This weekend my oldest daughter attended her prom. The only night we could go shoe shopping was Friday night, the day before, which left us little room for error. We decided to head to the mall because we needed to pick up a few other knicknacks and paddywacks for her big night out, and one stop shopping was my goal.

I was already in a bad mood, I have to admit. A pissy client managed to upset my mental apple cart right before we were heading out the door, and I had to do some quick graphic design fix-its before we could leave. After working all day I wanted nothing more than the couch, a real housewives rerun and large quantities of wine, but instead I was driving 30 minutes to the mall.

Our first stop was at Payless (which I have dubbed “wayless” over the past few years because I rarely find anything) mostly because I knew finding a shoe was going to be the most time-consuming portion of our evening. Upon entering the store we were of course waylaid by the Payless employee dujour who is required by shoe store law to inform us of the various specials they have, which are usually the same specials they have had for the past 3 years, which is buy one get one half. Duh.

The aisle that held the size shoes we were in need of was packed. And narrow. Thankfully my younger girl went off to find shoes for herself in another aisle – that was one less sardine in the can for now. We started with your basic black pump, which was really what her dress required. But my girl did not like the way they felt. They were too big, or too snug in the toe, or too high in the heel. We moved from a size 9, which is what she usually buys in a sneaker or flat, to a size 7 1/2. We tried on no less than 22 pairs of shoes and sandals, and all the while I am slowly going mad from the sounds inside the store.

First of all, there is a child screaming. One aisle over is a gang of baby mammas looking for the perfect size 10 shoe. They have a baby in a stroller who was not happy to be stuck in the size 10 shoe aisle on a Friday night. Now, I know all about screaming babies. My youngest daughter did not stop crying from birth to 2.35 years, and I know what needs to be done. YOU NEED TO GET THE HELL OUT OF THE STORE.

There are few excuses for leaving a screaming child where others have to endure it, and I can tell you that picking out a size 10 fuck me pump is not one of them. While I am not the type to approach these gals and ask if they could remove the tearful tot (screaming brat) from the store, I did manage to mumble “shut that kid up” a few times hoping they would take the hint.

They didn’t. Add to the noise of the bawling bambino the sounds of constant sniffling and sneezing – it’s allergy season at Payless! I hate the sound of sneezing with a passion – it’s one of my little oddities I’ve developed over the past 10 years. See, I had to sit next to a dude at work that would sneeze no less than 12 times a day, ever day. A very LOUD sneeze that would rattle the windows. For 10 years. It’s left me scarred.

So the cacophony of baby screams, sneezes, sniffling and wheezing began to get to me. And then the Payless manager comes back to remind me of the specials she had just made me aware of a mere 20 minutes before. I know that the BOGO concept is a tough one, but I think I’ve got it. Thanks

When daughter finally finds a pair of shoes I go to pay for them, and there is a line. Great. It’s only 3 people, but that’s when Payless manager decides it’s a dandy time to take  her break and walks away from the register leaving only Payless employee to ring up all the customers. This particular Payless customer is trying very hard to win the Payless sales prize for the month because she tried to up-sale every customer into purchasing extra crap they really didn’t need.

And I’m waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Then she sees some friends out in the mall corridor. “Hey girl! Wha’choo doin’?” Payless gal screams from behind the counter.

And I’m waiting.

Then she spends 4 minutes convincing the customer that they need to buy this shoe deodorizer. It’s only 79 cent.

Grrrr. “it’s cents you fucking moron” I think to myself and still wait.

From the mall corridor “Hey girl! How long u been working there?” Payless gal shouts back “u know since I birffed my baby boy!”

And I’m waiting.

By the time I get up there I must be wearing a face like Hannibal Lecter…while she has to ask for my phone number twice (fava beans and chianti) she does not try to sell me polish or socks or deodorizer. I think she knew better.

After that it was off to buy hair accessories at Claire’s. Yes, that’s right. Claire’s. A mom’s worst nightmare. Thank God there were chairs outside the store cause this mom needs a time out from crowded aisles.

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