"How can I help you?" I said with graciousness and aplomb.
"There's a woman on computer 10... who has her shoes off."
I ran upstairs.
"Ma'am?" I approached the lady on computer 10, out of breath. "Ma'am! Excuse me... uh..." Her heel was halfway out, tantalizingly out, her toes just gently grazing the arch of her shoe.
"You need to put your shoes on."
Mr. Jackson wasn't through. He went to the children's section and reported that some of the children had their shoes off. I had to go over and tell babies to put their slippies on.
"Do it," I said. "Goddamnit, NOW!!"
A few weeks ago, one of our misguided shelvers had approached Mr. Jackson and told him to put his shoes on. He complained that he had diabetes and needed to have the shoes off. We explained to him that it was the policy, etc. Like a modern-day Swift, he decided to report to us whenever he caught someone else with their shoes off. He would circle the computers, or occasionally detour through the children's area. His satire of our rule enforcement was DEVASTATING.
Carol called me into the office.
"Now he's complained to security that we're not enforcing the rules. What am I going to do? I can't go around looking at everyone's feet all day!"
"Maybe we can get the city to foot the bill for a new security guard. How about Jeff? He'd be a shoo-in for the job."
"No, I.... Shh. Wait."
Carol cocked her head. She left the office. A few moments later, she came back.
"Jorel is on the phone. Do you know what she's doing? Shopping! She's buying a huge rack to put on her wall at home! And this is the person who doesn't have electricity in her house!"
"Maybe she should buy a butter churn instead."
Jorel had declined to pay her electric bill for many months. Now, in an unexpected twist, the power company turned off her electricity. So now Jorel sits in a dark house every night. It's like 1900 House, but without all the sexual tension.
"I just can't believe she does this when she..."
"Boss?" Dan poked in his head. "There's a complaint from someone. Wants to talk to the manager."
Carol came out to find that it was now one of the employees without their shoes on. Jorel.
"I would call that irony," I said, "except I don't know what irony is..."
"It's like not wearing shoes on a raaaainy day...!"