I took an experimental step in my new shoes, and raised an eyebrow in surprise.

‘Comfortable, right?’ Archie grinned at me, bobbing his head.

‘Not bad,’ I conceded with a nod. ‘What did you say these were again?’

‘The black ones,’ he said, pointing at a shelf behind me.

‘You don’t know the brand?’

‘No. Why, do you?’

‘No, I’m asking— haven’t you worked here for like, three years?’

‘Almost four,’ he said with a smile. ‘They’re thinking about promoting me.’

‘We definitely aren’t,’ his manager said, looking bored as she walked past us with an armful of shoe boxes.

‘I understand, Denice,’ Archie called over his shoulder at her, shooting her a wink. ‘She can’t show favouritism,’ he explained, turning back to me. ‘She needs to look impartial before the decision is made.’

‘I definitely don’t,’ she said from behind the counter, scanning the boxes.

‘Any day now,’ Archie grinned. ‘Now, can I interest you in some toe and shoe pads to help with foot pain? I hear they, uh… help with foot pain?’

‘You’re really bad at this job,’ I frowned at my friend.

‘They haven’t fired me yet!’ he chuckled.

‘Not yet,’ I distinctly heard Denice mutter to herself. Archie either didn’t hear or pretended not to notice.

‘Woah, dude,’ Archie cried out as I slipped the shoes off. ‘Are your arches okay?’

‘My arches?’ I asked. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Oh I’ve just noticed with a lot of our customers, they complain about foot pain when their arches look like that.’

‘What are you, some sort of podiatrist?’ I chuckled. ‘Running your own little mini podiatry clinic near Cheltenham, from this shoe store?’

‘What’s a podiatrist?’ he looked up at me, puzzled.

‘Never mind,’ I sighed. ‘You just keep doing you, buddy.’

He pulled off my shoe and I winced as I stepped back onto the carpet.

‘Just out of curiosity,’ I said through gritted teeth. ‘What should I do if my, uh… arches are hurting?’