I think I figured out the problem with the stalled economic recovery. Me.
I hate to shop. And I’m not always sure when I need things, like haircuts or gym shorts or underwear. Fortunately, I’m married...
“You need to do something about those,” my wife said pointing at my athletic shoes.
“Seriously? They seem fine to me.”
“Your laces have broken so many times you can’t tie them, whatever the original color was is long gone, and the sole, or what’s left of it, has completely separated from the toe of your shoe. I can see your sock. At least I hope that’s your sock.”
“They don’t make things like they used to. I just bought these for our trip to Florida.”
“That was 10 years ago!”
Another part of the problem is when I do have to shop I hate shopping for things with too many choices.
“Boxers or briefs?”
“Oh man, I don’t know…”
So, with a bit of trepidation, I headed to the sporting goods store. They must have had a dozen aisles of shoes from floor to ceiling. I headed into the first one and groaned.
“Looking for shoes today?” a young man asked.
“How did you guess? Wait, my wife didn’t call did she?”
“Ahh, I don’t think so…”
I picked up a pair and sniffed them. Isn’t it amazing how foreign new stuff smells compared to what we are used to? I took another big sniff. Newness did kind of grow on you.
“Are you looking for walking shoes, running shoes, basketball shoes, tennis shoes, skate shoes or cross trainers?”
“What kind are these?”
“Those are ladies casuals.”
Ah jeez. Now the guy probably thinks I’m some kind of weird ladies shoe sniffer. I put the neon pink thing down then I got an idea. “Do you have any shoes on sale?”
“Yes. Everything that has a red tag.”
Great! I scanned the aisle. “They all have red tags.”
“I know. It’s our semi-annual pre-season, mid-season, post-season sale. Your lucky day I guess.”
“Right. Well, maybe we can simplify things. Do you have any like the ones I’m wearing?”
He looked down. “I’m not sure what those were, but I’m guessing we discontinued those when Clinton was president. Let’s start with these.” He handed me a couple of boxes.
I hate trying stuff on, too. I mean you are making a split-second decision on how something looks and feels that is going to be with you for apparently at least one presidential term, maybe two.
Fast forward several hours later. “Sir, we will be closing soon. Did you like any of them?”
Oh great, pressure. I looked at the mountain of open boxes that now surrounded my bench and the stacks of shoes lying around like sleeping puppies. “These,” I said, holding one up.
“Those are the ones you already own.”
Crap! I grabbed another puppy. “These?”
“Good choice. Our finest running shoe. And on sale today for just one-hundred and sixty dollars.”
I waited for him to laugh. “For a hundred and sixty bucks the things better run for me, shower for me afterwards and sprinkle on anti-fungal powder.” I grabbed another pair.
“Forty-nine ninety-nine,” he said. It still averaged out to be more than four bucks a year, but I took them and headed to the counter.
“Cash, check or charge?” the guy asked as he opened the box, took out the shoes and rifled though all the tissue paper looking for illegal contraband I guess. I wrote him a check.
“You have to have a driver’s license to buy shoes?”
“It’s for the check.” He entered the number into his computer. “I need your date of birth.”
“I can assure you I’m old enough to buy shoes.”
“It’s for the computer. Zip code?”
“You need my next of kin, too?”
“It’s not required, but...” That’s when the computer screen lit up with the words: “Contact Manager.”
“Shoot,” the clerk said. “I must have entered something wrong.”
“How about I use my credit card instead?”
“Too late for that now.”
It took five minutes for a manager to arrive. Another five minutes to unlock the computer. “Driver’s license?” he said.
I looked down at my old shoes. I think they got another year in them. Sorry America.