#SOL16: Small-Town Afternoon
There is no bookstore. No movie theater. There used to be three grocery stores, but two closed. We have that New York staple, a diner, that stays open ’til 2 a.m. on Saturdays, any number of delis, and a bagel store. Otherwise your dinner choices run to pizza, Italian, or Chinese. It’s not unusual for people to commute to work in New York City; many others work at one of the corporations headquartered in the county. So, the town has its share of highly educated citizens and the quality of schools, which are highly rated, matters. But every time the school budget comes up for a vote, the same conservative watch group opposes it. This election, I’ve driven around counting Trump lawn signs and bumper stickers. Not many, but I know this is conservative territory, so even when I see one, I’m not really surprised.
I stopped loving this place some time ago. Sometimes I find myself mentally grousing about its stupidities, its small-mindedness. Every once in a while, though, I curse it for a different reason. Today was one of those days.
I took a pair of boots to be re-heeled. There’s a shoemaker in town, housed inside a cleaner’s. The shoemaker and his wife operate the cleaners and she is also a seamstress. This is not just a repair business though. The front windows of the shop are lined with handmade shoes, mostly men’s dress shoes and boots. The leather looks soft and the shoes well-made. Part of me would love to own a pair of shoes crafted to my foot. Part of me scoffs at the probably-ridiculous price tag. But when I have a real shoe repair that needs doing, I go there first.
Today the shoemaker greeted me with a big smile. Yes, yes, he would fix the heels. No, the boots didn’t need to be resoled– they looked pretty good to him. They should, I told him, he resoled them a few years ago. He picked up the boot again, looked closely. “Not bad,” he agreed happily. Did he have a polish that would match that color, I asked. He looked doubtful, but motioned for me to follow him. We went around a partition into a small area filled with four large machines. He pawed around and emerged with a box, from which he pulled a jar of polish. Twisting off the lid, he said something about the color being the closest that would work. He explained a little more, but his Italian accent was so heavy, I didn’t follow. Besides, I already had the color he suggested. “Ah, good,” he nodded.
“End of the week OK?” he asked, leading me back to the counter.
“Good, good. I see you then.”
You pay in advance here, so once that transaction was done, he carefully stamped my copy of the claim form “Paid” and then his. He then added it to a box next to the cash register.
The wall opposite the counter was crammed with pictures of his family, events of the local church. Today I saw one of him straddling a sea foam green Vespa in bright sunlight. I bet it was somewhere in Italy. If his grin had been any bigger, it would have split his face.
My boots are in good hands. My town has its gleaming moments.