|The Master of Shoe Repair|
After exchanging greetings, the owner, who peered at me through rheumy eyes, politely asked me what I was looking for: “Senor, que busca?” I held up some shoelaces that were dirty and ready to fall apart and asked if he carried any spares. As he told me that he doesn’t normally carry shoelaces, he started looking under piles of leather squares and in the many bins placed beneath the counter. He kept looking, while explaining that the money was in the service of repairing shoes not in selling spare shoelaces. He kept looking and repeated this to me as if to reinforce that he was losing money just by helping me. Just as I thought he was going to reiterate this idea again, he found a pair of laces that looked to be about the same size. While they were just as dirty as mine, they were in good shape so I said I’d take them. I paid him the equivalent of a dollar. Yes, it was too much for pair of dirty shoelaces in the Andes, but I figured I’d paid for the right not to hear him complain again.