She slid the shoebox across the counter.
“I’d like to return these.”
He looked at the box: Doc Martens. He looked at her: White. Upper middle-aged. Definitely a mom, maybe a retiree. Still rocking the perm she probably first got in the early ’90s.
He opened the box and absent-mindedly pulled away the tissue paper to make sure the boots were still in there and were in decent condition while asking, “Anything wrong with them?”
The answer he expected was “They were a gift for my [SON/DAUGHTER/NIECE/NEPHEW], but [HE/SHE] [ALREADY HAS A PAIR/DECIDED THEY WEREN’T HIS(HER) STYLE/SAID THEY DON’T FIT].”
The answer he got was, “Well, I needed a pair of winter boots, and I decided I wanted to go with something…different. But I don’t know. These just aren’t me, maybe. I guess I’m more of an Easy Spirit kinda gal!” She chuckled nervously.
“OK—no harm, no foul. Easy Spirits are cool. I mean, Joe Strummer wore Easy Spirits, right?” he said, not bothering to hide the hint of condescension in his voice. “Do you have the receipt?”
“Yes,” she said and started to fumble through her purse.
“OK, so if you paid for these with cash, we can do cash back; if you used a card, I’ll swipe your card and credit the—”
“Here it is,” she said, and pulled her receipt-less hand out of her purse, clenched it into a fist, and put it in his face with middle finger extended.
“That’s for making fun of Easy Spirits, and for thinking I don’t know who Joe Strummer is! I’m keeping the shoes,” she said while taking the box back, then added, “and I’m going to come by here every morning for the next six months, wearing these boots, and every day I’m going to kick the front glass of your store with ’em, just to get your attention so I can give you one of THESE!” She put her middle finger in his face again.
And she kept her word. She walked by every day, kicking and shaking the store’s front glass and giving him the bird.
He kind of loved it. I mean, really, the job was usually so boring. He nicknamed her Perm Kicks-A-Lot, and her visits were always the highlight of his day.