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You Need a Number

A couple of years ago, I learned that you need a telephone number to buy sneakers and an address to buy furniture.

After selling my old house and before moving into this new one, my family and I lived with my sister-in-law and her family for a few weeks. On the first evening of my stay at sis-in-law’s home, the sole blew off my sneaker. The rubber pealed off the bottom and I started walking around in a flap, step, flap, step, flap, step style. I needed new sneaks.

Some miles down the road there is a FeetFirst shoe store. My daughter came with me as I picked up my standard Nike fair, a pair of cross-trainers, and brought them to the register. "Phone number," the girl at the counter asked.

"Excuse me," I asked.

"Can I have your phone number?" She repeated.

"Umm. I don’t have a phone."

She looked at me. I was dressed in my work duds—slicked out in a nice silk tie, white shirt and crisp slacks. And then she glanced at my daughter, well-dressed and clean. The sales-girl’s face wrinkled in confusion. I’m sure she was thinking, "They look like they should have a phone. How could they not have a phone?"

"Listen," I broke the silence. "I just sold my home and am living with in-laws …"

"That’s okay," she interrupted. "Just give me their phone number."

"I don’t know it," I said. This was followed by another pause and more strange looks from the girl. "I just want to buy a pair of sneakers."

"But I need a phone number."

I picked up a business card on the counter and read the number, “609-242-2667.”

“Hey, that’s our number,” the girl said.

“It’s the only number I know.”

She sold me the sneakers.

After moving out of my sister-in-laws place and before moving into the new house, I lived a year-and-a-half in an apartment. Knowing I’d be in an apartment for a while, I put our 15-year-old, over-worn dining room table into long-term storage. My plan was to buy a new, smaller dining room table for the apartment.

I went to Value City Furniture to take a look at a table my wife had seen in the Sunday paper. "If you like it order it," she said.

I liked it and wrangled a salesman into checking stock and availability. "It’s in stock and we can get it delivered to you, and this is great, in about ten days."

"Ten days is no good. I need it now. You see, I’m moving into a new apartment today and have no table. I need a table. Do you have one in the back that I can just bring home now?"

After some conversation, I found out that the warehouse is about an hour north of the store and that I could go there to pick it up. I placed the order giving the salesman all the requisite information until he got to, "Address?"

"I don’t know."

"You don’t know your address?"

"Nope. I don’t. I know where the apartment is, but I don’t know the address."

"We won’t mail you anything," he said.

"That’s not the issue. The issue is that I really don’t know my address."

"Well, I need something for this form."

"Why? I’m going to pick up the stuff myself. You’re not delivering it. It shouldn’t be a big deal." He paused in the same way that the girl trying to figure out a way to sell me sneakers without a phone number paused. "Can I make something up," I asked.

"I guess." He looked around to make sure the manager wasn’t watching. “Go ahead.”

“161st Street and River Avenue, Bronx, NY.” Yankee Stadium.

Postscript
Shortly after buying the sneakers, I thought they were just just so-so. I like to break in sneakers the way I like to break in a baseball mitt. It takes a year or two to get the things just right. Besides, at the time I had my eye on a different pair.

I picked up the table with no problems. I even went back and bought a matching pub table. The guy who sold me my table was let go. I hope it wasn’t because George Steinbrenner complained about the ValueCity junkmail.

Post-postscript
I just bought a new pair of sneakers to replace the ones bought above last week. The old ones still worked fine and they’re finally broken in. I just wanted a new pair.

We moved into the house a little over six months ago. We decided to keep the small table. It’s very nice and fits the house just perfectly.

Like you care.

Comments

ruminator said:

Like you care... I do.

Posted on Oct 18, 2005 09:55 AM

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