Friday, June 3, 2011

High shine

It was a household rule when I was growing up in England that school shoes were cleaned every Sunday evening. In fact this chore was one of my first encounters with New Zealand, via the shoe-polish lid. (The other was Kia-Ora orange squash.)

The result of this childhood training is that while I love the look of well-nourished leather and feel distressed when I see it starving to death, I hate polishing my shoes. 
Sometimes, if the sun is shining and I'm in the right mood, I'll line up all my non-suede footwear on the outside table, don latex gloves and set to work. But I'd really much rather perch on a high chair at a street corner, as I did in Buenos Aires, and have someone else do them for me.
Don't misunderstand me - I'm well aware this kind of low-overhead entrepreneurism is indicative of under-employment, makes at best only a marginal living, and isn't any kind of a career. But I do think there's a niche for a smart young person to set up a stall on, say, Lambton Quay. There'd be no shortage of customers and I reckon it would make more money than playing the guitar badly before an upturned hat.

Street-corner shoeshine stall, Buenos Aires

The owner of this stall was stationed outside a bank where the ATMs were out of commission, and he had taken it upon himself to explain this to every frustrated user. Meanwhile, he polished my old boots to a startling shine.  The pictures of Jesus and, I assumed, his mother and children were splattered with blacking, but every day  he must prop them up there amidst the tins, clothes and brushes. Perhaps to remind him why he works so diligently for so little reward.

No comments:

Post a Comment