From the moment I stepped into the turquoise boots with the bright red soles, I felt the magic. I had no intention of buying boots that day…we were merely killing time before driving home. We had a fabulous lunch at a quaint outdoor cafe in Carmel-by-the Sea. It was a leisurely lunch complete with cocktails and wine so we decided to stroll through the village for a while before driving home. We didn’t make it very far—a mere two doors down, we were drawn to the display window and we both gasped.
“Come on,” Nancy said. “You must try those turquoise boots on. They are so you!”
What harm could come of just trying them on? Judging by the posted prices I knew I wouldn’t be buying them…handmade works of art stitched by Turkish artisans—beautiful to admire, and lust after, but completely out of my budget.
I barely got them zipped up and was heading toward the full-length mirror when I heard Nancy asking about discounts. She handed her credit card to the saleslady as I protested, “Nooo, you can’t…”
I got the don’t argue with me look and I shut my mouth. Nancy smiled and said, “This is your birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day and birthday again present. You must have those boots! No argument.”
Nancy is quite an intuitive lady, not to mention generous beyond words. I wear the boots often and they never fail to bring smiles and comments from all—young, old, male, or female—without fail.
I recently worked as a volunteer at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. Linda Lee, the Volunteer Coordinator gave us helpful hints at the pre-conference volunteer meeting, “Make yourself stand out with a signature piece, such as a red scarf, or a distinctive hairdo.” I decided to be the “lady in the turquoise boots” for the entire three-day event. Although the boots don’t have the five-inch stiletto heal I’ve been known to strut around in, they do have a high heel. Considering the San Francisco hills, they might as well be that high.
To save money I stayed at my son’s house in San Leandro and took BART into the city, knowing there was a BART station right across the street from the hotel, the Hyatt Embarcadero. As I entered the station I was overwhelmed by the bank of ticket machines. I glanced up and saw a lady in the information kiosk so I marched up to her window. Her eyes grew large as I approached, and as she slid her glass window open, and before I had a chance to speak, she pursed her lips, nodded her head, and said, “Girl, you got some fine-lookin’ boots there.”
I stood up a little straighter, beamed my mega-watt smile and simply said, “Thank you! Yes, they were a special gift from a dear friend. I’m trying to get to San Francisco. Can you help me?”
As she explained how to buy the ticket I kept nodding my head, but I glazed over. She shook her head, got her keys out, and said, “Wait there. I’ll be right out.” And she walked me over to the machine, helped me buy the ticket and pointed me in the right direction for the train to the city. She added some cautionary advice, “Don’t talk on your cell phone, keep it hidden. They be snatchin’ people’s phones right out they hands. And don’t be lookin’ at nobody—no eye contact. You hear?”
“Yes, got it. No cell phone, no eye contact, get off at Embarcadero.” And she burst out laughing. I got on the escalator as she watched me disappear and I thought, note to self: bring that lady some flowers tomorrow.
As soon as I got off the escalator and walked onto the platform, a lady sitting on a bench said, “Nice boots! I have never seen boots that color. They’re great! I am mesmerized.”
I sat down next to her and showed her the bright red sole. Her eyes got big and she said, “Even better. Where did you get them?”
I didn’t want to disappoint her by saying they were one of a kind from an exclusive shop in Carmel so I simply said, “They were a gift.”
I made it to my station without taking my cell phone out and without making eye contact with anybody. I will admit to staring at people in the train windows which acted like mirrors in the dark tunnel going from Oakland to San Francisco. The cast of characters was colorful, to say the least. As I rode the escalator up to street level, a young man standing behind me spoke, “Those boots. Wow! You’ve inspired me to improve my own wardrobe…don’t think I can top those boots, though.”
Being my first year as a volunteer, I wanted to prove myself worthy of this privilege. We were warned to be on time, dress professionally (no jeans), and report to the volunteer room for duty each day. I did all that and eagerly awaited my instructions from my team leader. A very attractive lady with a clipboard looked my name up and said, “You will be stationed on the corner of Market and Battery to direct people to the Presenter’s Party which is being held at the Mechanic’s Building on Post Street.”
I was rendered speechless. “Corner?” was all I managed to get out.
“Yes, there are six of you, one for each corner along the way to the Mechanic’s Institute at 57 Post. All you have to do is look for people with bright orange tags around their necks and assure them they are going the right way.”
“But…it’s raining out,” I said softly.
“Yes,” she smiled. “The hotel has umbrellas. Text me when you are on your post. You’ll be there from a quarter to six to a quarter after.”
I smiled brightly, “Got it! Market and Battery. I will be there on time.”
I checked the clock. I had forty-five minutes to find my spot. I decided to leave immediately, scope it out, and duck into the Tadich Grill for a quick glass of Chardonnay if I had time to kill.
I walked briskly through the light sprinkle with my rickety little fold-up umbrella. I went in the direction my team leader had pointed. Or so I thought. After walking for about ten minutes, I looked up at the corner street sign and it said neither Market nor Battery. I asked a passerby. “No clue, but I like your boots.”
I was starting to panic. I checked the time on my cell phone. Oh, no! Low battery. Market was a big street. How could I miss it? Deep breath. I looked across the street and sitting there in an Asian Noodle-Bowl Restaurant were two young, good-looking cops having dinner. I bolted for the door and barged up to their table, a bit breathless.
“Hi!” I beamed trying to collect myself. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m lost.” I paused to collapse my umbrella. “I’m supposed to be on my corner by five forty-five, but I can’t find it…the corner of Market and Battery!”
They exchanged glances and seemed to give me the once over. There was a moment of suspension and then I held up my laminated volunteer badge that hung around my neck. “I’m a volunteer! For the Writer’s Conference. I can’t be late!”
“Okay, lady. What corner do you want?” said the one on my right. “Nice boots, by the way.”
The two nice policemen set me on the right path and I hustled in between the drops and arrived at my designated post just in the nick of time. I got a text from my team leader saying to text her when I arrived, I responded immediately, “I’m here!” Whew. I gathered myself, looked around to get my bearings and was greeted by an older smiling Chinese man who was sitting on a ledge next to his shopping cart that held a sleeping bag and a pillow. On the other side was a younger man leaning against a bicycle with a cart that held a smiling black pitbull perched atop a sleeping bag. Bicycle man greeted me, “Nice boots,” he said. I ticked my head in the direction of his trailer, “Nice dog,” I smiled.
Next year, I may find another signature item, but maybe the turquoise boots can’t be topped. I think I shall wear them until they’re shredded. As long as they keep sparking joy, I shall cherish them.