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‘Hey, Pretty Lady!’

A few weeks ago, I had some time to kill at Boston’s Logan Airport before a flight to Denver, and eventually to Santa Barbara. I’ve taken the same, lonely trip a dozen times or so, and it’s always a tiring day that reminds me again how profoundly disappointed I am that the seven-league boots I coveted as a kid still aren’t commercially produced. They would, after all, make travel so much more palatable. And quicker.

Today was a quiet Tuesday in the terminal, and nothing there (a sundries shop, a TBCY staffed by a yawning clerk) seemed to hold much in the way of a half-hour’s distraction. But as I cased the concourse, the guy who operated the shoeshine stand caught my eye and called out to me, “Hey, Pretty Lady!” he said. “Look at those boots! You need shoe shine!”

If you’ve been in a major municipal airport, in a larger, older US city like Boston, New York, Chicago or DC, you know what I’m talking about: those ancient wooden platforms with two or three seats in a row and a series of brass foot rests beneath, lined up like gold teeth in an old man’s jaw. The chairs themselves are usually oak and sometimes carved, with ancient gummy crud collected in the relief.
Today, the structures seem quaintly and oddly out of place, the stands solidly unchanging even as the terminals around them unanimously get a fresh update with modern glass, tile and better lighting. Many of the stands were likely set in place when the terminals were first built in the 1920s, when commercial air travel started to become viable, anchoring them in an era when most travelers wore the kinds of shoes that regularly needed a good, stiff shining.

Only I wasn’t necessarily thinking about that as the shoeshine man called out to me. Instead, I looked down at my boots, which weren’t of the seven-league variety but plain brown leather and—he was right—quite scuffed. I thought the scrapes and bruises emphasized the mannishness of the flat soles and battered, rounded toes. I’d never gotten a shoe shine before—had never considered it, really—but impulsively I marched my scuffed boots over to him for some shoeshine magic.

The shoeshine guy was 50-ish, wiry and dark. His name was George, he said, which he pronounced with a thick accent I couldn’t quite place. He wiped his stained hands on a rag tucked at his waist, shook my hand firmly, and graciously swept his hand aside with a bit of an exaggerated flourish, inviting me to climb up the three steps to the platform. My perch was a wooden box about three feet in the air, with two wooden chairs planted at the top, their backs to the wall, overlooking the concourse.

George was a gentleman, and charming, and so the whole business of a shoeshine seemed very decorous and old-fashioned. It was also a minor extravagance. Though not expensive, it was a kind of pampering. Since I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself, I decided I deserved it.
“Here you go, Lady,” George said, gesturing up the stairs. The first step up to the platform was surprisingly broad and steep, and that kind of threw me: I suddenly felt like a kindergartener charging up the school bus steps on the first day, faking bravado but ultimately unsure of where to place her foot to cleanly clear the next riser. I was certain I would trip, but I didn’t. Instead I took the stairs awkwardly, placing each step a little too deliberately, like a drunk trying to fake sober.

“Now sit,” he said, motioning for me to take a chair and place one foot on each brass footrest, shaped to look like the sole of a shoe, but smaller, like the footprint a child might leave in wet cement. He eyeballed the leather of my boots and turned to choose a matching polish, whistling.

When I placed one foot onto a tiny foot rest I again felt a sudden wave of unease: The Left and Right foot rests were just far enough from each other to force my legs apart at an unnatural, open air straddle. It wouldn’t be a way I’d ever sit, straight-backed and open-legged, and especially not mounted as I was on a platform. It harkened a visit to the gynecologist; I half expected George to invite me to relax, lean back and let my knees drop open. Then I noticed the swinging door to my right as it popped open: Why hadn’t I noticed that the platform was set next to the men’s restroom?

George brushed on the boot polish. He worked quickly and efficiently, his hands fluttering over the leather, his tea-colored arms surprisingly sinewy. Then he set to the polishing part, and I felt the years of vigor in those arms. The first stiff sweep with his bristled brush knocked my foot clean off its rest. “Oh… sorry!” I sputtered, repositioning my boot back on the miniature footprint. I spent the rest of the time finding the correct little-used muscles in my thighs and calves to counter his surprisingly strong side-swipes. I gripped the tacky sides of the ancient oak seat, and tried to brace myself against George’s strokes.

All the while, George was unperturbed. If he sensed that he had a virgin on the platform, he was too kind to mention it. He chatted as he worked, about his wife, and kids, and grandkids, about his life in Ecuador that he had left 10 years ago to come to Boston.

“The beautiful place, Ecuador,” he said. “You know it? You been…?

“Oh…” he said, sounding disappointed, when I said I hadn’t. He drew a map in the air of where it sat in South America, next to Columbia and Peru. “But you must go, Lady. You must.”

If you were a guy exiting the men’s restroom on my right, I thought, you wouldn’t notice anything unusual—just a woman getting a shoeshine from a talkative shoeshine guy.

Or now, looking back, perhaps you would.

Because as I sat there, hovering with my groin head-level with George, feeling some cramping begin to creep into my shin from the tension of pressing the souls of my shoes onto the tiny foot rest, and already worrying about the dismount, it occurred to me that I must have walked by hundreds of these shoeshine stands, in at least a dozen or so airports around the world, with customers at one, two, or sometimes three of the seats, reading newspapers, or talking on their cell phones, or whatever.

And yet I had never, ever seen a woman getting a shoeshine here, like this. Now, I get why.

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89 Responses to ‘Hey, Pretty Lady!’

  1. Connie Reece says:

    Thank you for this public service announcement, Ann. I’ve been tempted to stop and get my shoes shined when I see these relics from the past; the old wooden and brass stands make me nostalgic. But I’m usually in too much hurry, so I think, “one of these days. . .” Now I’ll know better.

  2. Connie Reece says:

    Thank you for this public service announcement, Ann. I’ve been tempted to stop and get my shoes shined when I see these relics from the past; the old wooden and brass stands make me nostalgic. But I’m usually in too much hurry, so I think, “one of these days. . .” Now I’ll know better.

  3. Bdot says:

    I’ve had the same experiance getting my shoes shined, and I’ve never been to a gyno.
    Next time your in the airport wear Converse, George won’t even speak to you.

  4. Bdot says:

    I’ve had the same experiance getting my shoes shined, and I’ve never been to a gyno.
    Next time your in the airport wear Converse, George won’t even speak to you.

  5. Gradon says:

    When I first clicked the link, I thought is was going to be some reference to Jerry Lewis (“Hey, Lady!”). I’ve actually never paid to get my shoes shined – I just do it myself. Maybe I’ll look for George the next time I fly out – is he in the Delta terminal?

  6. Gradon says:

    When I first clicked the link, I thought is was going to be some reference to Jerry Lewis (“Hey, Lady!”). I’ve actually never paid to get my shoes shined – I just do it myself. Maybe I’ll look for George the next time I fly out – is he in the Delta terminal?

  7. Beccy says:

    Well I always thought I wanted a shoe-shine until I read your bit. Your set up was beautiful. The minute you started to describe the stirrups…I mean foot rests, I realized that this is a function of a former man’s world into which women do not need to cross. But then again, a man may be able to handle a genital exam much better if they put him in the stirrups…it will be “just like a shoe-shine, boy”.

  8. Beccy says:

    Well I always thought I wanted a shoe-shine until I read your bit. Your set up was beautiful. The minute you started to describe the stirrups…I mean foot rests, I realized that this is a function of a former man’s world into which women do not need to cross. But then again, a man may be able to handle a genital exam much better if they put him in the stirrups…it will be “just like a shoe-shine, boy”.

  9. Cam Beck says:

    What’s funny is that until you explained it, I would have never thought something as innocuous (to me) as a shoe shine would have an affect other than what was intended.

    Beccy – ROFL!!

  10. Cam Beck says:

    What’s funny is that until you explained it, I would have never thought something as innocuous (to me) as a shoe shine would have an affect other than what was intended.

    Beccy – ROFL!!

  11. Lewis Green says:

    Ann,

    Wonderful writing set into a scene I’ve passed by off but never much noticed until today.

  12. Lewis Green says:

    Ann,

    Wonderful writing set into a scene I’ve passed by off but never much noticed until today.

  13. Annie –

    Brilliant. Incidentally, how much did the pretty lady compliment influence your decision to shine those scuffed boots?

    Loved the post – I’m linking it to Live Path.
    Leigh

  14. Annie –

    Brilliant. Incidentally, how much did the pretty lady compliment influence your decision to shine those scuffed boots?

    Loved the post – I’m linking it to Live Path.
    Leigh

  15. Christian Gulliksen says:

    Who needs entertainment when you can follow Ann “Pretty Lady” Handley around?

  16. Christian Gulliksen says:

    Who needs entertainment when you can follow Ann “Pretty Lady” Handley around?

  17. Tim Brunelle says:

    I commuted between Logan and LaGuardia for two years. A friend hipped me to guys like George, and then it became part of the routine — print ticket, go through security, get a coffee, shine shoes, get on the plane.

    The shoes I got shined every week lasted A LOT longer than my other shoes. And oddly enough, people do seem to notice a well shined pair of shoes. Perhaps enviously?

    Wonderful writing here. I must subscribe to this blog.

  18. Tim Brunelle says:

    I commuted between Logan and LaGuardia for two years. A friend hipped me to guys like George, and then it became part of the routine — print ticket, go through security, get a coffee, shine shoes, get on the plane.

    The shoes I got shined every week lasted A LOT longer than my other shoes. And oddly enough, people do seem to notice a well shined pair of shoes. Perhaps enviously?

    Wonderful writing here. I must subscribe to this blog.

  19. Sharon says:

    All pretty and shiny on the outside. Like you’ve stepped into and out of an alternate universe or…I know…a cartoon,right? Go have a drink–you deserve one. I love the writing, thanks for this.

  20. Sharon says:

    All pretty and shiny on the outside. Like you’ve stepped into and out of an alternate universe or…I know…a cartoon,right? Go have a drink–you deserve one. I love the writing, thanks for this.

  21. Ann, absolutely priceless! You’ve set a new standard for the shoe-shine experience.

  22. Ann, absolutely priceless! You’ve set a new standard for the shoe-shine experience.

  23. Shelley says:

    Oh my gosh… is there a business opportunity here? I know some airports are adding nail salons and massage stations as services for travellers with time on their hands. Maybe it’s time to launch a “women’s executive shoe care” kiosk, too. Sans stirrups. ; ]

  24. Shelley says:

    Oh my gosh… is there a business opportunity here? I know some airports are adding nail salons and massage stations as services for travellers with time on their hands. Maybe it’s time to launch a “women’s executive shoe care” kiosk, too. Sans stirrups. ; ]

  25. Toad says:

    Very funny story Ann.

    Growing up in NYC, shoeshine guys were very much a part of growing up. But I remember the first time I approached one on my own– it was when I was working a summer job in college, the first time I had to wear anything other than jeans to work, and I remember going through the same rounds of nerves as I approached a ritual where everyone around me seemed to know exactly what to do: climbing into the oversize chair, feeling my feet slip off the stirrup-like things, not knowing whether I was supposed to bury myself behind the Post that was sitting there or watch the guy who was shining my shoes.

    I’ve grown to quite enjoy professional shoes shines though–think of it as the male version ofa pedicure. And to Tim’s point- it does help your shoes last longer.

    Or at least I like to pretend it does. It justifies the expense for me ;)

  26. Toad says:

    Very funny story Ann.

    Growing up in NYC, shoeshine guys were very much a part of growing up. But I remember the first time I approached one on my own– it was when I was working a summer job in college, the first time I had to wear anything other than jeans to work, and I remember going through the same rounds of nerves as I approached a ritual where everyone around me seemed to know exactly what to do: climbing into the oversize chair, feeling my feet slip off the stirrup-like things, not knowing whether I was supposed to bury myself behind the Post that was sitting there or watch the guy who was shining my shoes.

    I’ve grown to quite enjoy professional shoes shines though–think of it as the male version ofa pedicure. And to Tim’s point- it does help your shoes last longer.

    Or at least I like to pretend it does. It justifies the expense for me ;)

  27. Matt Dickman says:

    For me it’s like a pedicure must be to my wife. I try to go once a week here in the office and I almost always do so at the airport. It’s very relaxing for me at this point in time, but your story reminds me of the first couple of times I tried it. I didn’t know what to do, I felt like people were looking at me and my foot kept slipping off the rest. Too funny Ann!

  28. Matt Dickman says:

    For me it’s like a pedicure must be to my wife. I try to go once a week here in the office and I almost always do so at the airport. It’s very relaxing for me at this point in time, but your story reminds me of the first couple of times I tried it. I didn’t know what to do, I felt like people were looking at me and my foot kept slipping off the rest. Too funny Ann!

  29. Dan Schawbel says:

    You are an amazing writer Ann. I really hope this blog turns into a book. The detail you used made me feel like I was there.

    Great stuff,

    Dan

  30. Dan Schawbel says:

    You are an amazing writer Ann. I really hope this blog turns into a book. The detail you used made me feel like I was there.

    Great stuff,

    Dan

  31. Dusan says:

    And the old man and a lady changed the way airports will be visited from now on by women. :-) Made my dinner better this time. :-)

  32. Dusan says:

    And the old man and a lady changed the way airports will be visited from now on by women. :-) Made my dinner better this time. :-)

  33. Mack Collier says:

    “Incidentally, how much did the pretty lady compliment influence your decision to shine those scuffed boots?”

    This is the payoff I was waiting to hear about ;)

  34. Mack Collier says:

    “Incidentally, how much did the pretty lady compliment influence your decision to shine those scuffed boots?”

    This is the payoff I was waiting to hear about ;)

  35. Lisa Mac says:

    I’ve bolted or leisurely strolled through many an airport (depending on the tardiness of connecting flights) and I must say I’ve only seen one woman getting her shoes shined. At JFK, of course. She definitely stood out in my mind.

    What kind of shoes is she wearing? Are they pumps? How can she run from one gate to another if they are? If I didn’t have suede shoes on today, maybe I could get a shoe shine too.

    Random thoughts, but for some reason I remember them all just by seeing that rare woman sitting on that platform.

    I’m most impressed with the fact that you wore boots through security (I’m all about efficiency when I travel!) but I guess you can’t get away with wearing flip flops in Boston like you can when you’re going through Tucson International Airport!

  36. Lisa Mac says:

    I’ve bolted or leisurely strolled through many an airport (depending on the tardiness of connecting flights) and I must say I’ve only seen one woman getting her shoes shined. At JFK, of course. She definitely stood out in my mind.

    What kind of shoes is she wearing? Are they pumps? How can she run from one gate to another if they are? If I didn’t have suede shoes on today, maybe I could get a shoe shine too.

    Random thoughts, but for some reason I remember them all just by seeing that rare woman sitting on that platform.

    I’m most impressed with the fact that you wore boots through security (I’m all about efficiency when I travel!) but I guess you can’t get away with wearing flip flops in Boston like you can when you’re going through Tucson International Airport!

  37. Toby says:

    Lewis’ comment is so spot on. I eat up your writing like jelly beans savoring the intense flavor of each post.

    When I was a little girl I would watch my dad get his shoes shined. It was a treat to sit on that high seat which felt like I was ‘princess of the mountain’ .. but never my shoes never got shined .. now I know why!

    What I would Love to see is nail salons in airports. With the 2-hour waiting we have to do I bet they would be a gold mine.

  38. Toby says:

    Lewis’ comment is so spot on. I eat up your writing like jelly beans savoring the intense flavor of each post.

    When I was a little girl I would watch my dad get his shoes shined. It was a treat to sit on that high seat which felt like I was ‘princess of the mountain’ .. but never my shoes never got shined .. now I know why!

    What I would Love to see is nail salons in airports. With the 2-hour waiting we have to do I bet they would be a gold mine.

  39. Ann Handley says:

    Damn. So many great comments here — thanks, all! Totally loved each and every response… seriously.

    Connie: Love your framing as a “PSA.” Wish I thought of that.. since I struggled with the title and could have use it!

    Bdot: The Converse issue is interesting. I can’t believe the shoeshine guys can make enough on the traveling business types — well, MEN — considering the number of Converse and others I see in the airport. Is Platform rent cheap, I wonder?

    Gradon — George was in United. But I do love that Delta terminal, as you know!

    Beccy — LOVED that comment.. ! Rolling all over…

    Cam & Lewis — Funny thing is.. I honestly didn’t think this was much of a post when I started writing it. How much is there to say about getting your shoes shined…? But 1,000 words later… well, I guess I found something to talk about.

    Leigh & Mack — I’ve thought about that: if George hadn’t approached me directly, and flattered me, would I have succumbed? Probably not. That said, I do have a weak spot for individuals like him, eeking out a living (in his case) literally on the fringe. Next time, though, I take off my boots right there and he gets them one by one…!

  40. Ann Handley says:

    Damn. So many great comments here — thanks, all! Totally loved each and every response… seriously.

    Connie: Love your framing as a “PSA.” Wish I thought of that.. since I struggled with the title and could have use it!

    Bdot: The Converse issue is interesting. I can’t believe the shoeshine guys can make enough on the traveling business types — well, MEN — considering the number of Converse and others I see in the airport. Is Platform rent cheap, I wonder?

    Gradon — George was in United. But I do love that Delta terminal, as you know!

    Beccy — LOVED that comment.. ! Rolling all over…

    Cam & Lewis — Funny thing is.. I honestly didn’t think this was much of a post when I started writing it. How much is there to say about getting your shoes shined…? But 1,000 words later… well, I guess I found something to talk about.

    Leigh & Mack — I’ve thought about that: if George hadn’t approached me directly, and flattered me, would I have succumbed? Probably not. That said, I do have a weak spot for individuals like him, eeking out a living (in his case) literally on the fringe. Next time, though, I take off my boots right there and he gets them one by one…!

  41. Ann Handley says:

    Christian — I knew you’d comment FINALLY… : )

    Tim & Toad — I’m sure they do last longer. George said that the wax protects them from the water shoes and boots would otherwise absorb in winter. Makes sense, yeah?

    Sharon, CB, Dan — Thanks, friends, for the support!

    Shelley — For a sec I was a little worried that the “new business opp” you were suggesting was concourse gynocological care… not female shoe-shining. Now THAT would be a time-saver!

    Toad — You hit on something there. I felt like an incredible novice anyway — as a virgin shoeshine patron. But compounding my awkwardness was an utter realization that this was one relic that a woman really COULDN’T participate in, without extreme discomfort. Or maybe it’s just me.

  42. Ann Handley says:

    Christian — I knew you’d comment FINALLY… : )

    Tim & Toad — I’m sure they do last longer. George said that the wax protects them from the water shoes and boots would otherwise absorb in winter. Makes sense, yeah?

    Sharon, CB, Dan — Thanks, friends, for the support!

    Shelley — For a sec I was a little worried that the “new business opp” you were suggesting was concourse gynocological care… not female shoe-shining. Now THAT would be a time-saver!

    Toad — You hit on something there. I felt like an incredible novice anyway — as a virgin shoeshine patron. But compounding my awkwardness was an utter realization that this was one relic that a woman really COULDN’T participate in, without extreme discomfort. Or maybe it’s just me.

  43. Ann Handley says:

    Matt – Funny comparison to a pedicure. But I assure you — a pedicure is WAY more relaxing! Let’s start with the lack of a platform…..

    Dusan — Thanks for stopping by.. as always.

    Toby — THANKS, thanks, thanks.. great image of you, too, as a little girl up there.

    Lisa — You are one female I might have thought would have done the shoeshine gig. The boots, BTW, are Blundstones, which are easy to kick on an off.. hence my choice for airport-wear… As for flip-flops in Boston in winter… yeah, I WISH girl….

  44. Ann Handley says:

    Matt – Funny comparison to a pedicure. But I assure you — a pedicure is WAY more relaxing! Let’s start with the lack of a platform…..

    Dusan — Thanks for stopping by.. as always.

    Toby — THANKS, thanks, thanks.. great image of you, too, as a little girl up there.

    Lisa — You are one female I might have thought would have done the shoeshine gig. The boots, BTW, are Blundstones, which are easy to kick on an off.. hence my choice for airport-wear… As for flip-flops in Boston in winter… yeah, I WISH girl….

  45. Great story! But how did your boots look when he was all done? Was it worth the discomfort?

  46. Great story! But how did your boots look when he was all done? Was it worth the discomfort?

  47. Ann Handley says:

    Nedra — Not really. I mean, yeah.. they looked good. But worth it? Depends on the metric you’re using, as the marketers say. For the money — absolutely. I was more than happy to give George the ten bucks for his work. That said, the discomfort was ridiculous.

    The next time I’ll take the boots OFF and hand them to George or whoever.. and wait with my stocking feet planted firmly on the ground.

  48. Ann Handley says:

    Nedra — Not really. I mean, yeah.. they looked good. But worth it? Depends on the metric you’re using, as the marketers say. For the money — absolutely. I was more than happy to give George the ten bucks for his work. That said, the discomfort was ridiculous.

    The next time I’ll take the boots OFF and hand them to George or whoever.. and wait with my stocking feet planted firmly on the ground.

  49. Warren says:

    Not to be redundant, but you really do have a way with words. Leave all of the marketing drivel to the rest of us hacks and focus on the good stuff. Your article made me homesick for the shoe shine that I would always get in Logan’s terminal C on the way out of town. Like Tim and Matt said, it was something to always look forward to, kind of therapeutic like a manicure or a spa.

    And your boots look Mahvelous!

  50. Warren says:

    Not to be redundant, but you really do have a way with words. Leave all of the marketing drivel to the rest of us hacks and focus on the good stuff. Your article made me homesick for the shoe shine that I would always get in Logan’s terminal C on the way out of town. Like Tim and Matt said, it was something to always look forward to, kind of therapeutic like a manicure or a spa.

    And your boots look Mahvelous!

  51. Ann,

    You have uncovered one of men’s guilty secrets. There is a decadent pleasure in the airport shoe shine.

    I think it’s a blend of indulgence and pampering mixed with the lingering memory of the men we used to see getting a shine…and how we probably thought they looked important in their nice suits and fancy shoes.

    If I am flying and know I have a decent layover, I’ll purposely wear shoes that can be shined. Just for the fun of it.

    It puts a little pep in my walk for some reason. But that alone is worth the $10.

    Drew

  52. Ann,

    You have uncovered one of men’s guilty secrets. There is a decadent pleasure in the airport shoe shine.

    I think it’s a blend of indulgence and pampering mixed with the lingering memory of the men we used to see getting a shine…and how we probably thought they looked important in their nice suits and fancy shoes.

    If I am flying and know I have a decent layover, I’ll purposely wear shoes that can be shined. Just for the fun of it.

    It puts a little pep in my walk for some reason. But that alone is worth the $10.

    Drew

  53. Toad says:

    Ha! I wear Blundstones on planes for the exact same reason- they’re comfortable, easy to kick off and work for a variety of purposes once I get where I’m going.

    And I never know whether to get them shined or not: they’re the kind of boots that sort of look better a bit scuffed, but then I’m always glad when I do get them polished.

  54. Toad says:

    Ha! I wear Blundstones on planes for the exact same reason- they’re comfortable, easy to kick off and work for a variety of purposes once I get where I’m going.

    And I never know whether to get them shined or not: they’re the kind of boots that sort of look better a bit scuffed, but then I’m always glad when I do get them polished.

  55. Ann Handley says:

    Warren & Drew – Thanks for stopping by. It;s funny how many guys dig a good stiff shoeshine, huh!? Who knew?

    Toad — Exactly! Love my Blunnies. (Mannish or not.)

  56. Ann Handley says:

    Warren & Drew – Thanks for stopping by. It;s funny how many guys dig a good stiff shoeshine, huh!? Who knew?

    Toad — Exactly! Love my Blunnies. (Mannish or not.)

  57. Peter Kim says:

    OK, so to your point about shoe shine customers usually being male…on rare occasions, I’ve noticed female shoe shiners. There was/is one in the State Street building, where I used to park for $500 a month (thankfully I switched jobs) and I think there was a stand at CES (might have been a different conference) where the “call to action” was more overt. In the case of the latter – to your point about positioning – this is exactly what was being marketed, reversing the genders. However, I’m flying out again today and badly need a shine – so I’m going to conveniently forget that I ever read this post!

  58. Peter Kim says:

    OK, so to your point about shoe shine customers usually being male…on rare occasions, I’ve noticed female shoe shiners. There was/is one in the State Street building, where I used to park for $500 a month (thankfully I switched jobs) and I think there was a stand at CES (might have been a different conference) where the “call to action” was more overt. In the case of the latter – to your point about positioning – this is exactly what was being marketed, reversing the genders. However, I’m flying out again today and badly need a shine – so I’m going to conveniently forget that I ever read this post!

  59. Liz Laneri says:

    I loved this story! I have always noticed the ‘shoeshine man’ in almost every airport I’ve ever been in. I’ve always wondered how they always seem to have business, partly because it seems so old fashioned. But to your point, I haven’t noticed up until your blog posting, that there are never any women! I think I might give it a whirl next time I’m at Logan…just for the experience as well :)

  60. Liz Laneri says:

    I loved this story! I have always noticed the ‘shoeshine man’ in almost every airport I’ve ever been in. I’ve always wondered how they always seem to have business, partly because it seems so old fashioned. But to your point, I haven’t noticed up until your blog posting, that there are never any women! I think I might give it a whirl next time I’m at Logan…just for the experience as well :)

  61. Ann,

    A great twist; how it feels to suddenly enter the world of another gender. Never would have thought about a woman’s reaction to a shoe shine…this is priceless. I’d probably feel just about as awkward getting a manicure or something…it’s tough enough buying lingerie for my wife!

  62. Ann,

    A great twist; how it feels to suddenly enter the world of another gender. Never would have thought about a woman’s reaction to a shoe shine…this is priceless. I’d probably feel just about as awkward getting a manicure or something…it’s tough enough buying lingerie for my wife!

  63. Scott Monty says:

    Ann,

    Others have said it above, but I’m not averse to piling on here: you really have a talent for writing. You set the scene with some very powerful descriptions and made me feel like I was back at the airport.

    I’ve always enjoyed getting my shoes shined – I often find that I’m lulled into a state of relaxation by the rhythmic rubbing & polishing that’s like a foot massage. I too find the shoe stands a little awkward, and I stand about 6′ tall – I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you, as petite as you are.

    I think your anecdote here leads to a larger issue: how frequently we simply take certain things for granted and miss the perspective of another. Thanks for taking a questionable experience and translating it into something half-humorous, half-tragic and wholly understandable.

  64. Scott Monty says:

    Ann,

    Others have said it above, but I’m not averse to piling on here: you really have a talent for writing. You set the scene with some very powerful descriptions and made me feel like I was back at the airport.

    I’ve always enjoyed getting my shoes shined – I often find that I’m lulled into a state of relaxation by the rhythmic rubbing & polishing that’s like a foot massage. I too find the shoe stands a little awkward, and I stand about 6′ tall – I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you, as petite as you are.

    I think your anecdote here leads to a larger issue: how frequently we simply take certain things for granted and miss the perspective of another. Thanks for taking a questionable experience and translating it into something half-humorous, half-tragic and wholly understandable.

  65. Uwe Hook says:

    Wonderful writing and impressive observational skills.

    I never got my shoe shined, (Except in a hotel when somebody picks up my shoes.) I would love to but it’s just not in my genes. I feel very uncomfortable when I pay somebody to do a task that I don’t want to do. It was such a big deal for me to hire weekly maid service. The first few months, I cleaned and organized the whole house just to make sure that the maid doesn’t have too much to do. My wife was just shaking her hand, not understanding that I feel slightly embarassed to ask people to do these job. I cut down on my pre-cleaning considerably but I still scan the house and fix things before she shows up. Same goes for gardening work, pedicures and, yes, shoe shines. I think I would feel better if I’d pay for a shoe shine $20. But, for that money, I do it myself.

  66. Uwe Hook says:

    Wonderful writing and impressive observational skills.

    I never got my shoe shined, (Except in a hotel when somebody picks up my shoes.) I would love to but it’s just not in my genes. I feel very uncomfortable when I pay somebody to do a task that I don’t want to do. It was such a big deal for me to hire weekly maid service. The first few months, I cleaned and organized the whole house just to make sure that the maid doesn’t have too much to do. My wife was just shaking her hand, not understanding that I feel slightly embarassed to ask people to do these job. I cut down on my pre-cleaning considerably but I still scan the house and fix things before she shows up. Same goes for gardening work, pedicures and, yes, shoe shines. I think I would feel better if I’d pay for a shoe shine $20. But, for that money, I do it myself.

  67. anne simons says:

    hey ann: love the post—-and the blog, especially your ‘about’ page. you’re just so new englandy!

  68. anne simons says:

    hey ann: love the post—-and the blog, especially your ‘about’ page. you’re just so new englandy!

  69. I wish I could experience having my shoe shined by another guy. There aren’t any shoeshine guys in our country or any country I visited. It’s always a hassle to have to shine your shoes in the morning especially when you are in a rush and still have to wrestle with the city traffic.

  70. I wish I could experience having my shoe shined by another guy. There aren’t any shoeshine guys in our country or any country I visited. It’s always a hassle to have to shine your shoes in the morning especially when you are in a rush and still have to wrestle with the city traffic.

  71. danna Call says:

    I had a shoe shine guy once try to get me to have my sneakers shined. I guess he was having a slow day. I felt your horror when you described the stirrups.

  72. danna Call says:

    I had a shoe shine guy once try to get me to have my sneakers shined. I guess he was having a slow day. I felt your horror when you described the stirrups.

  73. kari peterson says:

    Hello. Don’t know you, haven’t ever been here; got the link on twitter from a friend of yours.

    But.. wow. This is very funny. You are a gifted writer.

  74. kari peterson says:

    Hello. Don’t know you, haven’t ever been here; got the link on twitter from a friend of yours.

    But.. wow. This is very funny. You are a gifted writer.

  75. Jim Sutton says:

    I saw this was listed on your website as a “Most Popular” and I can see why. It’s hilarious and awkward enough to make anyone reading it feel some of your discomfort. Your writings deserve a “Collected Blogs” volume. Are there any collections of blogs printed? Jim

  76. Jim Sutton says:

    I saw this was listed on your website as a “Most Popular” and I can see why. It’s hilarious and awkward enough to make anyone reading it feel some of your discomfort. Your writings deserve a “Collected Blogs” volume. Are there any collections of blogs printed? Jim

  77. Ann Handley says:

    I dunno, Jim. But maybe someday I’ll see if that’s an option!

  78. Ann Handley says:

    I dunno, Jim. But maybe someday I’ll see if that’s an option!

  79. sarah says:

    i’ve always wanted seven league boots, too! if you find some, let me know and maybe we’ll talk them into a two-for-one deal…

    beautiful writing, btw!

  80. sarah says:

    i’ve always wanted seven league boots, too! if you find some, let me know and maybe we’ll talk them into a two-for-one deal…

    beautiful writing, btw!

  81. MightyMouth says:

    Ann, this took me back to my early years @ NBC – there was a shoe shine guy, an elderly Italian gent named Sal, who went from office to office shining the wingtips & loafers of the executive suite.

    He was also happy to shine the shoes of secretaries – including me.

    Shoeshine stands are still being placed in new air terminals (like the spankin’ new one @ RIC, my home airport).

    I’ve never experienced the gyno-moment you did, although I have never ascended the shoe-shine throne in anything but pants. A skirt or dress would be a little too Basic Instinct, n’est pas?

    But this took me right back to those days long ago, as Sal-the-Shine-Man shined my shoes at my desk.

    Now, go listen to Ry Cooder’s “Get Rhythm”…

  82. Ann, this took me back to my early years @ NBC – there was a shoe shine guy, an elderly Italian gent named Sal, who went from office to office shining the wingtips & loafers of the executive suite.

    He was also happy to shine the shoes of secretaries – including me.

    Shoeshine stands are still being placed in new air terminals (like the spankin’ new one @ RIC, my home airport).

    I’ve never experienced the gyno-moment you did, although I have never ascended the shoe-shine throne in anything but pants. A skirt or dress would be a little too Basic Instinct, n’est pas?

    But this took me right back to those days long ago, as Sal-the-Shine-Man shined my shoes at my desk.

    Now, go listen to Ry Cooder’s “Get Rhythm”…

  83. Carport says:

    Hey all I love the writing, thanks for this….

  84. Carport says:

    Hey all I love the writing, thanks for this….

  85. I've had the same experiance getting my shoes shined, and I've never been to a gyno.
    Next time your in the airport wear Converse, George won't even speak to you.

  86. rogershoeshiner says:

    I am THE Shoe Shine guy at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.. I apprecitated the story very much! Thank You. I shine a womans boots on average twice a day. They really appreciate the love I put into fixing up there purses as well!! definantly consider wearing stockings when you plan your next shoe shine ladies!!! unless your coming too Vegas!!! Whew Hoo!!

  87. rogershoeshiner says:

    I am THE Shoe Shine guy at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.. I apprecitated the story very much! Thank You. I shine a womans boots on average twice a day. They really appreciate the love I put into fixing up there purses as well!! definantly consider wearing stockings when you plan your next shoe shine ladies!!! unless your coming too Vegas!!! Whew Hoo!!

  88. Pingback: CUNY Interactive Journalism » Airport Anxiety: One Nuisance, Six Solutions

  89. MartyS82 says:

    Getting my boots shined at the airport..Damn life’s rough..Gotta put my head back for a sec…J/K
    Nicole Austin (Coco, wife of Ice T) – from her cocosworld Twitter

    She wears OTKs with HIGH heels!

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