I did something the other day that I rarely do–I polished my shoes. Or, to be more accurate, I polished my sandals, which I wear almost exclusively in the summer. They were scuffed and dirty, and while I wasn’t going to attend any gala balls in them, I just decided it was time to give them a shine. So I dug out the shoeshine shoe box (appropriate, wouldn’t you say?), selected a bottle of Kiwi’s finest quick shine, complete with an attached applicator, and laid on a smooth even coat of wax. Or polish. Or whatever. My sandals looked great! Almost great enough to compensate for my ugly feet.(Not being modest: they are indeed ugly.) Then I was off to whatever occasion had caused me to undertake this rare activity.
I still see shoeshine stands in places like airports and train stations so I suppose that people still shine their shoes or have them shined. I read somewhere that one could judge a man’s character by how well his shoes were shined. I’m not sure of that as a moral index, but it does seem that shining shoes has diminished in popularity in recent years. It could have to do with fewer people wearing leather shoes. When I taught high school, the school required that the students wear leather shoes–no sports shoes or sandals or flip-flops. Many students had to go out and buy a pair. I also spent a good deal of time tying ties for students who never wore one. I didn’t attempt to do this on the student: I tied it on myself and slipped it over my head and put it around the student’s neck. I couldn’t handle the cognitive shift necessary to tie a tie on someone else.
So, shoeshine people. professional or personal, here’s to you. As Dionne Warwick sang, “Keep smiling, keep shining!”