On the corner of 16th and Welton a man by the name of Claude has been operating a shoe shine business for eight years. He has a small, tattered shine box and likes to yell at passersby regarding the nature of their footwear. I have been wanting to get a pair of my shoes shined by Claude for a couple of weeks now but he is usually swamped with the Mall lunch rush. Yesterday, I was finally able to get the shine I was desiring. Upon resting my foot on his shine box he immediately went into a sales pitch about a lifetime membership (he normally charges $6 a shine). A suit was skulking behind me with a bag of shoes for Claude to shine. The suit commented that Claude had been shining his shoes for years and he was the best there is. He added that paying a $60 Lifetime fee is money well spent. Claude told me after the suit walked off, “I charge assholes like that twice as much for a ‘lifetime’. For you? I’ll knock it down to $30. But don’t tell nobody.” I haggled him down to $20. Included in my lifetime membership is free shines anytime (plus tip), shoe drop-off (he will shine up to four pairs and call you when they are ready) and free shines for any ladies I bring to the shine box. During my shine Claude dropped some gems:
To a young kid with a pair of beat up brown loafers:
“Damn, man. How long you had them shoes?”
“Two weeks??! Shit. I hate to see what your underwear looks like.”
To a guy walking next to an attractive woman:
“Hey girl. Look how he treat his shoes. You think he gonna treat you any better?”
To a hot Asian woman in a mini-skirt:
“You look like my third ex-wife. I’ve only been married twice.”
As I walked off Claude called to me, “Thanks Lifetime! See you soon.” Indeed, my good man. Indeed.
Claude’s cool, I use to have him do my shoes when I was on that side of downtown.
Now that I work near the crack addicts the ‘lifetime’ offers are slightly less attractive.
Not that I’m judging anyone that wants a $5 BJ from a woman with an adam’s apple and scurvy.
I love that he operates on a sliding scale.
Go for the shine, stay for the social commentary!
Jake: Apparently I was on the low end of the “asshole” part of the scale.
Spotty: $5 slurps from Adam’s apple and scurvy hookers? I smell a Ci$co bashing coming on…
Is there a fancy Claude’s Gold Club membership card? Kind of like a GNC card without the roided, er, supplemented cashier?
I imagine Claude’s is a hastily cutout cardboard piece from a Natural Ice box scribbled in purple Sharpie?
No sign. Just a shine box and him yelling. That’s marketing. I don’t think he offers a gold membership. But I’ll ask him next time.