Time Catches Up
At the train stop around the corner, there’s a man that sells shoes. He’s an older man - 60s or 70 years old, maybe. He has a lazy eye. His English is broken and you wouldn’t describe his demeanor as “friendly”. He once barked at me in some foreign language for trying to negotiate the cost of resoling my shoes. I paid full price. His store is dusty, the shoes are look like they were cobbled in the 70s and the leather jackets hanging in the window are fit for a Las Vegas cowboy. The smell of rubber, polish and moth balls sometimes seeps into the stairwell.
He’s probably been selling shoes from that store closet for over a decade. Up until now, the neighborhood has been sketchy. Not a lot of foot traffic to support a shoe business tucked inside a subway stop in Queens. Every time I walked passed his store, I wondered how on Earth he was able to make a living selling shoes. His inventory never seemed to move and I never saw him talking to a customer. During hot summer days I would catch him sleeping outside on a fold out chair wearing nothing but boxers and a t-shirt, a small fan blowing directly in his face to keep cool. That’s New York for ya.
But as I predicted, over the past two years my neighborhood has sprung into life. Construction for three luxury condos wakes me up in the morning and there’s always a new awning popping up for some small business across the Plaza. It’s exciting times for the neighborhood. But as I feared, it looks like the end for my dear shoe salesman. Last night, coming home, I read the words in his front window - “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE”. Time has finally caught up to him.
Power walking back to my apartment, I wondered what would happen to my dear shoe salesman. Would he keep selling shoes? Did he have a family to support? How does he feel now? He’s been doing the SAME thing for SO LONG that I can’t help but wonder if he feels afraid of what’s immediately ahead. I admire people who adapt and embrace change because I’m always dreading worst case scenarios and staving off feelings of failure. I’m scared to ask myself, “How much is this going to hurt?”
Have you ever had to start over? Losing someone you love? Letting go of your business?
Thanks for reading.