The other day I stopped at the pet store on my way to work to pick up a few things for Daisy and Rose.
Daisy and Rose are our new guinea pigs. They are adorable. Daisy is inquisitive and comical. Rose is shy but feisty. I’ve never had guinea pigs before. They are interesting little critters. You’ll no doubt hear more about them at a later time.
Back to the point: I arrived at the store about 10 minutes before it opened, so I waited in my car for a bit. There’s a man standing outside the store. I’d guess he’s mid to late thirties. He is unremarkable, just a guy waiting for the pet store to open.
At 9am, I get out of my car and approach the door. It’s still not open. In a completely uncharacteristic move, I decide to speak to the man.
“Hmmmm, My watch says 9am. Guess they aren’t feeling punctual this morning.” I say.
The man smiles, “I guess not. My watch says 9, too.”
An employee appears and opens the door. I walk in and head to the rodent section. A moment later, the man by the door appears next to me. I think briefly that it is a nifty coincidence that we are both looking for rodent supplies, but beyond that I pay no attention.
‘Excuse me,” he says, “can I ask where you got those shoes?”
I look at my shoes, thinking that I only own one cute pair and I don’t remember putting them on today. I am correct. I am wearing a pair of incredibly plain brown flats which are showing signs of wear at the toe.
“Easy Spirit.” I say, a little puzzled that he is asking about my shoddy shoes.
“Oh,” he says. “My friend is coming back from Iraq for a few weeks and I wanted to get her a pair of shoes. Those are nice. Very casual. I’m not from around here. Where is that?”
“Oh, it’s at Colonie Center.”
“Oh, okay,” he answers. “What kind of insole do they have?”
I cock my head to the side a bit like a dog that just heard a strange sound. “Ummmm… I don’t know, just regular insoles.” I slip my foot out of the shoe to show him.
He muttered something about what type of insole it is, thanks me and disappears.
Only after he disappears, does it truly hit me how exceptionally odd that whole exchange was. It is only then that I realize that I just took my shoe off in a pet store to show a stranger the insole. It is only then do I realize that he probably has some sort of foot fetish and I’m a dolt for not being more astute.
I think about this for a few moments and try to decide how I feel about it. Am I offended? Do I feel violated? I conclude that it doesn’t really bother me, but that it probably should. He was pleasant enough. He isn’t stalking me. Ultimately, no big deal. I hope I somehow improved his day.
I recall now that these little conversations are the reason that I rarely engage or even make eye contact with strangers. It seems like when I do, it takes a turn for the bizarre. On the other hand, it probably tends to go that way because I seem to attract odd people. Birds of a feather, I suppose….