I got my new shoes on...

>> Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Boys have needed new shoes for some time now. I have to admit, I've been putting it off. I picked up a couple of pairs of canvas sneakers for them when I was back in London a few weeks ago, and they've been wearing those inside and their still-fine snow boots outside. However, as Husband rightly pointed out, we really needed to get them both new indoor shoes and trainers, so last Saturday that is what we set off to do.

It shouldn't be difficult really, should it? They have children in Moscow who have feet and wear shoes too, don't they?

But I knew that it would be. Which is probably why I had been putting it off until a day when Husband was foolish enough to be available to accompany me to translate as necessary.

Why? Well, the service culture in Moscow has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 16 years since I started to visit here, but some aspects of it still leave a little something to be desired...

Last Saturday then, we set off for one of our local shopping malls where we knew there were kids' shoe shops aplenty. I drove, and the Boys and Husband went by tram, and as any Moscow residents will not be surprised to learn, they got there first. Husband decided at this point to take matters into his own hands re; the shoes ('What's that stupid woman making such a fuss about? I shall buy both my sons shoes before she even gets here, and demonstrate to her how easy it is!') and he and the Boys went on up to the largest kids clothing store.

They stood around in the well-stocked shoe section being ignored for a few minutes, until Husband took matters into his own hands and asked an assistant for help. This is the conversation that ensued.

Husband: "Can you help me, please?"

Store lady (sigh): "Yes. What do you want..."

Husband: "We would like to buy some shoes."

Store lady looked blankly at my husband, and then with an all encompassing gesture swept her arms around her and said: "Shooooeees."

Husband (somewhat taken aback): "Yes, I can see they're shoes, but I'm not quite sure what size my sons take, can you help us with that please?"

Store lady (sigh): "OK." She looked at my sons' feet, and started pulling out boxes.

Husband: "Hang on. Can you measure their feet first, please?"

Boy #2 sat down and began to pull his snowboots off. Store lady picked up the first boot from the floor and checked underneath for the size.

Husband: "No, I don't want you to check these boots. I want to know what size his feet are now. Can you measure them, please?"

Store lady picked up Boy #2's foot and looked at it. "I would say..."

Husband: "No, I would like you to measure them. Can you do that please?"

Store lady sighed. "No, we don't do that. Just try a few pairs on until you get some the right size."

At this stage Husband turned and swept grandly out of the store, two Boys (asking loudly when they were going to get new trainers) in tow..

At this stage I was still stuck in traffic, so he moved next door, where they also sold children's shoes. And then, after repeating the whole sorry process, left that one too. By the time I finally got there, he was on store number 3. And this time when the assistant - on being asked to measure the Boys' feet - pulled out a dressmaker's tape measure, Husband kept quiet and counted himself lucky...


I'm So Fancy 9 April 2011 at 12:03  

hilarious. It was good of you to let him have that experience. I truly hope you took your sweet time and enjoyed your drive.

Expat mum 9 April 2011 at 17:42  

It used to drive me mad that no one over here really measures kids' feet. I was used to the people in Clarke's giving you a width that could be any letter of the alphabet. Here, if you go to a really good (ie. expensive) shoe shop, they'll stand the child on the foot measurey thing but they don't do widths, and they never talk about "room to grow" or anything like that.
However, I remember reading a report done in the UK a few years ago concluding that you were just as likely to get a good fit if you went into a BHS or equivalent and fitted the shoe yourself.
I've calmed down a bit now.

The Expatresse 9 April 2011 at 20:41  

I had decent service in the old Detsky Mir (by Lubyanka) before it closed for remonting. They all looked fierce and nasty, but were really, really helpful. Even suggesting things they had in the "the back." And I do not speak Russian.

nappy valley girl 9 April 2011 at 20:58  

Lots of sympathy. Buying children's shoes is stressful enough without the added trouble of a different language and unhelpful sales staff! I have been putting it off like you, but I think it's finally time the snowboots went down to the cellar...

Anonymous,  15 April 2011 at 17:57  

We have had a similar experience in Moscow but we weren't given the luxury of a tape measure, they brought out a desk ruler!!

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