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The Secret Language of Shoes

I've always been able to sell myself for top dollar. I interview well, I speak intelligently and though I'm not of a higher education, I can write a top notch story with the best of them (pardon me for tooting my own horn a moment). I can also be incredibly convincing at almost anything I set my mind to talking someone into believing. In that regard, I'm an amazing salesperson.

When I was hired at Circuit City to be in charge of Loss Prevention at the Torrance location, I wanted to "sell" myself into the role I would be playing. The majority of employees were certainly male, being an electronics store, and in most places, girls were NOT a Loss Prevention asset. It was unusual, and that alone raised a few eyebrows. When I walked into the room, my petite frame and delicate features were instantly a topic of conversation.

I could feel the eyes staring me in the back of the head. I knew some of these guys would be trying to get away with random things just to test me. It didn't take long. I caught a few employees trying to take sodas out to their cars without paying for them. Tisk tisk...

That night, my very first night we closed with me on duty, we sat around up front waiting for the managers to finish the cash drop in the back of the store. Random conversations among the guys eventually ended up with asking questions about the new person, meaning me. I walked into this one fully prepared.

"How did you get into Loss Prevention," one of them asked, skeptically.

"Well," I paused in the mysterious manner I have naturally about me, "I read people. It's what I do. I've always done it."

Eyebrows raised, people leaned in, and I had the full attention of everyone within earshot.

"And exactly how do you do that?"

"It's easy. Everything about you tells something you wouldn't guess, from your hair cut to your shoes."

"Shoes? Seriously? Like as in Forrest Gump?"

"Well, not exactly like Forrest Gump, since I'm actually a real person, but in a lot of ways, yes."

"So tell me something about me," the first one said. I went a step further.

"Ok," I nodded. "Anyone interested, stand up against the counter there where I can see your shoes. I'll tell you each something about yourselves based on ONLY your shoes that not everyone here would know. Since I've only just met each of you today, you'll know it's legit and I'm not just getting fed the information from one person about one person. Ready?"

Every single young man in attendance at that moment went and stood in front of the counter. And I began.

"Ok," I said, pausing for another mysterious, dramatic moment. I was eating this up with a spoon and wasn't nervous even for a half a second.

"I'll start on this end," I said pointing to the nearest Circuit City employee. "Your room is a disaster and your parents hate it." I moved to the next, leaving this young man slack jawed. "Your room is spotless, but you should clean out your closet. It's a pig sty." Again, another jaw fell open and I moved on. "You should treat your mother better, you should either break up with your girlfriend or return her calls already since it's been a week now. You have a hidden talent that you don't want people to know about - either your a poet or a musician and don't play rock. You were in a lot of trouble as a kid. You have control issues. You hate the Police and any authority figure. You were born in the South, though you don't have an accent and nobody knows. You want to be a pilot. And you - " I paused again having reached the last guy at the counter, "you play soccer and pretend when you're at work that all you do is play video games."

There wasn't a closed mouth at the counter. Instantly they all began asking how I knew so much about each of them. I smiled. There was NO WAY I was going to give away my secrets! But in every single case I was 100% correct. They started clambering, begging me to tell them more. I could have analyzed each of them until I was blue in the face and they still would have wanted more.

Shall I share my secrets with you today?

The first person with the disastrous room - his shirt was wrinkled and his pants had creases indicating that they had been cleaned but not folded and put away. This is usually a sign, especially in the teen years, of someone who keeps an untidy room and piles laundry up on the bed, not wanting to put it away. As for the parents - what parents DON'T hate a messy room? The fact that his clothes were clean in the first place means SOMEONE in the house is clean.

The next kid had a clean room but a messy closet. I surmised this merely because his clothes were clean and pressed, but his socks didn't match and his shoes had cobwebs hanging from the laces. This was a shot in the dark and I lucked out. The cob webs could have come from the shoes being shoved under the bed.

The young man who should treat his mother better - I had noticed throughout the day that this young man had little to no respect for female authority. Another shot in the dark that lucked out. Apparently he had a fight with his mother before coming in to work that day.

The kid with girl trouble - As I was analyzing the others, his phone went off no less than 4 times. Each time he would hit the red "ignore" button. At a single glance I could tell it didn't say Mom or Dad or Tom, Dick or Harry, so I could only assume it was his girlfriend. If he was more interested in having his shoes analyzed than talking to her, I assumed they were having issues. Again, I was right.

The guy with the hidden talent ended up being a classically trained pianist who played beautifully by ear and never would tell anyone because he felt it was an embarrassment he couldn't read music. How did I know?? He walked to the beat of the store music without realizing it. He would occasionally tap his fingers on the counter while waiting on a customer as though they were the ivories of a piano. He always had a tune in his head. I threw in the bit about poetry just so it didn't give me away completely. It worked - he was astounded.

The kid that was a lot of trouble in his youth had several very ugly, very poorly done tattoos on his arms and neck - something that would be done by neighborhood gang bangers or crack addict. He tried to hide them with sleeves and bandaids at times, indicating that he was embarrassed by them. I imagine he had been a lot of work to raise.

The control issues - this one actually went directly to the shoes. There was a very tightly wound double knot on the laces, indicating (in my own mind) that he liked to keep a tight grip on things around him. He didn't like other people being in control of him, but he wasn't a control freak himself on most things - just on himself.

The authority hater - Have you ever seen sneakers that have perfectly smoothed laces across the tops all running in parallel lines, not crossing the way most shoe laces do? When the shoes go onto the person, the ends of the laces are tucked inside the shoe, not even tied, just shoved and hidden. This is a person who wants to break free of the 'normal' thing that would be done and go in their own direction. It's also how the Gang Bangers in Los Angeles wear their expensive, stolen shoes most of the time.

Born in the South - I'm sorry, but I don't care how long a person has been out of the South, they will always have a hint of that accent. I know, because I still have a hint of mine. Like others I know, I've worked hard to cover it up, but because I have gotten so good at that, it's very rare that anyone is able to hide it from me. I know what to look for because I know what I do to cover my own.

The pilot - he had Aviator sunglasses and a bomber jacket with him. That was a simple guess... Turned out that the following year the kid joined the Air Force and became a pilot.

The soccer player that hides behind video games - This one was the easiest. He was wearing soccer shoes, but he worked in an electronics store, staying mainly in the video game section.

So, I've shared a FEW of my secrets. I have many more for reading people - but I'm still quite good at it. After all, it's what I do for a living these days.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a neat story. I'm glad you shared this one...


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