Monday, September 27, 2010

Dan, the Shoe Shine Man

The other day I was walking home from work on Columbus Street and a big, burly black guy in a Chicago Bears jersey approached me and said, "Shoe shine, sir?"

My shoes actually did need to be shined, but, to be honest, I was in a poorly lit part of town and I just wanted to keep moving. "No thanks," I said and kept walking.

Then he said, "Wait, sir, I jus' needa tell you sometin'. Da bes' shoe shine polish you can buy is da kiwi shoe shine polish. You also need to buy one of dese here Kiwi buffuhs to get da nice shine. My name's Dan the Shoe Shine Man." He extended his hand and I took it. "I shine shoes domestically and internationally. Let me show–" Dan squirted polish onto my left shoe as we're talking and got down on one knee and patted his knee a couple of times, inviting my shoe to take its spot while he shined it. "–you somethin'."

I put my foot on his knee and he rubbed the polish all around my shoe with his fingers and then pulled out a dirty towel and started polishing away and singing while he worked, "You gotta look real nice and neat while you out here on Columbus Street." It made me crack a smile. Okay, enough with the rhymes. I didn't even want my shoes shined in the first place. But there I was. It looked like he was doing a good job. I peered over my shoulder periodically to make sure I wasn't going to get mugged. I felt like a sitting duck with my laptop bag and one shoe up on Dan's knee.

He started telling me all this other stuff and then paused before he used the Kiwi polish finisher. "I like to bend the tip of the shoe to make sure it all goes down in the cracks," he explained. He finished polishing and then had me compare the polished shoe with the old shoe. I was sure that he was going to say, "Okay, now, if you want the other shoe done you've gottta pay," but he didn't. He just grabbed my other shoe and started polishing. Then he started telling me about how he shines shoes globally and domestically again, so I said, skeptically, "You shine shoes internationally?"

"Yes sir," he said.

"Where do you shine shoes internationally?"

He thought for a second and then started, "Well, you know, like the Hilton, the Wyatt Hotel, all around really." Oh yeah, all around Chicago. That makes sense.

He was a cool guy, though, and he did a nice shoe shine. As soon as he finished he said, "All right an' it's eight dolluhs a shoe and I'd appreciate a little tip because dis is how I feed mah family." I knew that one was coming. I didn't have much cash on me but I figured I valued that shoe shine to the tune of $3, so I gave it to him. I reminded him how I didn't want the shoe shine in the first place and how he squirted polish on my shoes while we were talking, so he reluctantly said, "Okay, no, dats cool. You have a nice night, sir."

I felt bad. I had just shined Dan the Shoe Shine Man. But let's face it–if I'm gonna shell out $20 it's going to go towards a new shoe shine set, not Dan's shoe shine shenanigans.

1 comment:

Myriah said...

You're not going back to Dan? But he shines internationally. It's like you don't even know what dat means.