Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class — please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.
Copyright 2008. Samuel M. Post
Selling Shoes was part of the Barebones 24 Hour Play Festival at Theatre Charlotte, in February, 2008. I got the assignment (a picture of a pair of shoes) at 8pm and wrote it in Caribou Coffee on East Blvd. Finished in a couple of hours, found an all-night Kinkos, printed, and arrived home in Salisbury about 2am. It may have taken me longer to find Kinkos than anything else. It was performed the following evening.
Setting: A department store. The 70’s.
Father — the owner of a department store
Son — teenager
Customer — same age as the son, or maybe a year older. Short skirt. Pretty legs.
The Customer’s Mother
(The Father’s office in the store. Two chairs. Perhaps a desk. Father and Son, sit, having a talk.)
FATHER: Son, go get yourself a tie. We need you on the shoe floor.
SON: What about the stockroom?
FATHER: The stockroom’s in pretty good shape.
SON: The women’s shoes look a little messy.
FATHER: No — they’re, uh, not bad.
SON: Are you sure? With all the new inventory? They might need to be straightened up a little.
FATHER: No — they look good.
SON: Maybe rearrange a little?
FATHER: Not necessary.
SON: We’ve got boxes on the floor back there.
FATHER: Yes we do — and we need to sell em.
SON: What about the Thom McCan’s?
FATHER: They’re okay.
SON: I’ll bet they’re all out of place.
FATHER: Not really — you’ve done a good job back there.
SON: I probably need to re-shelve the Hush Puppies. They look awful.
FATHER: Not really.
SON: They’ll need it soon. We sell a lot of Hush Puppies.
FATHER: We do sell a lot of Hush Puppies — and we need you to help with that.
SON: I can’t sell.
FATHER: It’s time to learn.
SON: I don’t know how.
FATHER: You know our stock better than anybody.
SON: I know the boxes. Let me take care of the boxes.
FATHER: The reason for the boxes is the shoes inside. And we need those shoes out of the boxes and on people’s feet. That’s why we’re here. Son, we’re busy. We’ve got bills to pay. We need you to sell some shoes.
SON: I can’t.
FATHER: Of course you can.
SON: I don’t think so.
FATHER: You haven’t tried.
SON: I have tried. I can’t do it.
FATHER: What’s the problem? You know the sizes. You know how to measure a foot. They ask for a shoe, and you go get it. Get a shoehorn and put it on their foot.
SON: Hey — put me back in the Boy’s Department. Please, Dad.
FATHER: Anybody can sell a pair of jeans. We need you in shoes. You’re a smart boy.
SON: Dad, please don’t make me sell shoes!
(He’s about to cry)
FATHER: I’m sorry, Son. It’s Christmas. This is your family’s business.
SON: I know.
SON: Why would anybody want shoes for Christmas anyway?
FATHER: There are a lot of people who…that…they’re not as fortunate as you are and the only thing they get for Christmas is a new pair of shoes. And they’re damn happy to get it. And we’re happy they come to our store. And our job is to make sure they get a pair they like!
SON: I guess.
FATHER: Your sister sold shoes. She did fine.
(Thinking out loud.)
FATHER: Never complained. Probably the best shoe girl we’ve ever had.
SON: Why isn’t she here?
FATHER: (beginning to lose patience) Because she went to college — which we paid for by selling a lot of shoes — and she got a job.
(thinking out loud again)
FATHER: Too bad she couldn’t come home for awhile.
SON: Dad — we’re completely different. We have opposite personalities!
FATHER: Anybody can do it!
SON: That’s easy for you to say.
FATHER: Son, this is something we need right now. Shoes are an important part of this business. Your grandmother is eighty-three and she still spends her mornings selling shoes.
SON: I know.
FATHER: She can help you.
SON: I know.
FATHER: There are people who won’t let anybody else wait on them. If your grandmother’s not here, they come back another day.
SON: I know. I know.
FATHER: Once you get going, you’ll have loyal customers too — people who want only you to wait on them.
SON: Dad, I don’t like feet. Different people like different body parts. Other people’s feet are not my best thing. They smell and I don’t like to touch em.
FATHER: I’ve spent a good deal of my life touching other people’s feet. Those people’s feet put food on our table. It’s time for you to get out there. Someday, this business could be yours.
(He starts to cry)
FATHER: (reacting) What’re ya? C’mon now!
SON: I have to?
FATHER: I’m afraid so.
(Father waits a moment while Son collects himself.)
FATHER: Here’s a tip. Don’t say–
SON: (blurting, smart-ass) â€œMay I help you?â€
FATHER: If you know not to say it, then why do you say it?
SON: When did you hear me say it?
FATHER: You said it in the Boy’s Department.
SON: Everybody else says it.
FATHER: They shouldn’t. If you say â€œMay I help you,â€ they say â€œjust looking.â€ We want to wait on customers.
SON: Then what are you supposed to say?
FATHER: Say hello.
SON: Just hello.
FATHER: Yeah, say hello.
SON: Then what?
FATHER: Well…then they say hello back, and you’ve started a conversation. Talk about whatever — the weather, sports, anything…get to be friends. Then, â€œWhat size do you wear?â€
SON: (being a smart-ass) You know what size I wear.
FATHER: Say, â€œWhat size do you wear?â€ to the customer. They’ll tell you and you halfway there. Try it. Do it a few times and you might like it.
SON: No I won’t.
FATHER: Try to like it. Life’s lot easier if you anticipate liking the things you have to do.
(Again the boy begins to cry.)
FATHER: If you get in a pinch. Come get me.
(Three chairs. The Son, now wearing a necktie, nervously waits on The Customer. She extends her leg toward him and he slips a shoe on her foot. The Customer’s Mother sits beside her.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: (regarding the shoe) I love it.
CUSTOMER: I hate it.
SON: How does it feel?
(Angry with her mother about the shoe, The Customer doesn’t answer.)
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: (to her daughter) Answer the boy! How does it feel?
CUSTOMER: Who cares!
(She kicks her leg in the air, as if she’d like to sling the shoe.)
CUSTOMER: I hate it!
(After a moment, the Son takes her foot in his hands, checks the toe and the width.)
SON: I think it fits. Maybe you should walk around a little.
CUSTOMER: I hate this shoe!
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: Get up and walk!
(She walks. They watch.)
SON: Looks okay.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: I agree.
(Customer sits and extends her leg to the Son.)
CUSTOMER: I swear to God, Mother — if you make me get these shoes I’ll throw em in the trash compactor as soon as we get home.
(to The Son)
CUSTOMER: Take it off.
SON: He takes the shoe off her foot.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: (To her daughter) You’re impossible!
(to The Son)
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: Isn’t she impossible?
SON: Uh, it’s hard for me to say.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: Get her something else.
CUSTOMER: I want the Candies. Tan.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: You’re here to get dress shoes.
(To the Son)
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: Find her a dress shoe she might like.
CUSTOMER: I don’t want em.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: Bring her the pumps.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: (to The Son) What do you think?
SON: Just a minute.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: My God! You’re a total embarrassment. I’ll never take you shopping again.
(Son and Father)
FATHER: A woman needs to think her foot is special. That there’s no other foot in the world like hers.
(Son returns to Customer and Customer’s Mother. He sits and takes her foot in his hands.)
SON: You’ve got a really special foot.
CUSTOMER: You think so?
SON: I’ve never seen one like it.
(She studies her own foot.)
SON: It’s totally unique.
CUSTOMER: Thank you.
SON: No problem.
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: Where are the pumps?
SON: Just a minute.
(The Son and his Father)
FATHER: Tell the mother that her daughter is the one who has to wear it. If she doesn’t like it, she won’t wear it — and it will be a waste of money.
SON: I can’t say that.
FATHER: Sure you can.
SON: You don’t know this lady.
FATHER: Yes. I do.
SON: She’ll walk out.
FATHER: No she won’t. Say it. If she buys a pair of shoes that her daughter never wears, she won’t be happy with us either.
(Son with Customer and Customer’s Mother.)
SON: (to the mother) She’s the one who has to wear em. If she doesn’t like em, she won’t wear em — and you’ll be wasting your money.
CUSTOMER: That’s right, Mom!
(The Customer’s mother takes a deep breath, trying to dissolve her anger.)
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: Okay.
CUSTOMER: Can I try on the Candies?
(Mother looks away.)
SON: (Suddenly feeling a lot better.) Sure!
(The Son rises, going to get the Candies.)
CUSTOMER: You’re really sweet, you know that?
CUSTOMER: (to her mother) Isn’t he sweet?
THE CUSTOMER’S MOTHER: We’ll see.
End of play