While in college I went to the closest mall and got the first job I could find, because as you may have read in a past post, I was taught to get a job right away and take the first one that calls.
As my “luck” would go, rather than a trendy clothing store I found myself working at Thom McAn Shoes. If you are not familiar with this name, it was a shoe store that specialized in Men’s Dress shoes. (Try climbing a ladder in a skirt in the back room reaching for size 14’s on the very top shelf. Not only is the men's dress shoe box unwieldy, it weighs at least 5lbs.) They also sold Keds in every color and pattern, women’s high heels that could be dyed any color you desired for weddings and proms and little kid shoes. Needless to say, we saw all walks of life and feet and I spent the majority of my time on my knees.
While working there I learned how to lace shoes,(not a fun time for a lefty – if you are not left handed you will never understand- makes NO sense but it’s true) and measure all types of feet, (we were required to measure every single person’s foot before they tried on their shoes – YOU try telling a women she measures a size 10 who insists she wears an 8.)
I learned how to convince people their boats looked amazing, that the color puce was no problem to match, and learned patience – which meant bringing out every size 12 in a certain style on the shelf and jamming a size 13 into it, until it fit.
Thom McAn was not high-end. It wasn’t glamorous working there, my managers were not college students, but it was a job, and I liked it, up until the day I walked out and swore I would never sell another pair of shoes as long as I lived.
One thing I do not remember ever really stressing about was commissions. I did earn commission, but I don’t remember competing with the other sales people. We all got along well and had fun with it. However, this was a long time ago, times weren’t as tough, and I didn’t have to feed anyone but myself.
So on Friday night I found myself at a department store shoe section, intent on buying my sister in law some fabulous shoes for her birthday present. As soon as I picked up the first pair of shoes a sales woman approached and asked if she could help me. I told her that I was waiting for my husband before I chose, so I was OK for the moment. She gave me the look that meant – “Don’t try to blow me off girl, I’m selling you some shoes tonight.”
I really WAS waiting for the hubby. Believe it or not, he has amazing taste in shoes. All of my best shoes are ones he picked out without me present.
When he finally arrived, he of course said the pair I selected were ugly and steered me in another direction. The same sales lady approached and we were still semi-arguing, so I told her to try back in a bit. She then turned around and told every single other person looking at shoes that she would be back in a minute to help them, then continued to bring boxes of shoes out to the people she was already helping.
Once we had made our minds up, we politely waited for our sales lady. And waited. And waited.
Another very nice sales lady approached and this is when my old shoes sales memory kicked in. I asked if they worked on commission, and she then knew what the deal was. I told her I was so sorry but we were being helped by the lady over there, who was now lassoing several more shoppers in her growing circle. This nicer sales lady stepped back and said she understood but gave a glare to the customer hog and slowly backed away.
Of course the hubby caught on fast and started to joke with her about losing her commission to the sales lady who circled customers like a shark and made them afraid to say no. This nice sales lady told us she was sick of customer hog lady and she had just gotten done telling her so in the back room.
“Why make people wait, when other sales people are available,” she said with passion. Both the hubby and I were on the same page, and said we didn’t mind, and could wait a bit. (I mean we had the kids with us and weren’t really into introducing them to them true meaning of cat fights just yet)
You see customer hog, sales lady looked like she could beat all three of us up and sell 10 pairs of shoes while doing so.
We waited. We argued about me wanting to buy two pairs of shoes and he thinking that one pair was plenty. Finally we were able to toss the size and color out to customer hog sales lady while she passed with a mountain of boxes.
Nice sales lady came back and said a few more words about customer hog and we knew a storm was brewing.
Now hubby gets the brilliant idea that why not get two pairs of shoes. I mean yes, let’s please create more drama (But I’m not arguing = yeah for birthday girl!) We would buy one from customer hog and one from nice sales lady.
Sure enough customer hog came out with every pair of shoes in the size we needed, leaving nice sales lady in the back room searching.
I slowly backed away from the approaching storm. Grabbed my girls by the hands and intently looked at perfume across the aisle, while hubby was wrangled into buying two pairs of shoes from customer hog before nice sales lady even made it out of the back room.
As we left the department with our bag of shoes, nice sales lady approached. “See how she done me?” “See what I’m talking about?” We sympathized, and felt ashamed. She said, “Now I would have shown you those shoes over there, which are cheaper. Instead you have two pairs of the same shoes in different colors.”
We followed her to the shoes she mentioned and discovered that they were shoes right up my birthday girl’s alley. So we made a secret transaction all the way in the far corner cash register. Returned one pair of shoes and bought another pair from nice sales lady.
I don’t think I am going to buy shoes in a department store for a very long time.
I used my little girls like bullet proof vests and slunk out of there as fast as my shoes could carry me.
But the good news is that the birthday girl got two pairs of shoes. Both sales “ladies” will make some money.
The bad news – we somehow ended up with the wrong size of one pair and poor Birthday girl is on her own to return them. Whoops!