Hussein walked through the swinging glass door of Miwani in downtown Nairobi. Miwani, a chic store on the corner of Kimathi Street and Mama Ngina Street, stocked and sold eyewear. If you wanted glasses of any kind, Miwani is where you went. The store had every brand and style under the sun, and the store catered to everyone; from the fashion fanatics to the legally blind. Hussein didn’t consider himself a fashion fanatic, nor was he legally blind, but he did like to look good. He wanted a pair of sunglasses to help with that, so of course he went to Miwani to get them.

The store was spotless and 6-foot high displays dotted the interior, but not in a haphazard way. The white walls housed so many vanity mirrors that the store looked like one giant mirror. You could literally see yourself from every angle. Hussein found it a little disconcerting. He was sure the store could’ve survived with four or five mirrors.

As he took in the interior of the store, a pretty woman wearing the most unique pair of Air Force 1’s he had ever seen walked up to him, a friendly smile on her face.

She wore glasses just as cool as her shoes.

“Hi, my name is Natalia. How can I help you?” she asked Hussein.

“Hi, I’d like to, um…” 

She had such lovely eyes, Hussein thought to himself. She kept smiling at him, raising an eyebrow quizically at him.

“Are you interested in buying glasses?” she asked.

“Oh yes, I’d like to buy a pair of sunglasses,” Hussein said quickly. “I don’t really know much about sunglasses though. What kinds do you have?”
“All of them,” Natalia answered. “Let me show you a few. You can try them on and see what looks good and what you like. Although with that symmetry I’m sure everything would look good on you.”

Hussein blushed and followed her to a revolving shelf display at the corner of the store. She picked out three different pairs of sunglasses for him, all of them different designs, and asked him to try them on. He did, and while they didn’t look bad on him, he didn’t think they suited him. She handed him two more, but he felt they didn’t flatter him as he would’ve liked.

She rummaged through the display and handed him three more pairs. Nothing changed. Hussein started to feel sorry for the Natalia. He started to apologise to her for being so picky, but she interrupted him.

“No need to apologise, I’m at your service,” she said. “It’s my job to make sure you get what you want and are happy with what you get, as picky as you might be. How about this? Why don’t you browse the displays and try on all the pairs you’d like, and when you’ve found one you like, call me over.”

“That sounds good,” Hussein replied.

He walked to the wall across from the entrance to the store where he’d seen a pair of sunglasses with round frames he’d liked. He picked them up and tried them on, looking at the mirror lining the wall of the store. Too brash, he thought, and looked through the rest of the display.

As he did so, a burly man walked into the store. Hussein watched him in the mirror on the wall as the man looked around at the store and the people in it.

“Can I get some help please?” he said loudly.

A different shop attendant, this one male, walked up to him with the same friendly smile Natalia had, if not as pretty.

“Yes sir, how may I help you?” the attendant asked the man.

“I need sunglasses,” the man said.

“What kind?”

“Kind? The kind that will stop me from squinting all the time because of this Nairobi sun.”

“May I show you a selection of the types of sunglasses we have–”

“I’m very busy,” the man said impatiently. “Just give me those ones,” pointing at a pair of sunglasses sitting on a display in the centre of the store.

“Would you like to try them on first?” the attendant asked him.

“What for?”

“To make sure they fit and that you like how they look on you.”

“They’ll look fine, but bring them to me anyway.”

Hussein watched the exchange, his eyes hidden behind a pair of sunglasses he’d picked up from the display in front of him. He looked down at another pair of sunglasses, these ones clubmasters with dark green lenses and brown rims. He tried them on.

The attendant brought the sunglasses to the man, and he put them on. He turned to a mirror, then turned to the store attendant.

“What did I tell you? Now pack them up and show me where to pay.”

“Actually sir, I have another pair that may suit you better,” the attendant said.

“Are you saying that this pair doesn’t suit me?”

Hussein looked at the man’s reflection in the mirror. Even from where he was standing, he could tell that the sunglasses did not suit the man. They were too small, and the style didn’t complement his square-shaped face.

“Not as well as this pair might,” the attendant said. “We’d love for you to look your absolute best, not just good.”

“We’d love for you to look your absolute best, not just good.”

Well played, Hussein thought to himself.

“I always look my best,” the man said, “and I’ll take this pair.”

The attendant went to the counter to get the man’s purchase ready, and Hussein watched in amusement behind a pair of aviators as the man admired himself in the store’s mirror.

“Find something you like?”

Startled, Hussein looked to see Natalia standing behind him.

“Actually yes,” he said as he held up the pair he was wearing. “I think this is the pair I’ve been looking for. What do you think?” he asked as wore them.

“They suit you,” she said.

“Shall I get them ready for you?” Natalia asked.

“Yes please.”

Natalia took the glasses from him and beckoned Hussein to follow her to the store’s counter. As they got there the man from before was just completing his purchase, and turned around in a huff as he was handed his receipt, nearly walking into Hussein. He walked by Hussein without apologising, his glasses clutched in his fist, and walked out of the store.

Hussein shook his head, then turned to the counter as Natalia prepared his purchase.

“The customer is always right, isn’t he?” he said with a laugh.

“Yes,” she replied, “he always is.”