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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Late Rite of Passage

Walking on Bliss street had never been such a complicated task, what with all the 10-year old –or less- mendicants and lottery ticket ‘agents’ or shoe cleaners. For the longest time I felt annoyance at the heavy task of brushing off these pesky and persistent solicitors that seemed to be after nothing other than your money. The annoyance not circling around the money itself, but about the ethics and principles of discouraging the presence of alms-askers and the associated child abuse and whatnot; let me not digress and wander off into these treacherous discussions for now.

So one of my tricky walks along the famous street, while I was looking for that after lunch cup of coffee, got me to Epi D’Or. -Don’t let the name “Epi D’Or” fool you. Fancy name for a place that’s affectionately and more commonly called “Abou Naji”, the little store across the street from the AUB main gate-. Waiting for my coffee, I get elbow-tugged outside by an as-yet unknown figure who turned out to be one of Bliss’ seasoned shoe cleaners


. “Here we go”, I thought to myself. But then, all thought processes angled at getting rid of that annoyance were instantly stopped by the cleaner’s marketing skills… “Eza ma 3ajabak ma tedfa3 wala lira!” Translation “If you don’t like my work don’t pay a dime!”

Said in a convincing and confident tone, these words made me think ok what the hell? My shoes were dirty, hadn’t been cleaned in a while and a good buff would do no harm! So I told the guy to do a good job and he got to work. I have not seen hands move so fast. The sound of swishing as his run down piece of tissue carved through the air and onto the now polished leather told the tale of a shoe cleaning veteran with years of training!

All done, shoes shining, and face smiling as M. took a few snapshots of the event, I was thinking about the going rate on a premium job like this! So I thought 3,000 LBP. M. frowned in disagreement and so I gave him 5,000 LBP.

In retrospect, seeing how his face lit up as he tugged on that bill and all the good wishes for prosperity and long life I got at that time, I know I overpaid! But I would do it again and pay the same price!

But hey. An honest living, a job well done, make me rethink my stance on the good shoe cleaners out there! This is one rite of shoe-cleaning passage not to be soon forgotten!


poshlemon said...

Totally unrelated, but I am so jealous you get to be on Bliss!

Le colleague said...

hehe why is that?

poshlemon said...

Because I am in the US at the moment - well, just until late June :)

Le colleague said...

Oh ok hehe
A couple of months will go by in no time!!

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