One of the few perks of owning my own kids clothing store is that I can occasionally supply my kids with, well, clothing. While Jonah is quickly growing out of the shop, occasionally I can still find things for Evie, but she's not far behind her brother. Recently I got a slew of items in that would fit her, so on my day off we drove to Healdsburg to do some Back to School shopping.
Perhaps you remember a tale I once told about a customer of mine who drives me up the wall? Yes, her.
We went through the usual routine: she asks me if some shoe would fit her son, I say I have no idea; she asks me if I have any other shoes in the back in approximately her son's size, saying that she doesn't even care if they're girl's shoes, she just needs shoes! I bring out two pairs - one girl's pair, but brown and maybe passable in a 'European' way, and one pair of REI hiking boots in perfect condition. She asks the prices of both. I tell her the girl's are $7, the hiking boots are $14. After the hemming and hawing, she says she doesn't have enough money (and yet she'd come into the store...seemingly to buy shoes). She then asked if I could 'float her some store credit'.
This is the part I'm not proud of: I said no. But only because this was not our first Rodeo together and I knew what can of worms that would open, and I didn't have the patience for worms.
She said she understood. Then she spotted some shoes behind me that had just come in - they were sparkly and fun and fabulous, and she asked me to put them on hold because she wanted them for her daughter.
I told her I'd hold them for 24 hours, which is standard. She didn't come back for them. Fast forward.....
When I brought the kids to the shop to look for clothes, Jonah miraculously found a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, Evie founds some skirts and shirts, and she also found...those shoes. They were a bit large, but as long as shoes don't cause my kids to fall on their faces, I prefer to say 'room to grow' as opposed to 'too big.' Evie was delightedly practicing walking in them when in walked that customer.
Oh, I should also mention here that we went on this shopping spree on one day the store is closed - aka, my day off. So there we are, strutting our shoes, a sign on the door that says 'CLOSED', and in she walks with her daughter - the would-be owner of my daughter's beloved new shoes - in tow.
She had a garbage bag of balled-up clothes that she was hoping I'd go through in order to get some store credit, but I said that we were in fact closed and had only just stopped in for a few minutes. She asked about the shoes. I said that they weren't on hold anymore since it had been a long five days since she'd last been in. Meanwhile I was trying to use sign language to get Evie to understand that she should go behind the counter to HIDE from the crazy lady that wanted her shoes. But no. The crazy lady had spotted the shoes. And so she began:
"Oh wait, look...oh! Oh, sweetie go behind that counter there where that other little girl is and look at the shoes she's wearing. Go look honey bear! Those are the shoes I wanted to get you! Ohhhhh....they're so pretty, I know, I love the sparkles! Ohhhh...gosh I just wish they were still on hold! Oh man...I just couldn't get in here on time...."
I tried to keep my eyes from rolling all the way back into the furthermost reaches of my head and commented that this was certainly awkward, since my daughter had literally just put the shoes on and was excited about getting them, but the look of perpetual disappointment and the blank-eyed pout on her daughter's face made me stop.
I took Evie aside and knelt down to quietly explain that this woman had really hoped to get these shoes for her little girl, and did she think she might be able to let them go since she was already getting some great new clothes?
And people - my girl may have first given me a very clear you've got to be fucking kidding me look, but then she checked out that other little girl, and she must have realized that right there was one compadre who needed those shoes more than her. She took them off, picked them up, and handed them over kindly, saying "here you go."
I was so proud and tolerant in that moment that it was almost easy for me to keep from going postal when that sad little girl's mom asked me to put those goddam shoes on hold.
That's right: On. Hold. Bitch has got some balls, I'll give her that.