I am a tiny human being. I stand at just under five feet and, while I can park my butt at an office desk along with the best of them, when I worked in retail, reaching the top shelf was a tall order.
The year after I started university, I spent my summer working at a discount shoe store in my hometown. When I wasn’t ringing through high-heeled purchases or trying to figure out how to deal with some of our customers’ incredibly obscure payment methods (Who pays for $15 shoes by cheque? Seriously?), it was my job to keep the shelves well stocked.
Since the store had more footwear than our floor plan could handle, we opted to organize things New York City-style and build upwards. As a result, the top of every shelf was piled with different coloured shoe boxes, stacked carefully to the ceiling like a well-played game of Tetris.
A few weeks in to my job, it came time to restock the shelves, and the game changed from Tetris to Jenga.
Of course, a massive corporate chain shoe store wouldn’t send their tiniest employee into storage wars without some kind of battle equipment. I was outfitted with the most advanced technology available for the job – a long stick with a flat end on it to slide under the mountains of boxes, lifting and lowering them to safety.
I grasped the end of the pole firmly, focused my aim and strategically shuffled the tray under the tower of boxes, a good four feet above my head.
Maybe if I had perfected my plate spinning act, things would’ve gone smoother but as soon as I lifted my cargo away from the shelf, my high-tech-box-elevator started to sway. It wasn’t a little back and forth like when you hear a good song on the radio – we’re talking a full out pendulum of impeding catastrophe swaying above my terrified face.
I tried to steady myself, but it was too late. The boxes came raining down, bringing their neighbours along for the ride.
The crash sent my manager (and a few of our customers) running, only to find me surrounded by cardboard lids, tissue paper and sneakers of all shapes and sizes, still holding the stick upright.
I may have been wearing cute ballet flats, but that day, no one wanted to be in my shoes.