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The School of Life and My Shoes

I arrived early for my job interview in Makati City and I still got two hours to kill before my scheduled time. Bad thing is I forgot to bring a book and the nearby mall is still closed so I think of something to do while waiting. I decided to take a short walk to buy a newspaper. 

Just outside the building, an old shoeshine man sitting on the sidewalk beside a newspaper stand caught my attention. He is carefully arranging his shoeshine paraphernalia like those were his prized possessions. He seemed nice and my shoes badly need a little makeover so I approached him to get my shoes cleaned. I noticed the man’s shoes were full of dusts. How ironic, I ponder how a shoeshine man never cleaned his shoes, yet I didn’t bother asking. He silently cleaned my shoes efficiently and with precision. I just sit there, just observing him, enjoying the elated feeling of being served and of being pampered and respected. I paid him, asked for my ten-peso change and stand up without even asking his name. I didn’t even say thank you. It’s his job anyway. 

The lady and the old shoeshine man

I still got plenty of time so I go to the magazine stand to buy a newspaper. I heard the shoeshine man asking a fortysomething corporate looking lady who were browsing some magazines to shine her shoes. The lady just smiled and declined. But the shoeshine man was persistent, almost pleading.

The smiling lady said something to the shoeshine man, and to my surprise, the shoeshine man stand up and sit down on his customers’ chair while the lady took his place.

I realized that the lady turned the table on this old man and offered to shine his dusty shoes – and pay him 500 pesos to do it. They both smiled and laughed while the man seemed to be excitedly telling his life’s story, as the lady sat on the ground at his feet and cleaned his dusty shoes. Some passersby looked at them bewildered. The newspaper vendor and some of his customers smiled too.

But I felt different. A wave of emotion hit me and for a moment I held back. I quickly returned to the building to read my newspaper but I can’t focus. The old man’s face, smiling as if nobody ever shined his shoes before, keeps flashing on my mind. Why did I deny that shoeshine man’s moment of joy?

I kept staring at my shining shoes – assailed by conflicting emotions, there was neither shame nor remorse.

"Change your heart!" said my shoes

To give importance, to treat others as an equal, to appreciate simple things, even if only for a moment which is very easy to give, was that lady’s gift that I will long remember every time I will wear my shoes.

It will always remind me that if we change our heart, then look at the world, the world would be a happy place to live.

By the way, I didn’t passed the job interview, but I learned an important life's lesson.  


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