Saturday, January 7, 2012

Humbling Soles

I wear the heck out of boots. I know you're shocked. When I worked in Greenfield I found the best boot repair/revitalization shop. I say revitalization because when we lost Granddad this shop preserved his boots perfectly; when Grandma found hers from when she was 16, they brought them back to life so that I can now wear them - more than 60 years after they were created.

Now that I don't work in the Greenfield area I had a bit of anxiety just thinking of finding someone who will take great care of the soles that mean much to me. This week I took two pairs of boots to get re-soled at a different repair business. I loved walking in the tiny shop; the locals were visiting like it was a diner and the store smelled liked leather with a story to tell - many, I'm sure.

The man who waited on me was probably 75 and had an accent. And luckily, patience....

"Can I help you?" he asked as I stepped up to the wooden counter.

"Yeah, I've got two pairs of boots I've just worn the bottoms off of. I'd like to get these resoled - both pairs. They're just not comfortable anymore," I told him, as I pointed out the wear on the old boots.

He turned both pairs over, running his old, dark hands across every bit of the surface, studying every mark. "These don't need new soles. This pair is fine," he said, pushing them back across the counter to me. "Give them time."

Wow, I thought, I did not expect that accent in this little boot shop. Authentic...I love it. Then he began to really study my favorite boots.

"You write a lot?" he asked, still looking at the boots.

I hesitated....ummm how does he know that simply by looking at my boots? "I'm sorry?" I asked, hoping he'd repeat. I was thoroughly confused.

"You write a lot?"

Wow - he really did ask! "Yes, I actually do..." I was so puzzled.

"What do you write?" - this guy didn't skip a beat.

"Well...mostly just short stories on my blog I guess?" I responded with hesitation. I was wondering if this older man even knew what a blog was. Or...what if he did know what a blog was and he recognized both of these pairs of boots from Jean's Boots Are Made For Talking?! I suddenly got really excited about the conversation we were battling our way through, language barrier and all. Had I found another Jean's Boots reader in a most random place?

For the first time since I walked into the shop the man looked at me. The look on his face was one of complete confusion - like I was speaking a foreign language. Guess he didn't read my blog after all? He was not impressed with my writing habits and I was flat-out confused. I just stood there as he looked back down on his work, still evaluating the boots.

"Yes, I can tell you ride....stirrup has worn boots, especially this area."

Oh. My. Gosh. This whole time he had been asking if I ride horses, not write; he was diagnosing the problems in my boots due the the constant wear from a stirrup. So, when I told him I ride short stories and blogs, I deserved every bit of the confused look and awkwardness coming my way. I didn't have the heart/nerve to tell him I hadn't been on a horse in years.

I don't really know what happened next - I blacked out from the embarrassment and confusion. But I did find a ticket in my purse this morning that said, "Pick up Tues"; guess I get to see him again very soon.

Thank you, old boot repair man, for keeping my soles in working order and my soul humble.

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