Elevated Footwear

Okay. Bear with me. The last couple of shifts at work put into perspective the physical stress of working minimum wage retail for twelve to fifteen random hours per week (which makes working a second job tricky) but yesterday may have been the other shoe dropping.

Yes, shoes. Houston, we have a problem.

(I also continue to mention the actual number of hours I work because I need more of them but I don’t think I could – or even should – be on my feet more than I already am. And I have no idea how I could work a second job when the schedule for the one I have is like a moveable feast for anorexics.)

Anyway, yesterday, right before the start of my shift, I found a great pair of really good shoes, on sale (but still $100), that fit, not just my bill, but the bill for style and comfort.

Very chic they are, too, if I do think so myself.

Alas, the head cheese thinks otherwise (her thinking included a lecture and offer to take me shopping – impossible given her schedule and the fact that I can’t leave the store during my shift – to “elevate” my style) and so now today will include a a shoe returning adventure – in spite of a “no return on sale items” warning on the receipt.

I don’t want to buy anything I can’t wear to work, although the shoes are the real deal, so if I can’t return them it won’t be the end of my world.

The thing is, though, the thing that has stuck in my craw such that, well, you know, is that even if it was about the shoes, which of course it isn’t, she’s wrong. She’s wrong about what constitutes an “elevated” style, particularly amongst our customers.

Now, I may not always dress like it, but I’m my mother’s daughter, and my mother knows style and the shoes are exactly what I should be wearing at work. Not an approximation, even, which was why I was so excited to buy them. Like I said in paragraph four, they fit the bill exactly, all systems go, boxes checked off, yahoo!

I’m so right about this that, well, yeah, right, okay, it’s not about the shoes.

Customers are attracted to my style, and not just the one I adopted via the thrift shop for my new job, which is one reason why I’m so good at selling merchandise that, old-timers confide, has deteriorated significantly in quality now that the company is owned by a private equity firm.

Regular priced merchandise is a tough sell, a really tough sell, and managers can deny it all they want but I’m on the floor and all that’s selling is on sale.

Anyway, the other thing is that I arrived to my shift at the end of the head cheese’s shift, at which time she called out one of the university girls who works there (so fun, the university girls, and smart enough to know better than to take a minimum wage retail job seriously) for a different style infraction (and how she could pick just one is beyond me), and people were just such a disappointment to her in general, well, if I hadn’t brought attention to the shoes I might not have got a no on wearing them to work and all would be much as it was, physically demanding work for not enough money, but, yeah, okay, we’re good for now.

So the real problem is that the incident is reminiscent of being a kid when my mother would say no to something and that was it.


Like I said, merchandise only moves when it’s reduced – significantly – in price, and the old customer base is dropping off and not being replaced. A new sheriff’s in town and there’s no loyalty to the brand because the brand doesn’t deserve it.

Meanwhile, the system we’ve moved to now requires managers to justify employee hours based on sales and if it was difficult to man the barricades before it’s even more difficult to man them now and it’s only a matter of time.

Still, I’m willing to compromise where I can and I’ll see about returning the shoes today in hopes of matching a style to which I doubt I will ever become accustomed, but not without an unexpected awareness of how not unlike the public service the private sector is in Canada these days.

So, moving forward, as they say at meetings when there’s no point in saying anything, I think I’ll take my cue from the university girls, not to mention the private equity firm that owns the company, and stop giving a shit.

It’s only a matter of time, I give it a year, before the whole enterprise disappears down the rabbit hole. And it won’t have anything to do with our “elevated” style of footwear and everything to do what our politicians refer to as “the economy” being nothing but smoke and mirrors.



  1. Well that sucks. You were liking this joint when you got the job.

    This kind of control nonsense makes me crazy. I am not much of a consumer and I try really hard to stay the hell out of stores, but when I do I want to deal with someone whose feet do not hurt and who is not frustrated by having their shoes approved or not. I don’t think unhappy employees make for good retail experiences.

    Also, who the hell knows what is appealing, fashionwise, to the general public? My offspring and I and my two best friends have such divergent tastes that we all like different things aesthetically and we all think the other three have all their taste in their mouths.

  2. I know, eh? I still like it, but yeah, it’s always something, isn’t it. Mostly it’s just fun for me being good at sales. Who knew? Anyway, I was able to charm the store into an exchange and now I’ve got a pair of shoes that should work for everybody. They even have a bit of a heel. Better support, too. But who knows?

    No point in arguing with management but yeah, they’re out of step on style, in my opinion. Also, we used to share a laugh about the odd bit of merchandise (expensive crap) but I’ve noticed now we’re supposed to pretend it’s worth every penny. It’s stupid, because customers aren’t fooled. Corporate suits are trying to pawn cheap crap off on people they think don’t know any better except that they do. And so it just sits there. And really nice products that the store used to stock? We don’t get them anymore.

  3. This kind of bullshit drives me nuts. I’d be tempted to tell her to pound sand, stick her own shoes where the sun don’t shine, and fuck you and the horse you rode in on. (Sorry, I’m from Flin Flon, as I’m often reminded). Sigh. Welcome to Harperland. Wage Slaves ‘r Us.

  4. What sucks is the lack of a sense of humour about the decline of the retail empire from people who knew better a month ago. It’s like she woke up one day last week and decided to become an idiot. Anyway, my short-term passive aggressive plan is to out-dress management, which I can do without buying anything new. And my long-term passive aggressive plan is to sew myself a couple of outfits. Heh – maybe a ballgown! The university girls would get a kick out of that…