Dollars and Cents

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This short story is a story of a young boy who lives in a region where life is a constant struggle of survival. A young boy who despite his misfortune is able to move beyond it to display a rich sense of spirit and pride in his work. A young man whose efforts display a style of excellence despite all adversities. To better describe his talent I have refered to him as the "master shoe shine boy" in this story.

Submitted: December 02, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 02, 2011



Dollars and cents

Short Story By: Corpus


As you drive through the small two-way main street of Progreso Mexico you’ll see and hear merchants standing on the side-walk right outside their shops calling in tourist in hopes of luring them in and making a dollar. Along the muddy roads filled with potholes are vendors with wagons selling foods such as steaming hot corn on the cob, kept warm in stainless steel tubs and hot coals, traditional Mexican products and you’ll even find imitation “Coach” handbags and imitation “Gucci” watches to go with the handbag.

 As I stand on the side of the road asking the vendor for a corn on the cob with a bit of butter some mayo and a chili pepper powder known as “Chamoy” I can smell the fumes of the cars passing and if you look across the road you’ll see the same type of set-up with merchants and vendors standing around as tourist walk by.  I am on the east side of the road, when I begin to walk along the crowded sidewalk with hardly any space to walk as it is filled with merchants, people coming and going and those who are stopping to buy. Nevertheless, I walk blissfully enjoying my cob and browsing. 

Then I come to a vendor who is selling avocados, which is one of the items I was hoping to get, so I stop to buy some.  They are selling four big beautiful avocados for five dollars and to go with them I intend to buy some corn tortillas.  If you have ever eaten avocado with a freshly made corn tortilla you know that together they make a delicious and perfect combination. Well, it just so happen behind me is a small tortilla factory that sells freshly made corn tortillas and they smell delicious and go perfect with the avocados, a perfect set up to a done deal.  So I’m standing there waiting as my avocados are being sliced open and stuffed with jalapenos because in case you didn’t know the pit of any fruit or vegetable from Mexico is not allowed back into the United States. 

This is when I see you young boy pass me by.  The young boy looks to be not much older than about 10 years old.  He’s wearing a wrinkled plaid shirt two sizes too small and a pair of jeans that are so short the hem is at his knees and a pair of torn tennis shoes that seem to have been hand me downs for at least two other individuals before him.  I then notice the boy carries in one hand an old shoe shine box that was once red in color as you can still see patches of red on the bare wood surrounding the rest of the box.  In his other hand the boy holds what seems to be a homemade stool made out of left over boards, half nailed in and half bent nails.  I see him looking down as he’s walking then he stops as he has found a prospect.  I hear him ask this tall slender man wearing some nice brown leather shoes if he wants his shoes shined.  The man replies how much and the boy says “Un dollar and dos twenty-five cents”.  He means a dollar fifty, the man says ok so the boy sets down his shoe box and stool as the man stands there waiting.  He pulls out from his shoe shine box a round compact of wax, an old cloth and some shoe shine.  The boy then prompts the man to place his foot on top of the shoe shine box and rolls up his slack.

Then he begins by whipping his cloth that makes a loud snapping sound.  He displays a sense of confidence and mind-set like that of an artist at work who is about to create a master piece.  He grabs the compact and takes a bit of wax from the compact and rubs some on the man’s shoe.  He maneuvers his hands all around the shoe in a circular motion then he stops and whips his cloth once more. I can hear the snap of his cloth as I delight in watching the work of the master shoe shine boy.  The boy then places the center of the cloth on the heel of the shoe and grabs both ends of the cloth.  He pulls the cloth firmly in one direction and then the other without letting it go on either side so that the cloth is rubbing tightly against the shoe.  As the cloth moves in one direction and then the other the wax begins to rub off and a shine in the leather is evident.  He finishes off by using black shine around the sides of the shoe’s sole.  After finishing one shoe he taps the side of the man’s leg and begins his work on the other shoe.  The young man places great importance into detail as he seeks to get every part of the smooth or folded leather designed in the shoe.  Then I hear a voice telling me my avocados are ready and as I conduct my final business I can see the boy finishing up too as I see him drop the man’s rolled up slacks.    

I continue to refer to him as the “master shoe shine boy” every time I speak of him because of the self-importance and perfection he demonstrated while at work.  This was a young man that discerned no regard to his profession yet made evident that gratification came solely from the perfection in his work.   He radiated a sense of pride that goes beyond making a few “dollars and cents” a rare commodity, I might add, not often seen in the streets of this little town.



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