One is a 6 and the other is a 3.
You would think this would be a fairly simple matter for anyone to understand.
You would be wrong.
It would seem that the concept of mismatched feet is a difficult one for the average denizen of Britain’s shoe selling establishments to grasp. Which is odd, given that there must surely be a fair number of people with odd size feet, and that every pair of feet must, at some point, pass through a shoe shop.
So why in the name of arse is it so spectacularly difficult for anyone working in a shoe shop to get their head round the idea that my feet are Not The Same Size?
I went into a certain, well-known shoe shop the other day. I was lured in by the sight of a rather comfortable looking pair of grey shoes. I have had something of an ongoing quest for grey shoes recently, and there they were, all soft and shiny and grey, calling softly to me.
Disclaimer – I am not some Imelda Marcos type, determined to obtain shoes in every colour of the rainbow. I just happen to have a lot of grey/khaki/blue clothes and only an ancient pair of grey Nike trainers to wear with them.
I should have known better. I should have resisted temptation but they lured me in with their wily greyness. Even Ben could presumably see what was coming, judging from the way in which he began beating my back frantically with his fists and Mmmmmming in distinctly worried tones.
I ignored him and made my way to the display where the grey shoes were flaunting themselves provocatively, whispering buy me, BUY me. I stroked them gently and they snuggled against my hand. Buy me.
There was still time to turn and walk away. Ben’s Mmmmming now had a slightly desperate edge and he had resorted to pulling my hair. But then a shop assistant slid into my line of sight and the next thing I knew I was uttering the fateful words.
“Do you have these in a six…..and a three?”
The assistant’s eyes slid sideways almost imperceptibly and her shiny, practiced smile slipped just a tiny bit.
“A six AND a three?”
MMMMMMMmmmmmmm! I ignored the now completely hysterical baby and plunged into the fray.
“Yes. A six. AND a three.”
The assistant looked about, slightly frantically.
“Um. We can’t do that.”
With a terrible sinking feeling I realised that I had once again allowed myself to be drawn into the Shoeshop Dance of Doom. But I took a deep breath and pushed on into the fray.
The assistant was now squinting at me. Well not actually at me. Somewhere just past my left ear, as though she was hoping I would disappear before she had to make eye contact again.
“That must be annoying.”
At which point she leaned over the counter and peered at my feet. I should probably have performed a little dance. Maybe an odd-soft-shoe-shuffle.
I then made the spectacular mistake of asking if she could throw away the odd shoes in the bin behind the counter.
"Because I can't use them and don't want to carry them around on my lunchbreak."
"But you can make another pair with them."
At this point she lined up the unwanted shoes into a pair and pointed proudly at them.
"But I can't wear them."
"Because they are the wrong sizes."
She then looked very puzzled and said "But they are the same as the other ones".
I then explained slowly and carefully that no, they weren't the same as one had a left foot size 3 and the other had a right foot size 3.
So she moved them all around a bit more and then said "Well someone else could wear them".
By this time two other members of staff and a couple of customers were starting to snigger so I said I would just take them all and throw the unwanted ones away myself.
"Um, because I don't know anyone with the opposite size feet to mine."
At this point she came up with the best suggestion ever. Her face lit up.
"Well can't you just wear them on the wrong feet?"
This is the reason why I do most of my shoe shopping in the US.
He twinkled at me.
Well of course you bloody will. If I pay for them.
The rest of my time in the shop passed in something of a blur. I am pretty sure I remember shrieking “Those ones! Bring them in the aquamarine! And do you have any lilac ones?” but I might have been hallucinating by that point.
I didn’t leave with any aquamarine shoes. But I did have to go to the luggage department and buy a new suitcase before I could leave the store with my haul.
So having experienced the utopia of mismatched footwear that is Nordstrom, you can probably understand that I have little patience for arguing the toss over a £6.99 pair of Shoezone elasticated black shoes that will no doubt leak in the rain and turn my feet an odd shade of purple.