Last night we were finally able to get my son new shoes and a pair of boots.
He's needed new shoes for a while, and winter in the North East requires appropriate foot gear, so we've known that new boots would be an inevitable purchase too.
Until last night, things never really worked out for us to go shopping.
Either we had the time but not the money or the money but not the time.
At the end of September my son sprained his foot and it's ill advised to shop for new shoes when you've got a swollen foot. Our car was dying and we needed to get a newer one. Our daughter's birthday was in October so most of our extra cash went to buy gifts for her. Last month my son had strep so some potential shopping days were nixed due to illness, and there was Thanksgiving which also sort of got in the way of shoe shopping, too for a multitude of reasons. Also my mom was ill, and there was work and just everything.
Meanwhile we made do with what we had and my son appropriated my winter boots after the first snow fall. My feet got wet and cold walking home from work but this is the first time I've articulated that reality and I'm not complaining. I'm just stating the fact that the kids do come first around here.
Last night after dinner we finally had money, time, and good health concurrently so we were off to Super Shoes to buy some shoes. Super! I've bought shoes and boots from cheaper places but I've found after 15 years of parenthood, in the long run it's less expensive and easier to buy one good pair of boots and one good pair of shoes. Otherwise it's January and the Wal-Mart boots which were never very warm anyway, have completely ripped apart and there isn't a pair of boots to be had because all the stores are selling sandals and flip flops, even though we're going to have another 3 months of snowy weather.
We thought we'd make it a fun family outing. We're simple folk. Yay! Shoe shopping fun times!
We started our fun shoe shopping adventure with the obligatory measuring of the boys' feet with the Brannock Device.
His right foot measured a 6, a kid size.
His left foot measured a size 7 which is a grown-up man size, which means my son has one kid foot and one man foot.
What to do?
We wandered around. I noted the lack of any size 7 shoes. I thought, hey! I'll go ask a person who works here! Maybe there is a cool solution to this problem. Shoe inserts perhaps? Or something?
I approached a young woman wearing a name tag. I assumed she was an employee of the store and would know things like where shoes were and the basics of human communication. I explained our funny situation one size 6 boy foot and one size 7 man foot, and also noted that there weren't any size 7's around and asked her what she might recommend.
She looked at me and said, "Uh....I...."
She averted her eyes and said, "Don't know."
"Oh-kay then." I said.
And then this dude walked over. He was a tall kid mid 20's with a goatee and a condescending manner.
He exuded arrogant gamer boy pheromones.
I nicely explained my predicament, boy with mismatched feet, asked for any insider advice goateed gamer shoe salesman might offer. I was sincerely polite.
Sales dude then said something that went like this: "This happens every year. Parents somehow forget that it's winter in Maine. Right after the first snow storm everyone comes in here looking for winter boots. If we have anything left in a size 7 it would be (muffle muffle) brand or (unintelligible to the listener) brand."
"OH. Really? Huh. Is that what happens? HUM. Okay. So, where might the seasonally shortsighted parents like myself find these boots? Because really, despite my obvious shortcomings, my son still needs boots."
Condescending shoe dude motioned vaguely with a wave of his hand toward the back of the store.
I'm a nice lady. I am the nice customer. I worked in retail, my mom worked in retail, I know that customers are sometimes assholes. I am not that customer. Having worked in retail, I know that part of the job involves helping all the customers, the nice ones, the stupid ones, and the assholes, find the shit they want to buy.
Shopping is stressful for my son. Huffing out of the store with my family in tow and driving to another shoe store would only increase my son's anxiety, so I gritted my teeth and tried to find something that would fit the boy.
He picked up on my changed mood right away so I had to tell him truthfully that the clerk was a bit rude to me and it made me mad but that was okay, I was going to work through my anger, my son hadn't done anything wrong, and in the grand scheme, it really didn't matter what the sales clerk said to me, it was up to me to be a grown up.
The boy found a pair of boots he loved in a size 8. He tried them on and they fit his bigger foot just fine. We found a pair of sneakers in a size 8 and they were okay, too.
I wondered if, not being foot measuring professionals, we measured his feet wrong. I wondered had a nice sales clerk type person helped us we might have discovered our error, gotten an accurate measurement and picked the right shoes without worry. Or maybe we were just lucky and found the brand of shoes that runs a bit small and though our measurement was accurate the Kamik boots run small, so a Kamik size 8 fits like a 7....anyway, had we been helped in a meaningful way, we'd be laughing happy customers who felt good about buying shoes.
We could have dropped a shit load of money on new foot wear for a kid right before Christmas, knowing that our Christmas budget would be significantly reduced, and not felt quite so sick about it.
Had shoe store dude helped us, we would be happy to shop there again, because, let's face it, I have a growing boy with weird and giant feet. We're going to be buying shoes every 6 months for him until he's 18, 6' 10", with one size 15 foot and one size 16 foot.
If people continue to buy stuff from their store, they get to have a place to work. Being helpful is job insurance.
I know shoe store guy makes shit money. I know he does. I know deer in the headlights clerk gal makes shit money too.
My college graduated, state university employee, library supervisor husband probably doesn't make much more than these guys do. I can actually guarantee that fact.
I clean dirty toilets for a living. I'm not bringing in the big bucks either, and my job isn't even as glamorous as working at Super Shoes. Clerks and us, we're on the same side.
The reasons we didn't buy the kid winter boots earlier have nothing to do with being negligent, stupid, or lazy.
Anyhow, as we were paying for the shoes, I fought the urge to give the Super Shoes employees a lecture. My husband suggested very gently that I take my fuming self to the car to cool down a bit, because he knows me well and knows sometimes I get very very mad and say things that children don't need to hear, especially children who need expensive things right before Christmas.
And since I'm still trying to stay on track with the blog everyday and it is now nearly tomorrow, I will bid you all a goodnight.