After suffering from debilitating depression for a long time, things have hugely turned around for me. An influx of writing opportunities of have fallen into my lap, male attention is on the rise and my sister is alive. There was about a month there where I was hard-pressed to find something to bring me down. And then my rain boots fell apart.
I should warn you that this is probably going to sound materialistic, petty and first-world problem-y. Because it totally is. And if you’re not interested in fashion and branding, stop reading or read and then make fun of me in the comment section. I need to get this out.
I live in Vancouver, a city that sees something like 86 days of sunshine a year. If I’m going to invest in rain boots, they have to fulfill certain criteria because they are going to be my second skin.
Firstly, my rain boots must protect my feet from getting wet. Secondly, my rain boots must be easy to slip on and off since I’m going to be wearing them all the time. Finally, my rain boots shouldn’t make me look like a wittle girl about to go splash in some puddwules, all oversized and dumb looking. So it certainly helps if they look sleek and tall on me.
My Hunters have fit those simple criteria for the last two years. I wore them so much, they became my identifier. People would see me on the street, walking my dog, with my big red headphones and bright red rain boots. They were part of my uniform. I have worn them at least three times a week since first bought them. We are in love.
So when I came home from a rainy dog walk recently, only to find my feet damp and cold, I was thrown off. (Is there a more uncomfortable feeling than wet feet? Oh, wait I know… making out with someone who kisses like a reptile.) I inspected my beloved rain boots. They were cracked. My heart sank. These cost $150. That’s a lot of money to spend every two years. Eeeeh, I shrugged. Five minutes later, I was online, looking for a new pair. I really liked the metallic ones.
Instead of buying another set of boots off the bat, I contained myself and I decided to see what would happen if I contacted Hunter to complain. I’m usually too lazy and jaded to make an effort to complain about things but I wanted to see what would happen, especially since these boots were such a big part of my life. Several months earlier I had a lovely experience with UrbanEars, the Swedish makers of my fantastic headphones which I use everyday for work. After the cord of my pair started to fray, I wrote them a heartfelt note about how much I love their product (and their country.) I asked them how long they were intended to last (I was outside my warranty) and what I could do so it wouldn’t happen with the next pair.
Someone name Karelene was kind enough to write back, saying she was touched by my email and if I had my receipt and warranty, would see what she could do for me. I imagined Karelene as blond and attractive, like most Swedes are, with a warm smile and an inviting manner. I was tempted to see if Karelene would invite me to their offices to meet her in person, since I wanted a good excuse to visit my mother’s home country and make friends with attractive foreigners. I couldn’t find my receipt, but felt good when I went and bought another pair, knowing that they went out of their way to make me feel good as a loyal customer. (Man, this is starting to sound like a mom with a lot of time wrote this.)
The same can’t be said for Hunters. When I and wrote them an email, someone named Wendy wrote back a response that was canned and uncaring. I imagined Wendy to be miserable and lacking the glow that Karelene had. Her hair probably hid her face. She basically told me since I was outside their one-year warranty, they couldn’t do anything. When I dropped the “I’m a writer” threat, she still didn’t care. She was probably too busy eating lunch at her windowless desk. It felt empty, and didn’t give me the same feeling that Karelene’s response did. When I wrote back asking Wendy to give me three good reasons I should invest in another pair if they’re going to fall apart in two years, she never wrote back. I really wanted to stay loyal to their brand – what with all their cute colours and their tall, slender fit and the fact that they’re hands down my favourite pair of rubber boots I’ve invested in since I moved out West that make me genuinely happy – but I couldn’t. Wendy and Hunters clearly didn’t care about me. I couldn’t feel good giving them my hard-earned, yet easy to unload, cash.
While stoned on a day off during a recent trip to Toronto, I went into Get Outside and started chatting the ear off a really sweet sales person about my boots and how consumed I’ve become over the fact that I can’t bring myself to buy another pair. To my surprise she was totally sympathetic.
“Twenty years ago, you’d buy a pair of rubber boots and they’d last a lifetime,” she said. “Two years is not long enough to justify spending $150. I’d raise a stink if I were you.”
I smoked more pot and thought about how disposable everything’s become. How if I bought a pair of nice non-rain boots for $150 and they only lasted two years, I’d be equally as consumed. (Remember, everything’s going my way at this point in my life, so this is the stuff I am getting consumed over.) Why do record players from the 70s still work but my nearly three-year-old iPhone is turning into a piece of shit? What else could I do to get this unsettling, consumer-consumed feeling out of my system?
I just spent 1000 words telling you all about it. I suppose that’s a start.
Hi reader. All I’m looking for is recommendations on cute and functional rubber boots that aren’t Hunters. Feel free to leave a message in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
June 14, 2012 30 Comments