Posted by: januzzi | March 5, 2009

Those Darn Writing Shoes by Annette Januzzi Wick

Those Darn Writing Shoes

Author, Teacher, Writer and Mother Annette Wick blogs on life in the blender – a mixing of families, thoughts and words. Learn more at I’ll Be in the Car or Women Writing for (a) Change. “I never knew what I thought, until I started writing…”
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

After my recent stints of sales person at Kenwood for my sister’s business – Golf-Chic Boutique – I was reminded of how hard retailers work for such little reward. I want to be mindful of that fact this season when sales are down and so are spirits. This is my ode to such.

Selling Ourselves

Father and Uncle would be frantic,
look busy, they would crow
to all the employees
who had toiled in the shadows
of 26th and Broadway
beneath the banner of Januzzi’s Shoes.

Together they paced the aisles
before Father would return
to the back office space
and pore over “the books”.

We would be dispersed to our stations.
Brother to the store room to unpack
the cardboard cartons delivered by the man in brown.
It would have been like Christmas, if Brother had been me,
caressing each style before pricing and stocking
it on the shelves.

Sister would slowly wind her way
behind the counter
and stand stoic beside the rigid
cash register queen, who scolded her
when wrinkled ones and fives were turned opposite
of the crisp tens and twenties.

And Grandpa, founder, mender
would retire to the repair stand in the corner
where we would sneak off to sniff
the musk of newly shaped leather
and the glue that cobbled lives together.

Customer names were recorded on cards
kept in a cabinet in the men’s department.
Filing the recently pulled or
pulling the filed always fell to me.

I would make it a game,
see how fast I could order the stack
Sometimes I would sneak a peak
at the cards of boys whom I was
madly in love with.
I would feel betrayed
by their wearing of new loafers
knowing that brand had been bought elsewhere.

Retail was never easy
even before big box stores
swallowed up ideas and families.
Tension lingered in the air
on the days of sales
causing aisles of shoes to quake –
the children’s section leaning into the men’s boots
the rows of nursing whites holding back the women’s heels,
and ice skates teetering on the top shelves
placed by the night elves, above my head.

To keep from descending into the chaos of the “floor”
Father would stop entering bills
in the green bound books that recorded our prosperity
We would pace,waiting for lunchtime,
then pile into the Suburban
and drive to the home of the
five-sided burger and vanilla shakes.

The business had been blessed
by the presence of the steel mill, the hospital,
children, and those who needed orthopedic shoes.
As if the family store was a ministry itself –
serving and fitting –
and that purpose fed them,
not the money rung up for each purchase
and carefully counted at day’s end.

Customers were never happy with
the price, the style, the fit.
Widows squirmed in green vinyl chairs
squeezing bones into shoes on sale,
waiting for us to admire their toes
in the slanted shoe mirror.
We could never lie to them, we could
never tell the truth.

We only knew that the odor of unwashed feet
would cause us

to seek out Grandpa’s shoe glue

or steal away to the store room,
relieved momentarily
of the duty and pride of having to sell
the shoes, the business, our selves.
Posted by Annette Januzzi Wick



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