To Customer Service Professionals
The likelihood of the subject of this week's tribute ever reading this is extremely remote. That's not important, rather the reason for the tribute is worth some time in cyberspace.
While shopping last Saturday at the New Balance store in Branson Landing we met Montana Canterbury, the floor manager. Montana is a young man from Colorado going to school at College of the Ozarks. He is not majoring in "feet" at school, but takes his job so seriously that we both walked out in new shoes, and for very good reasons.
I can hear my friends saying now "Girl, you don't need a reason to buy a new pair of shoes, good or otherwise!" That is somewhat, if not entirely, true. My shoe rack looks like the stockrooms of Penneys and Bass combined. I have boots and booties, slides and slip-ons, mules and pumps, sandals and sneakers. The question is, can I walk in them all day without pain? Nope, but I just attributed that to bad feet, injuries, and (ahem) vanity.
So back to Montana, from Colorado, going to school in Missouri, working at New Balance. A friendly young man, I found him and Jerry engaged in lively banter after I made a side trip to Lane Bryant next door. Jerry already had on a snappy new pair of sneakers and was telling Montana that he would take them and to put the old ones in the box. Ok, good. Jerry's hoofers are very hard to fit so when he can get a good pair of shoes it is time for celebration. From out of no where I hear my own voice: "Honey, do you mind if I take a glance at the women's walking shoes? Do you remember which ones I was looking at before we left Phoenix?" Uh-oh! Here comes the rationale: "All my sneakers are flat soled, only good for walking on pavement and shopping malls. We've had a lot of rain lately, not to mention the ice they expect this weekend. I think I would be so much safer walking up and down our hills in more of a hiking sneaker." Never mind that I have hiking boots, but save those for muddy paths --- which I have diligently done, saved them.
Here comes Montana to save the day. "Let me measure your foot, Ma'am."
"Oh, that's ok, I know my size."
He smiles, "Let's take a look."
Thoughts go racing through my mind: "Did I wear thick socks? God, I hope there's no holes in the toes. When did I last cut my toenails?" I never realized that a foot ruler could become so scary. Well, the length was still OK.
"Ma'am," he smiles up at me. "It looks like you have been wearing shoes that are too narrow for your toes."
OMG! He's talking about --- gulp! --- WIDE! AARGH! "Really?" I reply in shock. "I have a storehouse at home that would beg, I'm telling you BEG, to differ."
There's that smile again. "Do you get pains here?" as he presses between the piggy that went to market and the piggy that stayed home. "What about here in the ball of your foot?"
"Well, yes, but I broke that toe once and I was told I have a bone spur there."
"What about soreness or cramping in your feet when you go to bed after a day of walking?"
Now he hit a real nerve! "Let me tell you......"
So, we decide on one pair of the two I picked out. "I'll bring out a few in combinations of length and widths and see if we can get just the right fit."
"Jerry," I lean over to my husband. "I'm going to be wearing gunboats on my feet!"
"Honey, he knows his stuff. Look what he was able to find for me!" I gaze at is 12 1/2 EEEE aircraft carriers. Ugh.
"Here we go." Montana carefully and completely unlaces the new shoes and opens them wide enough to drive in a pontoon boat. Then neatly and snugly ties them back up.
"Oooo! I love the feel of new shoes!" I croon. They really did feel better than anything I'd worn. I walked around, we chatted about the upcoming NFL games, politics. "Yes, these will definitely work."
"Well, for comparison, let's try these that are a little bit shorter --- more the width you said you wear." He smiles again.
Uh? What size did I just have on? Ok, through the process again. Yew, these just don't feel the same. "Ok, one more pair," he says, "to validate the length." Huh?
Pair #3, nope, too short. "Well, I guess the first pair was actually the best. I'll take them and leave them on while we shop." We continue talking some more about current events. Montana then proceeds to tell us about the New Balance guarantees, etc.
We had no doubt about the quality of the products and now, thanks to a very knowledgeable service professional, knew more about the organization and had very comfortable shoes. He provided friendly customer service, took plenty of time with us, was congenial and appeared to have very good working knowledge of his customer base -- so to speak.
As he was putting the shoe boxes into the bags, he looked at me and said "Don't be too alarmed when you see the size on the end of the box." Oh, yeah, what size are these? "I put you in a 8D for these shoes." WHAT?! My 7 1/2 Mediums fainted! "But, Ma'am, we have found that New Balance sizes run a bit small." Smile.
Moral of this story: with age comes the desire for comfort over the number on the shoe box. But if they ever start putting the size directly on the outside of the shoe ---- I'm moving to the beach and going barefoot!