Mr. Take a year is not what I would consider a “super fan of going shopping”. He has excellent taste and is interested in products and services. He believes in research. He also hates a sales pitch, being asked to sign up for reward cards and terrible customer service. He is incredibly loyal to products that are built to last and if he buys something of quality that he believes in, the company that made it will almost certainly have a customer for life in him.
But again, he hates to shop, which is why I was sweating a little at the thought of getting new shoes with him today. To be clear, he was only willing to buy new shoes because the flops he was wearing were literally slicing into his foot with each step. If a shoe feels weird on one of our kids’ polished toenails, they will never again put it on their precious foot. But their father will live his life without complaint wearing flagellant shoes to avoid the far more unpleasant reality of buying another pair from a store.
We stopped into an unnamed Great Outdoorsy superstore today because they carry the best range of flops, slides and sandals. I found an adorable pair of ankle boots on sale for $17 and after searching for a few minutes I found a cluster of employees that could check inventory for me. Because I wasn’t raised by wolves, I patiently waited for a break in their conversation before asking if they wouldn’t mind looking in the back for me. The associate who first made eye contact with me looked dejected and asked her coworker if he was going to help me. I prayed that my husband was absorbed in the subtle variations of patterned clogs nearby because I was emotionally invested in buying the boots and not willing for him to leave in protest.
The associate came back to say that he had my size in the color I asked as well as black, which upped the ante. I went to try them on and my husband was buoyed at both my delight and his discovery of a perfect, non-wound inflicting pair of shoes in his size. Again I waited for an associate. A few minutes passed and another shopper looking for silver boating shoes wondered to the front of the store to find someone to assist her.
My husband made eye contact with me and I probably went a touch too far by giving him a winky eye and thumbs up, followed by the “okay” symbol of touching my thumb to my pointer finger and making a motion like I was pushing and pulling on an imaginary trombone slide. He was on to me and started walking over… I asked his opinion on the colors and he suggested getting the black pair or both because the black ones would go with more.
Quick question, why when you find the perfect pair of boots on sale does everything happen in slow motion??? I mean, I have bought two pairs of boots for myself in my lifetime and both times there were complications. (If I had bangs I would be doing the overbite looking thing where I blow them up in irritation right now). Which I did just now because I thought of it, only I don’t have bangs so nothing moved and I added a good old eye crossing – again, just a step too far, I know…
Roughly one quarter of a century later the guy comes back (yes, I dropped his title of “associate” because I was quickly losing faith in him at that point). I asked if he could bring me that black pair we had talked about (merely 25 years ago) and he said “I don’t know I think they are back there but there might be a hold on them for someone else”. Ugh.
No worries! I would take the pair that I was now clutching to my chest as if it was an award of merit. Feet planted and with the flops hanging dangerously off his fingertips, my husband asked about the black pair. I told him in the rushed way you do in the types of situations where you see your dream boots slipping through your fingers.
Oh, no. If I wanted the black boots I would have the boots; this was a matter of honor, he said. Okay, so he said it with his eyes, but he basically said it.
He almost set the flops on the shelf again, saying he would happily go to another place and buy from another merchant, but I assured him that I couldn’t miss out on the shoes and he couldn’t continue to torture his feet on account of one unenthusiastic employee.
We proceeded to the checkout, where the customer care representative assisting us noticed my husband’s firefighting tee shirt and asked him for his ID so that he could give us a 10% off discount in accordance with the store’s policy. My husband showed him his department ID and the customer care representative suggested that he always have it ready at check out. My husband told him that he never liked to ask for it, but thanked him for thinking of it. To which he said, “No, sir, thank you, Thank you for your service. You are a hero”.
Let’s take a moment here where I stop crying. Cheeseball McGhee over in the shoe department almost cost me my boots and then, right around the corner was this guy. With a simple act and a humbling, sincere compliment he earned a customer for life with me. Which means that I should probably go back for the black pair, right?