“Can I buy a story, a joke, just some words? why are you not writing?”
I laughed, and avoided the question. My friend was watching me intently. Silence fell between us. I stalled. I have a lot of stories to tell, but I spent a whole year wondering when I should tell them….now, later or never?
Should I save the stories like gold coins in my pocket, in hopes that when I finally pull them out, they have gained value? or whoever will play the main characters in my stories will simply not care anymore? I can freely tell my stories without risking anything.
“Write about anything! shoes! just write!” my friend is not known for giving up easily. She is the one who originally pushed me to start this blog. I tend to listen to her.
Shoes….does anyone really want to hear about my experience on Boxing day at a relatively exclusive shoe shop downtown?
It started innocently enough, like most battles do. I found the absolute perfect pair of black low boots on sale, but in the wrong size. The Aggressive Sales Lady tried to convince me to still buy them.
I remembered being a child and going to the shoe store with my mother. How I used to agonize whether the shoes fit right or not. “Can you feel your toes?” my mother used to ask me. “Are you sure it is the right size? I don’t want to buy shoes for you that don’t fit when we come home.”
I remember walking around the shoe store, glancing at the shoes with heels that I really wanted, but I did not bother asking. We both still remembered the unfortunate incident when I managed to fall out of a new pair of shoes, just as we got home and twisted my ankle. The shoes were returned to the store and I was going to get flat shoes until I was old enough to buy my own shoes.
“You buy this size, it is good!” I was back in the Vancouver shoe shop with the very insistent and Aggressive Sales Lady who only cared about her commission. “Try insoles!” she said. She had no idea who she was dealing with. I can look innocent enough for a while.
I wanted the boots, but I wanted them in the right size. They were sold out. I gave up on them. I walked around the store and found another pair of winter boots that I could see myself wearing as I was walking up a snowy hill somewhere on a romantic winter date…and then I noticed a weird circle on the front of the boot. I pointed out the circle and asked for a fresh pair.
“No, this is the last pair. They are on sale.” The Aggressive One glared at me. She said she could easily get the circle out with some shoe polish. But after her less than enthusiastic efforts the circle was still there, like somebody had stamped the front of the boot. Another Sales Lady came up to us. She looked angry. The two Sales Ladies started muttering in a foreign language and rolling their eyes at me. I headed towards the door.
“You don’t want the boots?” they hissed.
“No” I said, and opened the door.
“Wait, we will give you something!”
I stopped. Give me what? this started to look like a story to me. I turned around slowly and the Angry One came running up to me holding something. “You want chocolates?” she asked.
Chocolates? in a shoe store?
“No, I don’t want chocolates! I want boots in my size and boots without weird circles on them.”
“No one can see the circle, just you, look!” the Angry One held the boot up under a light.
“I am leaving” I said.
“Wait, we will give you something else!”
What would they offer me now…shoe laces? all I wanted to hear was that they would give me an extra discount.
I started my haggling ways back in the old country. It was not uncommon to do some haggling in certain stores. I learned this fine craft from my mother on our frequent shopping excursions. I perfected my haggling during my trips around Greece when I was a bit older. I love haggling. It is a sport, and I need to win.
“No one haggles here” said a sales woman at Lonsdale Quay to me as I was trying to get a good price for a silver ring there a few years ago. “But I like it, it is very common in Turkey. I will give you a great deal!” she said and shook my hand. “You are good at haggling, this was fun!” she added and smiled.
I have managed to get some excellent discounts on a lot of items over the years. My Ex used to be terribly embarrassed by my shameless haggling ways, and yet, he thorough enjoyed all the deals I got. Of course.
Back to the shoe store in downtown Vancouver on Boxing day.
“I will give you shoe polish and a few dollars off the final sales price” said the Aggressive One. That was the best offer yet, although I would have preferred free insoles and a better discount.
“I never polish my shoes” I replied.
“Why not?!” said the Aggressive One and glanced at my shoes.
“We are NOT giving her shoe polish AND a discount, it is either or!” said the Angry One. And then they started arguing with each other, and I started heading for the door again.
“WAIT! you don’t want the boots?! ” they yelled after me.
Well, yes, I wanted those furry snow boots. I could still see myself on that romantic date, wearing the snow boots and climbing up a hill somewhere. But I wanted a deal. I am not a hopeless romantic, and you can look long and hard before you see any stars in my eyes.
“This is the worst customer service I have ever seen anywhere! can I just pay for these and get out of here?” I said, my patience officially lost, and I was running late for a social engagement at a nearby hotel lounge.
“I cannot give you a discount, look at how I have to ring things in, the computer won’t let me” said the Angry One with the long bangs and the furrowed brow.
“I don’t care how you ring things in, can I pay now? and by the way, what is your name?” I replied.
“Why? I am not going to tell you my name! you don’t like my service, you don’t get my name!”
I wondered briefly if I was in a Punk’d episode and Ashton Kutcher would jump out from behind the counter all of a sudden. Luckily there were no other customers in the store. It was just the three of us embroiled in this ridiculous battle of the snow boots.
I finally got my boots. I also got my discount and my shoe polish. I rushed to the hotel lounge where I was meeting a new friend and an old friend. My hair had frizzed, I was sweating like I had just been in the ring with Tyson and I was a bit frazzled.
I managed to say hello before I fell down in the chair and asked for a stiff drink. And then I told my shoe story.
My old friend rolled his eyes at me and fished up the boots out of the bag, to make sure I had gotten the same size boots.
My new friend burst out laughing, called me a Store Gladiator and said she would love to be able to kick up a fuss for a good deal. I would not necessarily recommend anyone to try my haggling ways. It is not a good way to make friends. I will have to avoid going to that particular shoe store for a while. Until the summer sale is on perhaps…
One day I will be wearing these furry boots on a romantic winter date, climbing up a hill to a cozy Ski Lodge after a long day of cross-country skiing. And thanks to the boots, I wrote this story. My insistent friend who offered to buy a story the other day will be pleased. This one is for you, and it is free!