I am sure many of you are tired of reading posts about shopping for shoes, but yesterday I had yet another shoe shopping adventure, and experienced another perfect micro chasm of French culture. Once again, the customer is never right, and is often delusional, so it seems. Yesterday my friend Marilyne and I decided to catch the end of the sales in hopes of finding some boots. (Note: As I am blissfully happy with my long sought and much fought for brown boots, I was merely going to look, not buy. It almost worked). Paris is once again frosted in snow, spring has vanished and winter returned for another round. Thus, it looks like boot season is not over. We first went to a chain store and Marilyne found a gorgeous pair of healed boots, yet as we were walking up Rue Mouffetard, we made that fateful decision to stop in another store after already being content with our earlier purchase. The experience was as follows:
Over Zealous Clerk: Bonjour, the sales ended yesterday but we are extending them, exceptionnellement (what the French say to make you feel that you are the one exception to something – usually you are not, but they like you to feel privileged that you are allowed to have whatever you are about to buy).
Marilyne: Oh, we are just looking, I just bought boots.
Over Zealous Clerk: Madame, why not just try some?
Suddenly Marilyne and I have our feet in boots that we had no intention of buying. At least I felt better that Marilyne, a Paris native, is still pressured by the Parisian Over Zealous Clerks.
Hannah: I actually wanted to try on those boots (pointing to others).
Over Zealous Clerk 2: Yes, but these are the same brand, we are just verifying your size.
Hannah: Ok, it works, may I try the others?
Over Zealous Clerk 2: Why don’t you like these?
Hannah: Well, I just don’t really like the color.
Over Zealous Clerk 2: Oh Madame – the color will change!
Meanwhile . . .
Marilyne (now trying on flats): I think these might be too small.
Over Zealous Clerk: Madame – they will expand and fit perfectly!
I made it out of the store with just a pair of flats, not a pair of magical expanding color changing boots. Marilyne however was retained and talked into a second pair of boots. They are wonderful, and a style altogether different than her first pair, but I think the ultimate selling point was the fact that the Over Zealous Clerk kept on dropping the price, whispering it furtively at her, lest the other Overly Zealous Clerk hear and offer a similar price drop to another customer. Of course, her bargain was exceptionnellement.