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Shannon Bardwell: Ma'am, pleather is not leather


Shannon Bardwell



It's hard to fool a Prairie woman about some things. Like if a city slicker tells me that eggs come from the store, I know that chicken eggs are found resting on my mailbox, put there by Bryant Wiygul and that eggs are brown, not white as florescent light bulbs. And if someone tells me that spices come in a little tin box, then they've never rolled rosemary between their fingers or bruised a mint leaf and dropped it in their iced tea.  


So when the lady with a New Jersey accent tried to tell me that the sandals stamped with "all manmade materials" were leather, we had some discussing to do. 


As the family's designated shopper I shop local, but on occasion I must look elsewhere or, in this case, I had a gift card. 


With card in hand I viewed scores of Internet sandals and made my selection; then I had to register, create a user name and a password that I'll never remember, and if I do write it down I'm sure not to remember where I wrote it. I tracked the shipment through UPS and watched the sandals travel in and out of big cities. I told Sam to be on the lookout for my package in route to the Prairie. 


He brought the package home and I peeked in box. Hmm ... they looked chintzy. Under the strap I read: "All manmade materials." What? My leather-promised sandals were manmade plastic direct from China.  


Like Rolex watches from Romania or Costa sunglasses crafted in Tijuana, I figured I had discovered a scam. I called the distributor, where a service rep with a New Jersey accent answered.  


I explained that the sandals were advertised as leather, but to my dismay they were all manmade materials -- and though the box and the shoe said the brand name they must be fakes. I thought that she might be alarmed. She wasn't. 


She sharply explained in her New Jersey accent three times that the sandals were leather, but they were manmade leather. 


"Ma'am," I explained in my sweet Southern drawl, "leather is made from cows, and there is no leather on this shoe. Not one iota, not a speck." 


"Click" and my New Jersey service rep was gone. You would think that Jersey cows would have something to do with New Jersey and she would know something about cows and leather.  


I fumed about my plastic-leather sandals until I discovered an email where Ms. New Jersey apologized for inadvertently being "disconnected" and offered to send me a return label for the non-leather shoes. You know they record those calls.  


Anyway, "Carla" and I had a few more exchanges, in which she became very nice. I'm thinking that in the future I'll stick to home shopping, where folks know more about cows and leather and speak with a sweet Southern drawl and say "Please" and "Thank you" and "Have a nice day," and then hang up the phone.  


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie. Her email is [email protected]


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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