Step into a store and browse for a while. In no time you will be pleasantly greeted by a customer service representative asking you if you needed any help. Most of us decline and make a positive note about the store and its personnel. Accept the offer of help and watch the smile decline.
11 a.m on a Tuesday is hardly a time one would expect a footwear store to be crowded and it wasn’t. I was the only customer who walked in and that should have given the person at the register something to cheer up about. But I suppose a baby in one of the arms, a diaper bag in another, a sling bag dangerously close to coming off the shoulder and car keys dangling out of the right pocket didn’t make me look like a real shopper. The lady at the desk mouthed her customary words “let me know if you need help finding something” in a well practiced tone meant to convey assistance. I mumbled ok and walked further inside the aisles for I was on a mission today. I needed a pair of black sandals that had heels but not too high, appeared glossy but didn’t shine too much, were simple to wear and yet stylish enough for any occasion. And yes, they would have to go with any damn thing I wore. According to me it wasn’t asking for too much.
Dear hubby had patiently accompanied me to a couple of stores over the weekend and even tried to convey as subtly as possible that what I was looking for was actually 3 different kinds of footwear. Do you even know what you are looking for, he asked, nearly on the verge of breaking down from the sheer exertion of watching so many sandals being tried on and tossed aside. Of course I do, that’s why we are still looking, I said. If not I would have simply picked up the first pair I liked. In the end we both knew if there ever was any hope of finding those perfect black sandals, it had to be done by me alone.
The only hitch to that being, technically speaking I am never alone. I sometimes have an infant stuck at the hip, other times I have a toddler pulling at my sleeve, most of the times, I have both. The exceptional occasions when I am kid-free, my mind is not.
If it has to be either of them, I try not to go shopping with the toddler because these days she has her own shopping list ready before mine. The baby saves me some money but makes it difficult to shop. Like today. Once again the familiar stage was set. I had a row of sandals lined up at my feet waiting to be tried on, a task not as easy as I had to balance myself while holding baby no.2 who decided to swing in action that very minute. She spotted the sales lady sorting some shoes a little distance away. “EEEEEE” baby no. 2 calls at her wildly waving hands as if thrilled to bump into an old friend. Having recently experienced the horrors of what happens next, I braced for the worst possible reaction.
Nothing so dramatic happened. The lady came a few inches closer and asked me a few customary questions like how old is she and isn’t cute? The sweet talk seemed to have healed baby no.2’s bruised ego and she happily looked away at the colorful footwear. I followed her eyes and there on the top rack I found my perfect sandals.
Now comes the customer service part. Struggling with my belongings and a happy baby, I asked for help. Of course, the lady said in a voice slightly higher than the welcome address and with a note of faint irritation. I was in no mood to forgive. I gave her a look which if translated into words would have meant this – listen up lady, I haven’t asked you to change a diaper or carry the baby to the car, I am just asking you to take those black sandals out of the top rack and bring them to the counter where I can pay for them. Incidentally, you asked me twice if I needed assistance and also since the store is empty but for me, you might as well make a customer happy!
For the second time in the day I was relieved to be out without hubby, he would have approved of neither the look nor the sandals.