Sunday, January 9, 2011


In May of last year I mentioned to Melissa that I needed new Birkenstocks. I have never worn anything but a pair of Birkenstock "Birkis" professional series clogs in black since before I ever worked in a professional kitchen. I have briefly tried some of the other options but my Doc Martens lasted only about 15 minutes, before I peeled them off and swore to never wear them again. This is serious stuff for me as I stand for up to 14 or 15 hours a day most days, I rarely sit, or stop moving. I feel like the Birkenstocks have been designed to help me do that, allowing me to do that with the least amount of side effects possible. Most of my kitchen staff wears them as well. If they need a pair of shoes and ask, I will get them for them. While you can wear crocs, knock-off crocs, shoes for crews, Dansko, Doc Marten, or others nothing will come close in traction, wear and tear, and comfort.

It was around the end of May that I found a website of a Corvalis Oregon company that sold birkenstocks, and I called them. The nice woman who answered the phone explained that they didn't have them but could get them, and that she would "call me back." She didn't. The following week I called a company in New England somewhere and was told by the nice man on the phone that they were not available at this time. He claimed to have been able to access the entire Birkis inventory for all of N. America and no one had a pair, but they were scheduled to be made in September, and then shipped from Germany.

See I wear a size 16. The biggest that these shoes are made is the equivalent of a 15, but I make it work with some stretching. Apparently there is not a big call for a size 15 chef/nurse shoe, and Birkenstock only makes them every 2 years. GRRRRRR. Another call to the Corvalis company revealed the same thing. I continued working, trying to source a solution. It was mid July when the Corvalis company called and explained they had the shoes I wanted in their Portland Oregon store. A trip was planned, and when I arrived, surprisingly enough they were the wrong shoes. A different Birki, in black that is made for gardening, and washing the car, and what-not. Not going to work for me in the kitchen. They apologized profusely and I wasted some gas and a day off. GRRR. The woman in Corvalis called me and apologized and said she would have the shoe in her hands in late August to mid-September. I continued to get angry, and slip all over wet floors.

In October the woman from Corvalis called Melissa and said the shoe was on its way. We paid for them, and expedited shipping, and waited. What arrived was the same pair of gardening clogs I saw in Portland. I was pissed. I called them again, and again she apologized profusely. Offered me a free pair of the same clog as I was looking for in blue not black. I, as calmly as possible explained blue wasn't going to work, and that I had to have black. She told me to keep the ones she sent as a freebie. While that all seems fine and dandy, it was far from a solution. I tried to wear them a few days and slipped and was generally uncomfortable. Meanwhile my existing birks had worn to a paper thin sole, both sides had ripped in the back, and the foot insole was grossly depleted and smelled horrible. She said she would keep me updated and send them the day she got them.

I thought worst case I would have them by November 1st.....but no. Thanksgiving?.... umm no. Christmas came and went, as did New Years. I looked for other options but in those sizes the choices are very limited in every day shoes, let alone black work shoes that I wouldn't slip in, and could work all day in. Then a breakthrough, an email saying she had them, and they were headed my way. I didn't believe her.

Alas here they are, eight and a half months later, they arrived, gratis, from the sender. They are perfect, and I almost cried. Thinking about buying another pair "just in case". You may catch me around town in them.

1 comment:

  1. You are a great storyteller. I might have cried for joy at the end. Might have.