Seems simple, doesn’t it?
I need some new shoes. For work.
I had worked out (and it’s only taken me about 3 years to do this) that my “cheap and nasty” shoes that I get for work really are worth peanuts. Although I never normally spend over 30€, they are really crap. Not only do they let water in if it rains hard, they are like wearing just a pair of socks when it is very cold.
Since most of the day, I am sitting at my computer and since the MD considers anything above about 10°C too warm (and, therefore, most people in the office are really cold during the winter), my feet get exceptionally cold. And, when my feet are cold, it makes for a pretty miserable day where my only thoughts are on how to keep warm.
The other day, because I knew it was going to rain A LOT, I wore my new walking boots to work and I noticed that my feet didn’t get cold and, as a result, the rest of me felt pretty much OK. The day after, I wore my normal shoes and I really could feel the difference. I could feel the cold from the pavement seep through the shoes.
So, the solution was to spend a bit more money. I decided that normal shoes might also let the cold seep through and decided that what I needed was shoes that were designed for real walking (or treking, if you like) as these would be made with the idea of keeping the feet warm.
The only shop that I know sells walking boots (and where I recently bought my boots from) is Decathlon. Unfortunately, the only Decathlon I know that is not outside Milan, is over the other side of town. I had quite a lot to do on Saturday. The plan was that, after breakfast I would go to the supermarket, then to Decathlon, then to get some cologne for work, then do some editing, brush the dogs and, if time was left over, watch a film.
It started so well, if a bit late. Breakfast was about 10.30 and then I went to the supermarket as planned. I got the stuff I wanted and, these days, to avoid more interaction with people than is necessary, I use the self-checkout tills. It generally means that I don’t have to talk to anyone at all in the supermarket, which I much prefer.
I paid by credit card and then took my shopping and the receipt to the service desk (about 1 step away) and signed the credit card receipt for them. I went home and packed everything away.
Although I didn’t really want to leave the house again, the weather was OK and I really wanted the shoes. The question in my mind was – should I go up the road and get the cologne first or the shoes? I chose the shoes first. After all, the shoes required a metro journey (which I also dislike). So, off I went.
I arrived at Decathlon and, since I had been there for boots a few weeks before, I knew exactly where to find the shoes I wanted. I do like that – walking into a shop and just being able to go to the place you want without having to search the shop. In spite of the fact that it is sale time, there weren’t too many people in the shop, thank goodness.
I go to the walking shoe/boot area. There’s nothing exactly as I want but there are some that are near enough OK. I select these brown shoes. Well, actually they are a little like small boots – but that’s OK. They are for work.
I need size 43 or 44. Since these are walking shoes, they tend to be oversized so I try a 43 first. It fits perfectly and will be big enough even with thicker socks.
I go back to the “43 rack” and find the other one. In fact, there are only two pairs of these shoes in 43. It’s obviously the most popular size! I try on the other shoe and that also fits perfectly. I walk up and down a bit to make sure there’s no obvious problems. There aren’t, so I go to pay.
At the payment area, I have to queue a bit but it’s OK. I wait for about 5 minutes and then go to the cash desk that’s become available.
The guy checks the shoes. Inside is a little label. He checks each shoe.
“They’re different sizes,” he says. “One is 42 and the other is 43″. He hands them back to me and I thank him although, really, I am a a bit annoyed that they had a 42 on the 43 shelf.
I go back downstairs. This will only take a moment.
I check the other shoes on the 43 shelf. In fact, what I thought were another pair were, in fact, two right-foot shoes. and, in spite of them being on the 43 shelf, they are size 42. So, there is one right-foot shoe in size 43 (in my hand) and two right-foot shoes, size 42, 42 on the shelf and one left-foot shoe, size 42, in my hand. That’s it!
Bugger! I check the size 42 shelf below. Yep, they are all 42. The shelf is jam packed with pairs of shoes at size 42.
I check the shelf above – the size 44 shelf is jam packed with pairs of size 44. There is no left-foot 43 to be found!
I think for a moment. Well, the size 42 actually fits and the size 44 will be too big. I decide to try a pair of 42s. I get a pair that are fixed together by a thin piece of plastic wire. After all, these should be the same size!
Still, I double-check the small label inside
Yes, both 42. I try them on. They are fine. I take them up to the tills.
There is a short queue. There are only two tills open but it should be fine. Sure enough, one till becomes free almost immediately.
Unfortunately, the guy in front of me has two baskets full to the brim with stuff. He is buying things for his kids for skiing. He is going to take a (long) time at the till. I look at the other till. The couple are only buying about 4 things. Three of them are scanned by the assistant but there seems to be a problem with the fourth item. I don’t know this for sure but it seems as though the price the guy thought the product was is different from that which came up when it was scanned.
There’s a discussion and the assistant rings someone else. I am patient but I really do want to get out of here now. I’ve done with shopping.
The guy goes off (downstairs, I guess) to either get the right product or whatever and as the assistant starts putting their shopping on “suspend” so he can serve me, they open a third till.
I go there.
The assistant checks the size – but I know they are the same size and so I get my wallet out and open it up to get my credit card out.
As the guy rings up the shoes on the till, I see that my credit card is not there. I check to see if it is loose (rather than in it’s allotted slot) but, even as I do so, I already know where it is. Or, rather, where it was. It was in the payment machine at the self-checkout in the supermarket.
I tell the assistant that I left the credit card in the supermarket. I explain that we can try my debit card but I’m sure it won’t work. It doesn’t. I’ve maxed out my account, as I knew. I have more than enough cash but I don’t really want to use cash. He asks if I want to hold the shoes while I go and get my credit card.
I say “no” for two reasons. One is that the supermarket is the other side of town (which I explain to him). The other, of course, is that, maybe, horror of horrors, the credit card may not be at the supermarket any more!
However, I’ve got to try.
I go back towards home and straight to the supermarket, dreading the thought that it may not be there and having to stop the card, go to the police station and do a statement, fax that to the credit card company and then wait for a new one, etc., etc.
Plus, of course, here, in Italy, I’ve heard all sorts of tales about things like: even if you stop the card, until the statement is faxed, it isn’t really stopped – and you’re still liable! Plus, people don’t check the signatures here (take the supermarket which allowed me to sign without even seeing my card!!!!). Occasionally, like in Decathlon, you are asked for ID – but that isn’t guaranteed. So, more often than not, you can get away with using someone else’s credit card.
My friend, A, for example, regularly signs the slips with Mickey Mouse or something – and nobody checks!
I go to the service desk and ask about my card.
“What bank is it? What does it look like?” I am asked. Luckily, the company card is from the same bank so I show them that and say that it’s something like it.
They have a STACK of cards left behind! She searches through. She asks my name. I give it in the way it is on the card (surname first). She asks for ID.
RESULT! I have my card back. I toy with trekking back to Decathlon but decide not to as I really need to do the other things and the editing is important and I’m not sure how long that will take.
I go and get the cologne though, which is something.
My friend, FfI, texts me. Can we do coffee in the morning? I am almost certain that I can’t really as F and I shall go for breakfast in the morning and, probably, that won’t be early.
I suggest (as I MUST get these shoes for work) that she could come with me to Decathlon tomorrow. She say OK, maybe, and to call her tomorrow. At least this way I will definitely go and get some and not put it off (and then suffer all week with cold feet).
The next day dawns and we sleep through that (dawn, that is). In fact, we don’t get up until after ten. I take the dogs out while F cleans (again). I come back with the dogs and he hasn’t finished cleaning. In fact, I am pressed into doing some stuff. We go for breakfast about 11.30. After breakfast he goes across to the supermarket and, as I go home, I text FfI and suggest she comes to Decathlon with me. She arrives at my flat about 15 minutes later. We walk towards the metro stop. She keeps going on about taking the bus rather than the metro. She says she hates the metro. She says she always goes by bus and she prefers to “see” where she is going.
She also needs coffee as she hasn’t had breakfast.
I say OK to both, even though I point out that the metro is quicker. In fact, the real reason she wants to go by bus is that, going by bus she can get away without having a valid ticket. Going by metro this is not possible. She doesn’t say this directly but I’m not stupid. It’ll save her 2.60€!
As we approach the bus stops, she finds that the cafè she was hoping to go to is closed. We go to Sissi – a well-known bar here, in Milan.
She grabs something to eat and we order two coffees. She has something else to eat. I let her pay for my coffee (after all, she is making this trip to Decathlon veeeeeeery long).
We get on the bus and, after some time, arrive at Decathlon.
We go and find the shoes. I double-check the sizes and, just in case, try them on again (size 42).
I go and pay.
We go back to the bus stop. It really is a beautiful day although a little cool. The sky is a wonderful blue and so clear and, in the sun, it almost feels warm!
We get back near my house and she wants another coffee. We go up to a bar near my house. I hang the bag with the shoes on the back of the chair. We have coffee and smoke a few cigarettes and chat.
We leave to go home. Just a few steps from the cafè, I realise I don’t have my shoes. They are on the back of the chair. I go back and get them wondering if, in fact, these shoes are not really meant to be mine after all!
As I sit here, writing this, I have on the shoes. My feet are definitely much warmer so it was worth all the effort. The shoes aren’t as warm as the boots but, still, with thick socks too, I’m absolutely certain that my feet will be much warmer than last year! I bloody hope so after all the trouble I’ve had to go to to get them!