The shop door opened and the manager groaned quietly. “Who wants to buy
shoes ten minutes before closing?“ she said under her breath, then, with her most
professional smile, turned to face the customer. The man and his coat were old
and damaged. She could smell him now. He stank of old cigarettes.
“I need a pair of shoes,” he said quietly. He sounded embarrassed.
The shop manager looked at his feet. The top of his shoes had separated from the
soles. His socks were more holes than socks, but at least his toes were clean. She
gave a warm smile. It had been a long time since she last genuinely smiled at a customer.
“What size shoe are you?”
The man shrugged his shoulders. “I can’t remember the last time I bought shoes.”
The man dropped himself onto the chair with a heavy sigh. She imagined he had
walked the streets all day looking for food. She had been on her feet all day, too
-selling expensive shoes to people who didn’t need them. Suddenly she thought
about the time: 6 minutes to 5. She quickly brought the man a few pairs of shoes.
She was a shoe shop manager long enough to know a shoe size by sight.
He tried on a black, leather pair. They fitted perfectly and they looked great.
“I can’t take them,” he said. “I have no money. I have wasted your time. I’m sorry.”
“Look, the shop makes a lot of money. You can have them for free, “ she said as
the clock struck five. She hoped she sounded more caring than eager to leave.
The customer walked down the street in his new shoes. He took off the old coat
and got into his car.
“It works every time!” He grinned as he drove away.