FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Toe Shine is No Shine: Finding Meaning in the Munich Airport or The lost art of the shoe shine

I can still remember how the worn wooden handle of my father's horse hair shoeshine brush felt.  I can remember the warm smell of the small circle kiwi wax and I can picture his spotted soft white under shirt used to shine his shoes.  Needless to say plebe summer at the Naval Academy dashed any romantic notions I had regarding the shining of shoes.

I am pretty sure you can ask anyone in the mighty class of 2001 what was the greatest lesson concerning shoe shining learned while at USNA and it would be this:

A toe shine is no shine.

I share all this because a shoe shine stand offers the nostalgia of my youth without the sweaty humid nightmare that was trying to polish my leather black shoes into mirrors each Sunday.  Unfortunately, shoe shine stands are hard to come by nowadays which is a shame.

The shoe shine stand at the airport in Munich is a shining example of the brilliance of this lost art (see what I did there twice).  The gentlemen at the Lufthansa Terminal G had a steady stream of customers the entire afternoon that I was there--and for good reason--he does a phenomenal job.

My sole criticism is that he doesn't have this rather loquacious pricing list translated into any other languages--just jumbled line after line of German.  Here's the gouge, though, go with the polish and treatment that costs 15 Euros.

Two highlights from his routine:

  • He will take out your laces and clean them.  Then at the end he will re-lace your shoes in that certain way they only know how to do at shoe stores.
  • He shoves playing cards into your shoes to protect your shoes
Ultimately the beauty of a good shoe shine is that once you step down from that elevated leather chair--you always find yourself standing a few inches taller.  

Links on shoe shining:

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