A friend is visiting and has asked me to go shopping. He has presents to bring back for his wife and children. I oblige and we're soon find ourselves in shoe stores looking for Nike Impax.
In the first store, the salesperson tells us that these shoes do not exist. My friend checks again in
a short conversation with his son (thanks God for cell phones!) and we are soon on our way to store number two. Same question. The saleswoman turns to a gentleman, about 50, tastefully dressed in suit standing next to the cash register and repeat the question to him. He is obviously the expert. He nods at the question and looks at us. He answers as he walks toward us: "We have just one size left but these are not very good shoes. Nike made them to have some shoes like the "shock" at a lower price." His voice is very calm, soothing almost and he has an accent that I cannot place.
And he launches in the complete marketing strategy and all the different types of shoes made by Nike. I learn about full shocks ("Not good for a kid -- he probably does not need full support") to the high shocks, the low one. He is beaming as he tells us "the Nike shocks are very good quality shoes". He points to us the difference between the shock and the Impax. My friend is undecided. Understandably, he wants to bring back the exact model that his son asked him. The man smiles "Your son is a very nice kid. He is trying to save you money." We all laugh. My friend is not buying the shoes but a basketball jersey , also part of the list of wishes from one other son. He is almost done with the visa transaction when the man comes back to us with a shoe in his hand. It's a new Nike Air. He is explaining to us that Nike put them back on the market to please the part of the population that had grown up with them. I am fascinated by this guy who obviously knows and loves shoes in general and Nike in particular. Here is someone who goes at great length to inform and be informed on Nike. As we were just talking about the difference between France and the US, the temptation is too strong. I turn to my friend to point out that one would not find this kind of professionalism in a shoe vendor in France. They would be making you feel bad while resenting the fact that they are supposed to be at your service and that you're buying shoes that they can't afford.
The mark of serious trouble ahead for France? "The country where shoesalemen resent work". We leave the store. I can't resist asking the gentleman about his accent. He is from Iran. I bow to his professionalism.