Life Without Style

Reflection: Summer Holidays 2015 (Part 2)

This reflection of my summer is split into two parts. The first part is here. Note to self, add links.


“On the other hand, I had my part-time summer job at Clarks which paid much better. It was back to school season, which means parents are coming in for their kids’ new shoes for the upcoming school year. Depending on how busy it was and what roles we were allocated to that day, I measured little feet and big feet, and fitted shoes for a lot of those feet.”

I was really nervous about fitting at first, as my first few tries weren’t really successful – the people who double-checked my fittings told me the shoes were usually too large. I just rolled with it though – as it just kept getting busier I had no time to keep asking others to check. During this time I learned that engaging with the kids is key – asking them how the shoes felt and to stick their toes up and to point to their toes where I couldn’t feel them and point to the tight areas… Some kids are really quiet and not so helpful and some will channel all their physical awareness to their feet and give you a detailed 300-word report on how they feel. From there on, it’s mostly gut feeling. Also, when in doubt, go for larger. Most parents are happier with more room than with shoes that last two months.

I have met an interesting variety of people through this job, colleagues and customers alike. I know I shouldn’t have favourite customers, but let’s be honest here… the little toddlers who have just learned to walk, who look incredibly happy in their new pink rainbow shoes and who don’t cry when I pull out the toddler measuring gauge, are the best. I think that’ll be a treasured memory for a while.

The worst kind of customers are the ones who don’t follow the system and complain afterwards. I did mention this somewhere else on this blog, but we have a ticket system on busy days. You line up to get the feet measured, then grab a ticket, pick your shoes, someone calls out your ticket and helps you out. It’s fairer for those that (theoretically) arrive first and means the staff can get around to serving everyone. Plus, the ticket waiting list doesn’t usually get higher than 5 people. A woman didn’t get her children’s feet measured nor did she get a ticket to be served, but asked me if I could grab some stock from the back. When I declined, she remarked that the service was ‘crap’. Sigh. When it’s not busy I will say yes to some people, especially if they ask nicely. I am a sucker for nice people.

The most entertaining customer? A pre-teen who had decided on a specific shoe, but didn’t like either available pair of the size she wanted. This was because there were scuff marks on both. On one pair, the right shoe had a noticeable scuff down the side, but the scuff on the right shoe of the other pair was practically invisible unless you held it to your nose. She and her father had a loud, ridiculous argument over the visibility of that scuff and I could not help but smile at its absurdity.

My last shift ended up getting extended. I finished mid-afternoon, ate my lunch, and had just started my walk home when I froze at the corner of the road realising I had forgotten my house keys. I turned back to see my brother who was also working that day, but had just started and would finish later, and grab his keys. Later he would remind me that my aunt was home, but hey. Anyway, my boss asked me if I wanted to stay longer so my brother and I would finish shifts at the same time (paid and all) and, well, I had money on the mind.

The thing is, in the hour that I had been gone, the entire store had been trashed by unknown forces. Shoes are often in the wrong place at this time of day, but this was a shock to my system. You know it’s bad when you find the little size 5s amongst the big size 6s, and the odd shoes found are all in a pile that goes up to my knees. What is it that compels people to take one shoe and not its matching pair, especially when they are placed together on the shelf? Even worse, not putting it back at all (gotta appreciate the people that make an effort to put them in vaguely the right place).

I was really hoping to be able to keep this job after the summer ended, but due to conflict with my parents over my grades and the clash between work and study (it’s like, 4 hours a week!) I am now without job. I did earn a lot this summer which is lots to be happy about, and if my parents dare to drag me up to the salon this Christmas season I will bring up their side of the argument.

This year, I have work to do.


(P.S. Also, since I do need permission to buy something that costs a lot, I must mention that Dad refused to let me buy the new phone I have coveted recently. Sigh. I know, I’m 17, I need a better degree of independence. Or worse, depending on your view. For context, my current one is about 5 years old and so out of date that WhatsApp can no longer run on it.)

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