Men, in general, are typically not overly concerned with fashion. We enjoy the fact that we are able to roll out of bed, throw on whatever is lying on the floor next to us, and be out and on the move in 15 minutes or less. However, there is an exception to that general statement. I think that men care very much when it comes to their shoes.
Shoes provide men with both form, fashion, and functionality. This is why I didn’t feel I was at my best this morning. You see, I was not able to get a proper shoe shine. The plan was to take a pair to the shoe hospital Monday or Tuesday to get a nice touch up, but that plan went out the window. I am heading to the first residency of my doctoral program and the last thing I wanted to do show up with a pair of shabby shoes.
I have always said that shoes say much about the character of a man. Typically the better qualities in a man…
So I get to the airport fifteen minutes later than I wanted to. I check my luggage (for a fee-what gives?) and rush toward security. My plane was due to start boarding in 20 minutes. I had a “Plan B”. I had a layover in Charlotte, NC. I could maybe grab lunch and a quick shine while I was there. Problem is, I had never been to the Charlotte-Douglas Airport before and did not know the lay of the land. As I prepare to get in the security line with my mind on my feet, an angel calls out to me:
“Shoe shine, brother?” the man calls out from 20 feet away.
I am torn. My flight is going to leave in less than 30 minutes and I still haven’t gone through security. However, I need to get these dogs polished up. Hesitantly, I make the toughest decision of this still young morning…
“How fast can you knock it out?”
“Five minutes. And I’ll even give you the $100 shine,” he said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. I was in his chair faster than you could say, “Mr. Man’s Meticulously Magical Mojo”.
Charles (that’s is name) began to work his magic. He took out the wax an spread it liberally across the front of my shoes. We make small talk as he did his thing and my shoes were transformed before my eyes. He says, ” These have never been shined before, have they?” I nod my head in embarrassment and say, “Not this pair.” He doesn’t judge me nor does he look at me with scorn. Instead he says, “No worries. I’m gonna give you the $100 dollar shine. All for four bucks.” And he did. After the final buff with his terrycloth he says, “You’re all done. The $100 dollar shine.” And just like that, I had regained my pride. My comfort. I felt like I had slipped on a a brand new suit.
I have said before that it doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do it well. Charles, the shoe shine man, is a restorer of character. A restorer of pride. A builder of confidence. Just like a barber, Charles has the ability to rebuild self-esteem and optimism. He did it for me. He helped prepare me for one of the most important moments of my professional life. He did it with a smile.
Thank you, Charles.