I realized that working at the shoe store twice a week with my students is kind of like special ed whack-a-mole.
You have them all doing their separate little jobs, and they take turns bursting out into weird or disruptive behaviors, prompting you to rush over and restore order.
The developmentally disabled moles rarely telegraph their intentions; they just do it.
I am standing there, sipping coffee, thinking about how much I hate shoes, and the first one goes off.
"Martin, no barking!" I say.
Martin is absolutely petrified of dogs, so of course he is also obsessed with them and cannot help himself from emulating, loudly, the very thing he so deeply fears.
A mother with her little boy tries to discreetly move far away from Martin.
I feel bad for her, because she is forced to leave the children's area and feign interest in men's brown loafers sitting on a nearby display.
"FLIPPY!" comes a squeaky expulsion from across the store.
This one comes from Elsie, who is supposed to be washing mirrors but is now pacing around, chattering happily to the many talkative occupants of her head.
Elsie is very smart, very with it.
When I do not know something going on in the realm of pop culture, I turn to Elsie for my entertainment news.
I never fact check her, though, so I still can't make small talk at parties.
Of course, the Hyde to her streetwise Jekyll is her schizophrenia, which means when you are trying to get her to listen, you are competing with random anime characters and the entire cast of Happy Tree Friends.
"Elsie, you can't talk to yourself here."
She stares blankly.
"They'll hear you," she mumbles back to me.
She often punctuates her speech with little high-pitched voices and cartoon sound effects.
"Kero. Can't do what you want, arigato. FLIPPY!"
I hover around long enough to ensure she has reassembled herself.
As I move along, she mutters something about someone named Chrono and his decision to use soul power.
"....I'm Marcy", I hear someone say awkwardly.
Kevin the knuckle bumper cannot help himself; he just has to greet every stranger he sees, very, very, closely.
Dear trembling Marcy has been backed into a corner by Kevin's extroversion.
"Kevin, please get back to work."
He steps back from Marcy and I guess she hadn't found any shoes she just had to have because she leaves the store immediately.
Presiding over it all is the Shoe Lady, the manager of the store.
She is a very nice person.
But oh my Lord of all that is right and true, she is the most obnoxious salesperson I have ever had the extreme discomfort to have to listen to.
When a customer comes in, she zeroes in on them like a feral dog on adorable little kittens.
She bites down and she shakes them incredibly fast.
Then they are dead, and broken-hearted children are standing nearby, sobbing silently, mouths agape.
Shoe Lady verbally pummels customers:
"WHAT BRINGS YOU IN TODAY?
WHAT ARE YOU HUNTING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU AFTER?
WE HAVE THOSE IN RED WE HAVE THOSE IN GREEN
WE CAN ORDER IT
YOU CAN HAVE MINE TAKE THEM TAKE THEM OR I WON'T EAT AND I'LL DIE AND ARE YOU A REWARDS MEMBER?
YOU SHOULD BE DON'T YOU LIKE MONEY? DON'T YOU LIKE SAVINGS? WHO DOESN'T LIKE SAVINGS?
WHO DOESN'T LOVE SHOES? SHOES? SHOES? SHOES!!!! WHAAA YAAAY LOODLE LOODLE SHOOPY BUGGEM SHOOP SHOOP. shoes.
It is absolutely excruciating to listen to, terrifying to watch.
SHOE LADY! Learn to read people's body language, learn the signs.
If someone keeps moving away from where ever you are, if someone does not respond when you speak to them, or says "just looking" in a bit of a sing-song voice, it means LEAVE THEM ALONE.
She is the fourth mole in my little game, and I wish to whack her down the most.