It has finally happened. Alas, it’s time to pay the Piper and just live with the consequence of my actions. After 30 years in sales, my legs and feet are racked with pain.
In my defense, Sales is all about having a leg up (no pun intended) on the consumer.
It starts with first impressions. What I call the “10-second rule.” It’s simple. Everyone is judged by the people we meet. And when selling a product, one needs to have an advantage, real or imagined, to write-the-order, close-the-deal, and get it shipped.
Anybody can read a brochure, yet it is the successful salesman (I use that generically) who understands that a great deal of selling is appearance. That ol’ first impression. You know that certain je ne sais quoi? After all, it is necessary to project oneself as the expert. It is called: Upmanship.
The idea is to assuage the customers' doubts by assuring them you have only their best interests in mind; you are their friend. And everyone knows it is always best to do business with a friend.
Which is why this platitude hits home: clothes make the man, but as everybody knows it is especially true for a woman.
As an industry leader, I dressed for my job as Vice President of Sales for an international manufacturer.
Which explains today’s lower extremity problem. It was brought on by decades of wearing the ever-so-leg-and-body-flattering Louie Jordan six-inch-pointed-toe-high heels. (Back then, I would buy them in every color). As the result of my dedication to my appearance, said shoe, is now the source of my disability.
At first, when the pain started, it was at bedtime and could be soothed by doing leg lifts. Not now. The discomfort for all intents and purposes is 24/7. The whole time I’m thinking how does a ballerina manage her pain?
The truth is I contacted City Ballet and heard back from one of the dancers. Ariana was kind enough to write out her routine and the measures she goes to in order to stay in shape. Golly, hopefully she will avoid leg and foot trauma.
Back to my problem, I had just surrendered to the chronic pain as my due punishment for a lifetime of vanity.
The only thing that helped was while cruising to Alaska last summer, I had four, I said four, hot stone massages in a week. I felt fabulous. Regrettably, by the end of the first week trudging around the Yukon, the benefit was lost.
Meanwhile, the distinguished medical community offered me pills which weren’t enough so I added topical lotion which too wasn’t quite enough.
And then, my girlfriend Jaci said she wears compression hose while cashiering at a big box store. If she doesn’t, she suffers excruciating leg and foot pain.
Boing! The light finally turned on.
And that is when I finally heard my husband’s voice urging me to wear a pair of his compression hose. Knowing all along that VJ has managed his post-radiation leg swelling due to lymph gland damage for the past six years by wearing compression socks.
All the same, let me be perfectly honest. The main reason I have not tried on a pair of compression socks is they are not pretty. But mostly, they are as far from pretty as ugly can be.
Yet here is what happened after only one week. My ankles and calves do not look like tree stumps. And. I can walk with a stride instead of the former painful-old-lady waddle.
It all boils down to this: it was a choice between vanity or pain. I give up. The chickens have come home to roost. All said and done and for the first time ever, I submitted to function over form.
And still my humiliation wasn’t complete until I swallowed that bitter pill. I had to stand before VJ, look him squarely in his sky-blue eyes, and utter previously unspoken words, “You were right.”
Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected]