5.03.2010

Smiles and Clean Flip Flops .. Priceless

The sun was beating down in a relentless fury and the air was thick with humidity so the Captain and I decided it was time to go exploring and find ourselves a nice cooling refreshing beverage. We happened along a corner store with a passionate and momentous game of dominos happening as well as amass of unused plastic lawn chairs stacked by the entrance. This was the spot we told each other. The corner was overflowing with activity. We purchased our drinks and grabbed a chair for the evening’s cheap entertainment.
It wasn’t long before we were approached by two young men who were both hauling wooded shoeshine boxes. They requested to shine our shoes for 10 pesos, translated to dollars equals approximately 30 cents. We looked down at our feet and we were both wearing flip flops! One of the young men was definitely the salesman; he smiled the biggest whitest smile and convinced us that we were in need of our shoes cleaned. So of course we agreed. One young man took the Captains shoes and the other took mine. Off to work they went, relentlessly scrubbing our shoes with some liquid mixture they carried in an old plastic bottle. Once the jobs were completed the Captain instructed each young man to place one shoe on top of their old wooden boxes and they complied. He began to evaluate and inspect each shoe. The young men sat in front of the captain with befuddled looks on their faces. It was obvious by their expressions this was the first time they had encounter such an issue. The Captain re-assured them and explained in broken Spanish that he was comparing each shoe to determine who performed the finest cleaning job. They both understood and then in an instant those big beautiful smiles re-appeared. They appeared to have enjoyed the camaraderie as well as the competition. After the judging was completed the Captain went into the corner store and returned with the coins to pay the young men for their service and good sportsmanship. Each held out their hands for payment and the Captain placed the requested 10 pesos in each of their hands. The boys, satisfied with their earnings smiled and began to walk down the street. But the Captain called them back; he was not finished with them. He reached into his pocket and pulled out additional coins and placed one in each of their hands, then another and another. With each drop of a coin in their little hands their eyes became bigger and their smiles became wider. It was so pleasurable watching these hard working young men become so excited over something so small to us. It was as if they had won the lottery as each coin dropped. After the coin pay out was completed the Captain requested that each boy now give him a gift. The befuddled expressions obviously returned to each of the young faces. He explained that he gave them a gift and now he wanted a gift in return. Each of the boys reached into their pockets and pulled out a coin and returned it happily to the Captain. The young men once again began to walk down the street still excited and gleaming over their earnings. But once more the Captain called them back; he was not finished with them yet. He returned the coins to the young men plus gave them each an additional coin. An expression of gratitude over took their faces as well as those colossal beautiful smiles.
This time instead of walking down the street they walked to the bus stop flipping a coin in the air! They were heading home and instead of walking the lengthy walk back to Boca Chico they were going home in luxury with a very good lesson in their minds. The lesson… be gracious for gifts and give back joyfully and it will all come back to you in time!

A short time after the young men left a truck pulled to the curb and parked in front of where we were relaxing. The driver jumped out and went into the corner store. In the back of the truck were 2 little girls. The oldest kept looking at us out of the corner of her eye. Within minutes the Captain began engaging her in some play time. She copied everything the Captain did, a version of the game Simone Says. When the truck pulled away the young girls as well as the adults were smiling ear to ear. What a day!! Making others smile, especially the children is a joy that can be found no other place.

Afternoon entertainment on a corner street in San Andres
Cool refreshing beverages… 240 pesos = $7.00
Flip flop shine …. 180 pesos = $5.00
Mile long smiles on little children’s faces…. PRICELESS!!


The Captain and I continue our passage north to home. We expecting to arrive back in St Pete FL in the next 3-4 weeks.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Must be the old nurse in me but I just loved this story. Ken

Mike DeGeorge said...

Awesome story.....written like a parable.....I would say you were both inspired!