Why it’s better going to a shop, than shopping online

Yesterday, I decided to go to an established Asics shoe store in inner Melbourne, to buy another pair of Asics, as the new Mizuno’s were giving me a bit of trouble. 

If you have never been to this particular sports store, I can highly recommend it. Not only can you buy a cheaper pair of runners, you can also be ridiculed and psychologically tortured, which in today’s world of political correctness and anti-bullying, is hard to find.

Normally, one would ring with an enquiry, but if you ask how much the shoes are, they will yell out..”No prices over the phone!!” So, after being told that, what I do now, is carefully ask in this order:

Me: “Do you have the new Kayano 26 in stock? 

SS [Sports store person]: Yes

Me: “Do you have US size 11 in men’s?”

SS : Yes

Me: “If I came in with 240 in cash, would I get change?”

SS: Yes

Me: If I came in with 220, would I get change?”

SS: Yes

Me: If I came in with 200 would I get change?

SS: No

I know I am getting warm, so this is good enough for me, but if you get a no, you don’t want to push it any further, or there will be no soup for you. 

I get out of my truck in my tradie outfit and change into my old kayanos and running socks on the footpath. I only have to walk 20 steps and I am in the old-fashioned shop, wondering where the eccentric owner is hiding. But, a new girl at the desk is on the phone, she hangs up and comes over straight away. 

“Hi, what do you want?” She says.  But before I can answer, she points down to my old kayanos….

“What’s the big idea of not doing up your shoelaces?”

I was just about to tell her that I had only just popped them on and walked 20 steps…. but no

“Don’t you know that shoelaces are designed to pull your heel back into the heel box and keep your toes away from the front of the shoe?”

” I had a rough idea” I meekly replied ” I also thought that they were there to help keep your shoe on your foot too, but I had only just changed into them and only walked…..” She cuts me off

“So, what do you want to buy now? More Kayanos?”

She made me do my laces up, and told me to bang the heel back into the shoe, stand upright, looking forward, being quiet….

“Your toe has worn a hole through the top of the shoe”

“Yes, for me, that normally means a I need a new pair” I said

“That also means that your toes point up, but a lot of people’s do, so don’t worry about it too much. Do you run in these?” She asked

“Oh yes, I do a bit of running” not wanting to open myself up for more ridicule.

I ask to try on the GT’s, then the new Kayano 26’s. If you look on the bottom of the cling wrapped display shoe, it reads “Living room” because that’s where the stock is….in the living room, as there is a bit of a house on the back of the old shop.  The Kayanos have “Top of stairs” so you can work out where to find those.  Then the owner comes out of his hiding hole.

“After some runners?” He asks.

I did want to say “No, I was actually feeling cool, calm and collected and exceptionally centred, so I thought I’d come in here to be shot down in flames”  

But I just said “Yes” …. deciding to keep it simple.

I asked him what the drop difference was between the Kayanos and the GT’s. He gave me a demonstration of how a clown runs when shoes are too low in the heel and they do their Achilles, and then tells me that Kayanos have a high heel, so I’d be okay. He then told me how he goes for a walk in them in the dark and they are good. 

I decided that was as good a deal clincher as anything, so I said, “I’ll take the Kayanos.”

“Beautiful colour” he said, “That’ll colour up your day.”

I pull out my credit card, remembering that years ago, it was only cash here…” Can I use this here?” I stupidly ask

“No….cash only, there’s a post office down the road, a Commonwealth Bank, you can drive or walk down, parking is easy this time of day and you’ll be back here in no time, beautiful colour though, these will really colour up your day.” 

Yes, it was like Monty Python’s dead parrot sketch and I I felt like he was reading this well-rehearsed script off the wall.

“Do you do a bit of running?” he asks

“Just a little bit, I’m hoping to run the Queenstown Marathon in November. Oh look, I have two hundred cash in my pocket” I reply quietly

“Have you been training? yes it’s two hundred cash”

“Oh yes, we ran the 50k at Surf coast and have done a 28, 35 and 37ker so far. Can I have a receipt please?”

“Oh, you are so fit, I only walk at night, that’s amazing and who do I make the receipt too?”

I take my receipt and shoes after another five minutes of explaining Run with Alan. I exit the shop, walk the twenty steps back to my car and just sit in my car for five minutes, just thinking about what had happened. It hasn’t changed in all the years I’ve been going here. If your life is a little bland and everything is just a little too beige, I can highly recommend going to this sports store, for a pair of Asics. That’s all they stock, just Asics. 

Some people say that we are losing the skill and the joy of interaction, going into a shop. Most of us have all bought a dud, or the wrong size or colour, online.  So, give it a go, try going into a shop, and if you are really game, try finding a store like this one. Take cash with you, don’t ask silly questions, make sure your shoelaces are tied up, and you should have an interesting interaction with the staff. You will need to be of strong mind and extremely fond of being made a fool of. But you will be rewarded with great shoes and down to earth, knowledge and service.

I loved it, and I feel like the shoes have coloured my day as much as the physical, shopping experience.

More of my two worlds.

I was asked to replace a timber floor on a verandah, for some friends. The demolition is always fun and as expected, I uncovered old bottles and cans, a dead cat, a rat’s rest with a hundred empty snail shells, and not to mention spiders and cobwebs, that hadn’t seen daylight for fifty years. I replaced the bearers and joists and all I was waiting for, was my delivery of beautiful, jarrah floorboards.

It was also my mother in law’s eighty-seventh birthday and I said that I would make a cake. I decided on an Opera Gateaux, knowing that she would find it delicious. I had only made a boiled fruitcake before, but how hard could it be?  All you have to do, is follow a recipe.

I whisked the egg whites to firm peaks, then folded them into the cake mixture. After baking my sponge, it cooled and I carefully cut it into three thin layers. I boiled the butter cream for five minutes until it was thick and sticky, then whisked in the egg yolks until it was thick and cool. I was preparing the ganache; gently melting the chocolate, as the milk came to the boil. I was slowly combining the melted chocolate to the hot milk, when the phone rang….

“Hello, it’s Alan speaking” as I kept stirring.

“Yeah g’day mate, it’s Johno from the timber yard, I gotcha floorin’ here mate, where’d ya wannit?” announces my timber delivery courier.

“If you could wang it on the right side of the drive mate, just don’t ding the house with ya truck, then shut the gate after you, that’d be ace” I said in my building site voice, as I prepare to fold the cream into my chocolate mixture.

“No sweat knackers, too easy, is there anything else I need to do?” asks Johno

“Well I’m just making a ganache, for an Opera Gateaux and do you think I need to let the chocolate mixture cool down, before I fold the cream in, just in case it might curdle?” I ask

“Yer what? Building a garage for Nick Gato? Whatever….yer floorin’s dropped off mate….av a good one”

I think I only just got away with that one.


I was watching a small swarm of blowflies savagely working over a dead possum. Each fly seemed to be working hard on its own patch, with its own task and not getting in any other fly’s way.  It reminded me very much of a modern jazz band, with each musician playing a different instrument, with a different task, in a different location on the stage.

The only difference was the hum from the blowflies was easier to listen to.

Roy and the hi tech world

Roy loved the  world of hi tech. He was driving in his hybrid car when his mobile phone rang and it automatically switched to voice mail. He was unable to answer it, as he was preoccupied with searching for a public toilet. He was using the National public toilet search app on his dashboard computer and the screen showed the exact location of the nearest public convenience. Roy activated the AUTO PILOT option by voice recognition and the car started to drive itself; automatically. The car navigated and stopped automatically outside the modern public toilet. The seatbelt released and the driver’s door opened; automatically. Roy then got out of the car and walked towards the toilet with a semi-restricted gait and a slight touch of urgency. His stride increased when he saw the green light, next to the closed door, indicating that the cubicle was vacant. As he got closer, the infra-red sensor detected his presence and the door opened; automatically. When he stepped towards the toilet, the door closed and the music started playing; automatically. The turntable on the floor spun Roy around one hundred and eighty degrees. The toilet lid then opened ninety-eight degrees and the toilet seat automatically heated itself quickly to thirty-seven degrees; body temperature. Roy hastily grabbed at his belt and with not much time to spare, undid the top button on his now, very tight trousers. He then pulled down on the soon to be noticed faulty zipper, which came off cleanly in his fingers. The zipper was jammed and his trousers were on for good. The toilet seat was warm and beckoning, the Eagles were singing “Take it easy” in the background and all Roy could do, was fill his trousers; automatically.