Alex the Shoeshiner
Originally uploaded by lools.
Small things can make a highly stressful New York workday a little less manic. On Wednesdays I relieve my boots of all the soot and grime collected over the week by getting them shoeshined at my own desk. Now that's a luxury only Manhattanites probably experience given our obsession with grooming!
The shoeshine boy who does the rounds of our floor every week is a Brazilian chap called Alex who has been in the States for almost ten years now. He came as a tourist and upon the recommendation and connections of a friend decided to be a corporate shoeshiner - that's his profession now! And he gets enough business from the entire building of one big Madison Avenue agency and a few floors of another Park Avenue South one to eke out a living in the Big Apple. Wow, pretty impressive, huh? You look at him and you'd never guess that he shoeshines all day.
While Alex polishes my boots, I listen to stories about how he wants to go back to Brazil soon. He jokes about becoming the next President of Brazil like Lula given his shoeshine background! The primary reason Alex cites for returning home is the brutal New York winter. We chat about the cold and how depressing it is. My office has no heating this week so I'm really feeling the pain. We exchange stories about the hot summers and extremeley mild winters in Brazil and India. Before I know it my shoes are shiny and I'm at least smiling thinking about ice cold caipirinhas and beaches having momentarily forgotten about my jammed inbox and all the emails requiring attention. Sigh, back to work I guess. What a luxurious distraction that was.