I'll Have Some Shoes With a Side of Phlegm, Please

I went shopping for new work-appropriate sandals on Thursday, because the ones I have been wearing are three years old and are being held together with glue that I found in a drawer in the copy room at the office. I have this tendency to wear an article of clothing until my wearing of it would be either an act of public indecency or an endangerment to my health, so I am quite proud of myself for buying a new pair of sandals before the old ones decided to give out on some steep and secluded stairwell.

I went to P@yless, because they were having their seemingly continual Get 2 For The Price of 1-and-a-Half Sale. I rarely go to P@yless unless I know exactly what I'm looking for, because I find that the twelve-foot high walls of shoes lined with identical boxes rising up on all sides are almost seizure-inducing. I am not sure how long I was standing in front of the size 7s, swaying back and forth, hypnotized by the visual hum of row upon row of footwear, but I was suddenly snapped into the here and now by a salesperson, who I will henceforth refer to as Cindy. She looked to be about twenty and sported a ponytail, blue eyeliner, and what smelled like fruity gum snapping in her right cheek.

Cindy: Are you finding what you're looking for?

Me: Uhm... I looked down, and to my surprise, a box of shoes was already in my hands. Yeah, I am, I mean, I have... I've got these.

Cindy: Yeah, I know how confusing it is. I can only assume that she thought I looked very lost. I mean, there're all these rows of shoes in all these different sizes and styles and then you find a pair you like but they come in three different colours and you wonder if you should get the lime green because they go with you favourite t-shirt or if you should go with pink because half of what you wear is pink.

Me: Uh...

Cindy: Do you know about our sale?

Me: Yes. I read the huge posters on my way in. It's the same one you always have.

Cindy: She prattled on at length as though she hadn't heard me about how the sale worked and how the second item didn't have to be shoes and how I could even get a shoe sponge as my second item, yada, yada, yada, and then she finished up her sales pitch with the following sound essay, Hack hack. Cough sniffle cough. Hack. Sucking globs of phlegm.

Me: Are you okay?

Cindy: Oh, yeah. I am supposedly not contagious anymore, but I'm grosser than ever. Hack hack snuffle blurp. I probably shouldn't be here, because I actually don't give a damn about this place anymore. It's my last day and I'm sick and I don't care. What am I doing here?

Me: Um, other than selling shoes?

Cindy: You want to know what's really weird? My teeth hurt on the top left side. She drew an imaginary line with her finger along the top of her nose, across her cheekbone, and down to the left corner of her mouth. My sister's a doctor, and she says that everything's connected and that's why my teeth hurt. It has to do with my infection. Snurgle snork hack thick-sounding swallow cough.

Me: Yep. That's how the body works.

Cindy: She segued into telling me about purses and these weird tiny, nylon footcovers of the kind my grandma used to wear, and then she abruptly changed topics. Honestly, I would rather bang my head repeatedly on this counter, she said, making a sideways head-banging motion where she stood next to the cash register. I could just bang it and keep banging it and never stop until my shift was over.

Me: How much longer do you have left?

Cindy: Oh, about an hour-and-a-half, if I live through this boredom and don't throw up. Hack sniffle sniffle splorge more phlegm-swallowing gulp. Then, she brought a shoe sponge over to show me what she called its "awesomeness". Did you know that this shoe sponge has the stuff already inside it? Look at my shoes. You would never guess that they were three years old.

I looked down and noticed that she was wearing those weird nylon foot covers inside her shoes. My grandma used to wear those under her Isotoner slippers.

This salesperson was confusing the fuck out of me. One moment she was trying to chat me up about product and the next she was either illustrating the disgusting phlegm depth in her lungs or threatening to publicly self-injure. Until this point, I had been somewhat mesmerized by her wild switching between forward conversation and graphic complaining, but it was beginning to make me twitch. She had not been further than three feet from me since I had entered the store. I was starting to feel harrassed. I grabbed a pair of rubber cloggy-type shoes off a rack.

Me: What do you think of these?

Cindy: My boyfriend told me that he would leave me if I ever started wearing those, snurg, even around the house. He calls them kitchen shoes, because guys at work wear them in the kitchen. Snuffle cough ahem. He's a chef, you know. She leaned in and pursed her lips when she said that, as though we would both agree that he did indeed rank highly as boyfriends went. He said that if I brought a pair of those home that he would know for sure that I was giving up on being attractive for him and that I probably didn't care too much if I was sexy, and I kind of agree with him, but they are really comfortable, not that I've ever tried them on, hack hack hnuth gooey-sputum swallow.

During her diatribe, I had slipped the shoes on and proceeded to jump up and down in them a number of times.

Me: These are like pillows for my feet. They're foot pillows. I'll take them.

Cindy: You're a brave woman.

Me: My unswerving courage to wear rubber injection mold footwear knows no bounds. (I doctored up this reply to sound smarter. In reality, I said something like Uh-huh).

So, now I am the proud owner of a pair of Airwalk® Compel II Garden Clogs. I have this kneejerk reaction to hearing a woman say that she won't use her own money in the manner that she would want because her boyfriend has a narrow view of women that she feels she should not transgress if she wants to keep his interest. Oddly, my kneejerk reaction manifested itself in the purchasing of rubber clogs. Also, as my second pair according to the sale, they were half-price and cost a mere fifteen dollars.

The garden clogs are not all I gained from my visit to P@yless, though. I also became the proud owner of my very own viral infection so generously bestowed upon me by Cindy. I now have her endearing snurgle hack slimey snuffle cough accompanied by a full compliment of joint and muscular aches and an inability to both sleep and breathe at the same time.

Cindy, your style of customer service will not soon be forgotten. Never before have I been served by such a candid shoe store salesperson or had service that came with such a delightful side order of disease. If you managed to resist smashing your head into the counter or dying of boredom or throwing up, which you expressed were real and present dangers of selling shoes and handbags, I do wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

Hack snurg thick phlegm gob cough snuffle. Ahem hack.