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Clients First: The Two Word Miracle by JoAnn Callaway, Joseph Callaway

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A Special Shine

I have seen this pride in the work of others, and some people show the greatest pride in the most menial tasks. I once had my shoes shined at the St. Louis airport. I had flown in for a very important appointment, and my shoes looked scuffed, so I stopped at this man’s one-chair stand, climbed up, and put my foot on the worn metal rest. He was very old and slightly built. He applied the polish with browned fingers that matched my shoes. He talked to himself as he worked, mentioning, for example, how one of my heels was scratched and that he had a special concoction to fix it. As he stropped the shine cloth repeatedly over my toes, he stopped and peered into the finish to see if he could see his reflection.

I asked him about his family, and he said he had three sons, all professionals, and a daughter still in college. She wanted to be an astronaut. Another customer came along, and the old man acknowledged him with a nod and a “Be right with you,” but he didn’t rush to finish my shoes. He concentrated on the job in front of him and gave me the best shine I’ve ever had.

The rest of that day, and for several days after, I thought about that noble gentleman every time I looked at my gleaming shoes. I wondered what dreams he may have had as a young man. I wondered at what those four children might have made of themselves on the streets of St. Louis had it not been for his example. He loved what he did, and it showed. He made me feel special, and though I’ve never returned ...

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