I’m currently back working as a shoe repairer. Also a watch repairer, and a qualified engraver. And since I’ve been back, I’ve begun to hear again, all the things customers tend to say when they approach my counter. Some irritating, some funny, and some that leave me speechless for one reason or another.
“Do you repair shoes here?”
No, that wall of shoes behind me, and the giant sign out front advertising that we do, in fact, repair shoes, is all just there to trick you. This question always gets me, because its akin to walking into a coffee shop, and asking the barista if they serve coffee.
“Are you going to do a good job?”
Firstly, yes. Secondly, I’m very good at my job, and I take pride in my work, so to reiterate my first point…yes. This is one of the more regular questions I get. For some reason, when handing shoes over, people get paranoid that their items will come back in a worse shape than when they dropped them in. But the whole point of my job is literally to do the exact opposite; I’m a repairer, not a destroyer.
“But I only need one heel.”
This question often arises because people think it will be cheaper to only replace one of a pair. Whilst often one heel is actually more worn than the other, I have to repair them by the pair to make sure they’re an even height.
“Can’t you fit my shoes in? (I’m only here for the day)”
Sure. If you wanna call the ten people who brought in shoes ahead of you, and explain to each of them why you deserve preferential treatment, I will happily do your huge, time consuming job today. My biggest frustration with this question, is the sense of entitlement some people have. I don’t mind fitting in smaller jobs here and there, in between doing other shoes (while I wait for the glue to heat for example), but so often people come up, and as a result of their own poor time management, can’t wait around. They then get mad at me, because I genuinely don’t have time to do the work they require in the timeframes they demand.
“You’re a girl”
Yes. Yes I am. I generally get this from middle aged men, who still live in a time when women were deemed incapable of doing anything. I had a customer the other day who I assume meant to say this very thing, but fumbled his words and instead, ended up asking me if I was a girl.
“Do you actually work here?”
Yup. Hence the uniform. And…y’know, the whole standing behind the counter thing. This is a combination of asking if I repair shoes, and commenting that I’m a girl. Implied in the question is that I can’t possibly be employed as a repairer, and that I must simply be here to serve customers.
“But don’t you need a man to supervise you?”
Well, now that you mention it…no. I have nearly three years experience, and managed various stores in the city, so I’m fully qualified and perfectly capable. Further examples of people not acknowledging my skill, on the basis that I don’t have a penis.
“Did it take a lot of training?”
People are always fascinated by how one gets into a job like mine, and because of the skills involved, are equally curious about the training it took to get to where I am. With the company I work for, it was mostly on the job stuff, with an assessment at three and twelve months respectively.
“That’s very expensive. Can’t you make it cheaper?”
This, I imagine, is common of many retail stores. Most of what we do has set pricing, standard across all stores. It takes into account time required, materials, and skills involved. There are always special circumstances and exceptions, but it’s not a regular occurrence.
“But that’s not what the other girl said”
I’m sorry to tell you, but I am the other (and only) girl. And FYI there is no way I would ever say that the $80 repair job you have can be done for $15. This is another one particularly common in retail. Customers assume that a) you don’t communicate with your work mates and b) that you’ll take them on face value. In some cases, I concede that one customer may be given conflicting information by two staff members, but more often than not in my experience, it’s just a case of the customers thinking were dumb. We’re not dumb.
“Do you know where the toilets are?”
This one comes up a lot, because I work in an open kiosk, in a busy shopping centre, and I guess I’m an easy point of access for questions unrelated to my job. Though sometimes, I can’t help but have a little chuckle to myself when they ask where the supermarket is, because my shop is literally right out the front of the supermarket.
I could honestly write a book about all the strange things I hear at my job. But for now, I’ll leave you with just a blog post!