Tuesday, May 1, 2007

9 to 5

My very first job was collecting Japanese beetles off my neighbors rose bushes. I was 7 or 8 when I got started down this career path. I can still those shiny green beetles in my memories. I used the lid of a mason jar to gently scrape the beetles off the leaves and petals and into the jar which was about half full of water. Sometimes I’d stop to watch the beetles swimming madly, climbing over each other trying to find a way out of their watery grave.

Once licensed to drive, I moved to mall jobs. The first was at a Hallmark store, only slightly less appropriate for me than baby sitting. It didn’t last long, and there were a few shattered ‘tender moments’ statues left in my 16 year old dust.

I took the next job because my best friend at the time was doing it and I could think of nothing that wouldn’t be fun with her by my side.

This was the first mistake in a series.

I accepted a job at Stride Rite.
That’s right.
Me selling kids shoes.
And hard baby shoes.
(Go ahead, ask me how I know how hard they are).

My experience tells me that little kids and babies really don’t like wearing shoes. Or at least they don’t really like a teenager jamming them on their little sweaty kid feet. Everyone ooh’s and ahh’s over the ‘weeboks’, and people, those shoes are cute,
IF they are dangling from your rear view mirror.

Lace and I used to size up each child being forced into the hard plastic orange and yellow chairs and play rock, paper, scissors to determine who would take each one on.

One day when I lost the battle, I took on a toddler that had disaster written all over him.
I thought even his own mom was going to make a break for the door without the little angel. She looked like she had quite simply HAD IT. Apparently not though since she proceeded to attempt to force her cranky, spaghetti (?) stained toddler to sit still so I could prance back and forth to the store room with a dozen pairs of shoes or more. This kid kicked (see hard baby shoes above) drooled and pulled hair. MY hair. Mom didn’t quit. More shoes. More kicking. More drool. More hair pulling.

Even Lace wasn’t laughing anymore.

Trying to rescue me, Lace pulled out all the stops. Toys, coloring books and finally the lollipops came out. At first this seemed like the solution to all my problems. The wailing stopped. The drool stayed confined to his chin and t-shirt, the kicking slowed to a pace I could easily dodge. As I pulled the eleventy billionth pair out of the box and bent to put them on, with minimal struggle from Junior, I silently proclaimed my best friend a genius. Both shoes on, mom finally satisfied, I bent to remove them.

The lollipop magic was wearing off, but this close to the finish line I was not to be deterred.
One shoe off and in the box.
I reached for the second shoe, get kicked (again)
I felt him reach for more hair and without looking up, pull back to avoid his sticky fingers..(or so I thought.)

Second shoe off and in the box.

I heard Mom gasp at the same time Junior utters his first intelligible sentence.
“I hate you, shoe lady!”

Thinking things that will surely hold me in karmic debt for the rest of my natural life I picked up the box, dropped it on the counter for Lace to ring up and headed for the store room to dislodge the lollipop stuck firmly in my hair.


roo said...

and that dear friends, is where jenny lou learned how to drink.
thanks, jen. great way to start my day!

Biff Spiffy said...

Jenny LOU!

Yep. I totally believe that fits, even better than infant shoes.

Once a friend and I were waiting in the car for my dad, who was in the barbershop. We were youngsters, probably around 7-8 years old. He pulled a wad of gum from his mouth and wrapped it around my head like a turban.

That preceded my first buzz cut.

Kids are gross.

Awesome story!

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Hard baby shoes. Still not as bad as stepping barefooted on a Leggo piece* on the kitchen floor, but painful, nonetheless.

*or a little metal car.


kenju said...

I know how hard they are; my son wore Striderights for years. I think there isn't enough money in the world to convince me to sell shoes to children.

utenzi said...

I don't have any kids. I saw too many situations like the one you were in, Cravey. I just can't see why anyone wants kids. I'd have the screaming mimis!

tiff said...

Crap crap crappity crap......

blogger ate my comment.

It said that i totally loved this story, yet cannot for the life of me envision you as a stride rite lady. Hellz no.

rennratt said...

Oh, man. I love kids, but this one?

I'd have to...I dunno.

I would have punched the mom for allowing the brat to torture me.

My kid lived in socks and birkenstocks for the first 2 years of her life.

No Stride Rites. EVER.

Anne said...

I used to HATE having someone I didn't know touch my feet when I was a kid, especially if the sales person was male. I don't know why exactly. It just gave me the heebie-jeebies. Come to think of it, I still wouldn't shop in a shoe store that isn't self-service to this day. Yep, another weird trivia fact about me. :p