NORTH ADAMS — The other day I noticed that my feet were very wet. This would not have bothered me, except for the fact that I was wearing socks and boots at the time, the latter of which specifically had the job of preventing my feet from being wet.

In most situations, when you completely fail to do the one thing that your job consists of, you are fired immediately.

But I run my feet — well, people say I run my mouth, and my feet run me — but I run my feet the way they run Congress: Even if someone does a really terrible job, they hold onto their job until a replacement can be hired. And like Congress, I acquire new clothes only once every two years. (Er, that is to say, like Congress acquires new members. Obviously, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey acquire new clothes more frequently than once every two years. Which seems wasteful, especially since they could just swap. I think Ed Markey would look good in more purple shirts and jackets.)

Anyway, the point is that my boots were leaking, so I had to buy new shoes. Which is not high on the list of things I enjoy, for various reasons.

Aside from the obvious expense and inconvenience, I have a difficult time finding shoes that fit because my feet are extra-wide. My stomach may be extra-wide also, but it's a lot easier to find an XL shirt than it is to find a EEE shoe. Some Marines have been known to sail all the way to Libya to find a triple-E — although they try to save money and Derne their socks.

For me and my big feet, shoe-shopping is always a sole-crushing experience. Summer shopping is slightly easier because the shoe doesn't have to cover your whole foot, and you can just buy sandals. Sandals are so popular here in the Berkshires that some people just call them Berks.


So I'll go to a shoe shop that says "We have Berks!" But then when I go to ask the clerk at work if he has a Berk in my size, he says, "Sorry, we have no such Berk in stock."

I really hate it when they flip-flop.

Yet as annoying as buying sandals can be, buying winter boots is much worse, because there's more shoe pressing in on my feet on all sides. I can't even seem to fit my foot into most of the boots they bring me to try on, which is painfully frustrating, and sometimes visa versa. I will cry out unhappily, "These boots don't fit!" And the clerk will respond, "Hold your tongue!" So, I pull up the tongue of the boot to make room and then I can squeeze my foot in. It fits after all; I feel like such a heel.

So, finally it's time to purchase my new boots, and then the computer won't ring them up. The clerk types in the code for the boots, and it doesn't work. Ever the helpful sort, I suggest, "You typed in the boots once, but have you tried re-booting it?" The clerk just stares at me and does not say anything, which frankly surprises me.

I expected him to say, "Go away. Shoe."

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, the author of "From God To Verse," and when it comes to store clerks, sometimes gets off on the wrong foot. His website is