Jan. 15th, 2011

I picked up a pair of my wife’s shoes down at the Shoe Hospital yesterday. I’ve been going to the same place for years. It has a single long formica counter with cubicles full of shoeboxes behind it; plenty of scuffed up chairs for waiting; a small fitting and measuring area. It’s as unpretentious a shoe repair joint as you can imagine, but they do good work, don’t charge a lot, and they have things ready on time.

There was a short line. When I got to the front I presented my claim ticket. The counterman took it, looked at the numbers on the rows of shoeboxes behind him, and frowned. “Let me check in the back, sir,” he said, and pushed though the swinging doors to the back of the shop. A few minutes later he came back. He looked worried.

“Sir,” he said, “there’s a small complication with your shoes.”

“Really?” I asked. “I mean, it was just a simple resoling job.”

“I know, sir, but there are a few issues we should probably discuss.”

I folded my arms. “Okay, let’s discuss them.”

The counterman licked his lips and glanced over my shoulder. The line behind me was several people deep. The shopman leaned in and pitched his voice low.

“Sir,” he said, “we have a policy to protect the privacy of our patients.”

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September 2012

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