I sat back in the bamboo chair and placed my boot on the young
girl's ratty shoeshine box. She sat cross-legged on the
sidewalk and without looking up, she began to brush the toe of
the boot. I watched her dip a dirty cloth into a rusted can of
black Kiwi polish, then carefully use the cloth to buff. When
she was done she stared up at me and said in clipped English,
"Finished. Other shoe please."
It was a poor job. Scuff marks were still present and there was
virtually no shine whatsoever on the leather, so I told her so.
Her eyes welled up.
Later that evening I found a real shoeshine person who used spit
and a light touch to bring my leather boots to a brilliant
luster that caught the bright lights and the flashing colors of
the surrounding neon.
"Ten pesos," the shoeshine guy said, holding out his hand. I
gave it to him and shook my head. It was the first day I'd ever
spent fifty pesos having my boots shined.