I enjoy retail. No, really, I do. I'm good at selling stuff I like, like Kobos and Blackberry Playbooks and books. I'm good at keeping a positive attitude for 7.5 hours plus a half hour unpaid lunch. I'm not so good at dealing with kids having a meltdown when it's time to leave Thomas, but that rarely happens (she says with a smile...).
The problem with retail is the deadly trifecta of thin burgundy carpet over concrete, constant walking, and "Dress Code" shoes. Yes, the bane of my retail work life is the All Black, Closed Toe, Closed Heel Shoe. There are many other dress code annoyances, but shoes affect your quality of life moreso than the colour of your collared shirt (seriously, teal is fine, but Indigo isn't?)
Thankfully, my current workplace Dress Code allows running shoes... (it specifically says "(including running shoes)")
Enter the Vibram FiveFinger Shoe:
These All Black, Closed Toe, Closed Heel Running Shoes are just the ticket for tired feet, sore knees and aching backs. They were originally designed for watersports, but some geniuses discovered that they were also amazing for running, and that's when these funky toe-shoes really took off. I've had my FiveFinger Classics from MEC for a few years now, but aside from being a bit mussed up from constant use, they're not All Black, so I upgraded to the Keep Stuff Out version which was the only All Black women's FiveFinger available at my local Trailhead (I think the Performa Janes are AMAZING, but I can't find them locally *hint hint*).
So, I've had my KSOs for over a year now, and love them to pieces. No, really, they're falling apart. I was rather unfortunate to purchase a pair with faulty seaming (Vibram has since corrected the issue), but a little needle and thread fixes them right up. The downside to FiveFinger shoes in the workplace is the funk that starts to develop after you've worn them sans socks for 6-8 hours. Tossing them in the washing machine with your jeans is fine for the average runner, but not so much for the average sales associate. Mine are currently soaking in a mini hot tub of oxyclean for a few hours. If that doesn't work, I'll try my pet odour and stain remover on them... I simply can't afford $18 for a pair of injinji socks :(
The other problem that develops is what I like to call "Managerial Inflammation". You see, FiveFingers are... unusual. Those toe pockets might be amazing for muscle tone, skeletal formation, balance, and posture, but they can wreak havoc on your Boss' nerves.
Now, some bosses are cool. They look at the Dress Code, and realize that your All Black, Closed Toe, Closed Heel Vibram FiveFinger Running Shoes follow said code to the letter. Some may even dash out to the nearest MEC/Trailhead/LocalAwesomeAthleticStore and buy a pair for themselves.
Other bosses, not so much... something about the "spirit" of the dress code not allowing for shoes outside accepted societal norms.... *sigh*
I say happy, healthy employees trump societal norms.
Besides, when wearing my All Black Dress Pants, I've had a grand total of 8 customers notice my "cool toe-shoes" (for some reason, that number increases substantially when wearing Khakis >.> ), but that just gives me a great opportunity to plug "Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, And The Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall.