As 8 am hit, the sale became open to the public. The public referring to all the crazy people who had been standing outside, lined up in the rain. They ran in. Literally, I saw people running in. As if they were running to catch a bus or a train or a plane that a loved one was on and they had to stop them to tell them they love them before they leave forever and it’s too late like in one of those romantic comedies. Yes. Lucky for me, I was sitting down at that point, so I didn’t get knocked over or stepped on or anything.
I looked around and I could see people everywhere. It wasn’t safe for me to get up anymore. If I were to wander away from my seat by just a few steps, I would lose my seat, or worse, my shoes. Not gonna happen. It’s okay, looking at the shoes in front of a mirror was not essential. I could manage. It was okay. Everything was fine. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.
I had a problem. I couldn’t narrow it down. And as I looked around at all the crazy people around me, I realized something. I was crazy. And I hate to admit it, but I think I might have been the craziest person there. Why? While everyone else had one basket full of shoes, I had two. And people commented on it too. There were two nice ladies I was seated next to who I began to talk to. And one of them looked at my full baskets and asked “Do you have a limit at all?”. And I said “Yeah, sort of..”. And she said “What’s your limit?”. And I said “I don’t know…”.
We had to be careful too. Because at this point, employees were walking around, picking up and taking away shoes and baskets that had been discarded. They would ask if you were done with your stuff, and then take what you didn’t want. But when approached, everyone becomes so protective of their shoes, as if the employee is a predator threatening to take away their baby. You don’t want your shoes taken away while you’re still deciding. There’s no way you’ll be able to find them again. I would hate to have to work there during the sale. It must suck. A lot.
There were also cameras everywhere. Like a film crew, recording everything. I don’t know where exactly that footage will end up. But I hope the part where I was looking bewildered, trying to spot something on a shelf, then realizing the guy had the camera aimed right at my face is edited out. Because I know that will not be flattering in the least. They were also going around interviewing people about the sale. I overheard this girl ask some women if they would mind being interviewed but they declined. Because they didn’t want to be distracted from their shoes, no doubt. I might have done it, had they asked me. But then didn’t. All the better, as it gave me more time to focus on my shoes.
I tried them all on, weeded out a few, but still had far too many. I could eliminate those that were uncomfortable and might cut into the back of my feet or squish my toes. But somehow there were still a lot that I loved. This sort of thing never happens. At least not to this extent. I can see why people go early. They get in new shipments everyday, but still, if I went tomorrow instead of today, I wouldn’t have been able to find as many good pairs as I did.
We sort of had this sense of camaraderie going, those us sitting in that space with our shoes. Comparing, saying “Oh you have to get those ones!” and “Those are so cute!” and “Are there any more of those ones?”. And even offering up some pair every so often. I had some that were maybes or that I’d discarded, so I let another woman try them on. And this woman let me try on these boots that she wasn’t sure about, just in case she didn’t buy them.
At one point, the woman beside me asked if she could try on a pair of shoes in my basket. I said, “Oh, those are my shoes,” and she said “But can I just try them?”. And I had to explain to her that by “my shoes”, I didn’t mean I was going to buy them, I meant that I owned them, that they were the ones I walked into the store with that morning. I knew that was bound to happen. I overheard another girl say “My fear is that someone’s going to take the shoes I came in with“. You and me both, sister.
A little later, I had managed to condense everything into one basket. I told myself that was my limit. Whatever I could fit into one basket. Even if that basket was overflowing, apparently. At one point I just sort of sat there, staring at them. I knew I was going to buy them all. I thought about taking them out and trying on each pair again, just to make sure. But I knew there was no point. Like it or not, it was going to happen.
So I made my way over to the checkout. It was now or never. I felt judgement was upon me, as others had just a few pairs they were holding. I had eleven. Yes, eleven. I just counted them again to make sure I got that right. They advertise the sale as each pair being under $40. So naturally, I picked up all the pairs that were $39.99. I showed some hesitancy at the counter, but I gave in. At least I had the $100 gift card. I was hoping the girl might have given me the $500 by mistake, but sadly she did not. Even with the $100 gift card, I probably still spent more than a lot of people there. Let’s just say my total was under $500.
And so I was handed two large bags full of shoes, and sent on my merry way, filled with shame, excitement, happiness, and regret. It was a confusing mix of emotions. A shoe sale can do that to a girl.