If The Shoe Fits…

, , , , , | Working | March 1, 2018

(I am an assistant manager at a popular footwear store where customers pretty much find their own shoes unless they need help. My teammate this afternoon is a high-school-aged girl that has been employed longer than I have. A middle-aged gentleman has been in the sandal department for almost 30 minutes, trying on pair after pair of sandals. After checking in on him a couple of times, I decide to work on putting up a new display. Just when I start, the man gets my attention. He sounds both surprised and confused.)

Customer: “Well, I like these…”

Me: “Oh, you found a pair you liked?”

Customer: “Well, I mean I like these… but which one is men’s?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Customer: “I didn’t realize that this aisle had men’s and women’s sandals in it.”

(I’m a little taken aback by his confusion, since most of the women’s sandals have rhinestones, excessive straps, and could be considered quite “feminine,” whilst the vast majority of the men’s sandals are made to look like the tires of a monster truck for soles, with cargo straps for uppers.)

Me: “Oh, sorry about the confusion. The sandals on the display behind you are the men’s sandals.”

Customer: “Well… I like these.” *he points to his foot, which has a traditional-looking brown sandal on it* “I just noticed that it says, ‘Women’s,’ on the box, but they’re the most comfortable I’ve tried on.”

Me: “Oh, okay.”

Customer: “Can I still get them?”

Me: “Sure.”

Customer: “The only thing I noticed that might make them look like women’s shoes are the heel.”

(The heel in question is less than a quarter-inch high, and is barely visible when he is standing, but my coworker comes by.)

Coworker: “Because those are women’s shoes.”

Customer: “But… you can’t tell unless you see the heel, see?” *points at the heel* “Otherwise, they look like regular sandals. Can I still get them?”

Me: “Yes.”

Coworker:*simultaneously* “No.”

Customer: *to me* “They’re really comfortable.”

Coworker: “They’re women’s shoes.”

Customer: *to me again* “You can barely see the heel.”

Coworker: “They’re women’s shoes!”

Me: “If they’re comfortable, and you are okay with the fact that they weren’t designed with men in mind, I say get ’em.”

Coworker: *pleadingly* “But they’re women’s shoes.”

(I give my coworker the “shh” sign and she looks at the man’s feet.)

Customer: “They’re really comfortable; none of the men’s sandals were comfortable at all. I think I’ll get them.”

Coworker: *almost sounding scared* “But they’re women’s shoes!

(I look at my coworker angrily, and mouth to her to stop talking.)

Customer: “I’ll take them. I’ll wear them out.”

(I walked the man to the register as my coworker feebly muttered one last time about the sandals being women’s shoes. The man left happy, and my coworker didn’t talk to me for the rest of her shift. I found out the next day that my coworker was a member of a Christian denomination that has very clear views that men and women should never cross dress, which might have explained her reaction.)

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