Have Your Shoes Shined & Be Inspired

Apr 16th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations
There was something different about the man shining shoes in the airport terminal. He carried himself with dignity, and he did not just sit and wait for people to come to him, he walked around the gates inviting people to come to his stand and have their shoes shined. I could not resist, and not only do my shoes now shine, my face was shining as I walked away from this man.

Less than a year ago, he was sitting in one of the executive offices of a major corporation, earning a large salary. He lost his job when his company downsized, and he immediately began to look for work. He refused to complain about his misfortune and was determined to do any kind of work to support his family rather than sit at home “above” the indignity of shining shoes.

“There is more dignity in this than in sitting and waiting for a better job.”

He even uses his new job to network with travelers, collecting their business cards and handing out his resume. The man shining my shoes had more dignity than so many of the people I regularly meet.

He spoke only of the good in his life, his son who is a Navy Seal, his daughter who is an accountant, and his twin granddaughters. He spoke with such joy about his blessings that I realized that here was a man who is what he is and is not defined by what he does for a living.

My shoes have never looked so good. He saw my face and said, “I was in the navy for years. I wanted your shoes to shine the way ours did to pass inspection.” He actually wanted me to walk with shoes that had more dignity.

I stood behind a large sign and listened to him speak to his next customers. This man who has such inherent dignity spoke to everyone in such a manner that he shared his sense of dignity with them.

I don’t know your name, sir, but thank you for an important reminder of where we can all find our dignity; inside ourselves. It won’t come from anywhere else.

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