that I had no energy, chocolate was sounding good right about now.

Or maybe it was Monday, and the entire store had all of three customers milling around sluggishly. I was leaning towards the chocolate reason though. I could feel the distinct impression of the coins in my left pocket. If I snuck upstairs to the vending machine no one would notice, right?

I looked up and down the length of the floor and located an elderly woman meandering towards the ladies shoes. I stifled a sigh and took one last look towards the direction of the elevator. Chocolate would have to wait.

“Excuse me, could you help me for a moment?”

I turned around expecting the elderly woman to be right behind me. The truth was, she was still about fifteen feet away and calling to me, waving a newspaper clipping in her right hand. This should be quick I thought.

“Yes, ma’am, what can I do for you?” I asked, meeting her half way.

“I’m looking for these shoes here.” She said, unfolding her paper clipping and pointing to a pair of Reebok shoes.

“Yes ma’am, we have those in stock, what size do you need?” I asked.

“I’m not sure…” She said.

I watched her move to the blue padded bench and sit down. She feebly bent down and pulled off the tattered tennis shoe from her left foot. They were faded blue, and white, or what I thought could have been white. Now they were gray and dirty.

“Can you read what that says there?” She asked, handing me her old shoe with a shaky hand. I cringed internally and took it. Was that a hole in the toe of the shoe?

“Sure.” I said faking the best smile I could while peering into her stinky old shoe.

I found the sizing chart on the inside part and read size “10W” back to her. I repeated the style of shoe she wanted and the size and went to the stock room to find it. I was hoping that the elderly woman would be satisfied with the shoes and leave. I walked back out to the front where she was waiting, repeating to myself that I loved my job.

“Here you are.” I said, setting the box in her hands. She opened the box and made a sound of disgust immediately.

“I don’t like these. I didn’t think they would be that bright of a pink. I don’t like bright. The newspaper clipping made them look different, darker.” She said.

I nodded sympathetically. Great, I thought, she’s one of those customers.

“Now, do you have anything like these?” She asked, pointing to her old shoes again. “I love these shoes.” Obviously, I thought.

“What kind are they? Do you know the style?” I asked. I didn’t think she knew offhand but I thought I would try even though I was grasping at straws. I watched her lift the shoe to her face and give it a once over.

She said, “It says…structure…triax…10 or something. Does that make sense? Do you have those? I just want something comfortable, I walk downtown.”

“Yes, we have the structure triax 11s. It’s the same shoe just an updated version.”

“Can I try those in a size 10 then?” She asked.

She shoved the Reeboks back into my hands, and I walked to the stock room to retrieve her precious shoes. I was hoping against hope that these shoes would satisfy her. I found them on a shelf in the back through the stacked maze of shoes and made my way to the front again.

I dropped the shoes off with her and returned my attention to reorganizing the vast wall of shoes while she tried them on. I think I managed to move two more display shoes before she was behind me again, beckoning to me.

“Can you help me for just a minute?” She said. I didn’t miss the sharpness in the statement.

“Sure.”

“These shoes don’t seem to be long enough. They’re sort of tight. Can you check my toe length and tell me if it’s the right size?” She asked, sitting down on the bench again.

“Sure.” I said. I was a broken record of fake enthusiasm now.

I bent down to take a look at her feet in the bright shoes. I had to stifle my horror and gasp internally. The shoes were definitely too small in the width, but it looked like something was protruding outwards on the inside upper part of the shoe where her big toe would normally be. Ick! Understanding the mysteries of growing old was beyond me, but this protrusion hardly looked comfortable. It was so odd it was mesmerizing.

Already, my mind was consumed by various ideas of what had happened. I went from stepping onto a landmine, blowing it off, to something simpler like a shark taking a little nibble while floating in the ocean on a hot summer’s day. Or maybe I was just delusional due to starvation. It could merely be an irregular growth that occurred over time, but where was the imagination in that! I shivered. Whatever the case may be I stifled the urge to ask. Curiosity always got me into trouble.

I felt the end of the shoe where her toes rested. The length seemed too small as well. I looked up at her politely from where I knelt.

“The length and the width seem a bit short. Going up a size will help the length and it might help the width a little too.” I said, “We don’t carry half sizes between ten and eleven in the store, but I do have a size eleven in the back. Would you like to try that one instead?”

“I don’t care if I buy a pair of shoes or not. I think if you want me to buy a pair of shoes from you, I would convince me to try the elevens.” She said, “That’s your job isn’t it?”

My ears were burning. The condescending words that dripped from her mouth were an unwelcome occurrence, but the fact that she added a little laugh afterwards had me biting my tongue. All I could do was nod and walk to the back.

I knew where the shoes were, it didn’t take me long to find the stack set at eye level. I just stood there and stared at the boxes, unmoving. I was still stunned by her ridiculous irritation. I thought back on all my actions leading up to this point. My mannerisms were polite and hardly improper. To trigger such a sneer from someone, you obviously had to be a complete idiot. I shook my head. I reasoned that there was a lot of categories I fit into, but idiot wasn’t one of them.

I pulled the box marked eleven from the pile, and turned to walk out to the front yet again. I promised myself a prize if I made it through this insane ordeal. I was thinking a chocolate candy bar, or strawberry shortcake. Hell, I think I deserved a three-layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and whipped cream for this one.

By the time I rounded the corner I was feeling pretty good. I had brushed that little comment off my shoulder and tacked a polite smile on my face. I reached the lady and handed her the shoes. I stood a few feet away, and waited for her to put the elevens on. When she got them on, and walked a couple feet she shook her head.

“The elevens feel better in length but I think the width has to be bigger.” She said, “Do these come in wide?”

“No those particular shoes do not, but I have a couple other styles that do.” I said.

“Are they any of these other ones in this paper?” She asked, pointing to her clipping again.

“I don’t have these exact models, but I have a few comparable. I will be right back with them.”

She tried two more pairs of shoes. One of them was too white for her taste, and the other one felt funny on her feet. The only accomplishment achieved so far was confirming her need for wide widths. It was a small victory towards my little cake party. I was salivating at the idea.

“None of these will work. Is there anything else that might work that you haven’t shown me yet?” She asked.

I grabbed a pair of shoes off a stack in the front on display. They were wide with extra cushion and a size eleven. I said a prayer to any god that would listen, and handed them to the old lady.

“A last-ditch effort.” I said.

I hoped against hope that they would work or she would give up. My fake smile was starting to crack under the pressure and I had developed a small twitch behind my right eye. I watched the lady put them on and walk around. When she sat down again, she looked at the shoes.

“These feel the best out of the ones you’ve shown me.” She said, finally. Thank god!

“Is the length and width comfortable?” I asked. I wanted to be sure I covered all the bases. I refused to let her aristocratic demeanor win. I unconsciously swiped at the corner of my mouth. I was sure there was drool.

“Yes. They feel fine.” She said. She took the shoes off and placed them back in the box. She returned her original shoes to her feet and grabbed her purse.

She said, “I’m still in the market, but those are the best so far. Give me your card and write down those exact shoes I tried on. I know if I don’t have it written down, then remembering them will be impossible.”

“Sure.” I said. Whatever it took to get her out of my sight I thought! I grabbed a piece of paper from the back and wrote down all the information and my name. I considered for a split second to write down a fake name, but thought better of it. I was wearing a nametag after all, plus she could read it before she left and know I had fibbed.

I handed her the piece of paper with the information, and bid her a great afternoon. Of course she sarcastically thanked me for all my help and waddled away towards the entrance of the store.

Once she was out of sight, I breathed a sigh of relief. Victory! I looked at my watch and smiled hungrily. My shift was up, and I knew exactly how I was going to celebrate my little triumph.


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