Memories of a Shoeshine Boy

You know what liberals listening to this program are saying right now? Do you know what they’re screaming at the radios? “How come you didn’t want to wash dishes for the rest of your life? Other people have to do it. How come you don’t have to anymore? How come washing dishes all of a sudden became beneath you?” That’s what we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with insanity. We’re dealing with a total cultural divide disconnect. You are calling to praise your daughter, and I totally understand it, and the people on the left listening to this, all they hear is how your daughter benefited from an unfair advantage. She’s smarter or knew people or whatever, and you had connections, and that’s what’s wrong with America because these other 2,999 didn’t.

They focus on the losers, and they don’t think the winners are legitimate, and, therefore, the whole process is illegitimate. Work should be an honor. My first job… Well. (chuckles) I was forced — I was forced — to mow the grass. That was my brother’s and my punishment. Not with a power mower. No, and we had to use edge trimmers. I hated it. I hate it to this day! I despised it. It was punishment. We had to do it. We had to wash the dishes before we were 14. I can tell you that. But my first paying job away from home was shining shoes in a barbershop, at age 13. (interruption) Well, it was racist because there were people at the time who thought that I shouldn’t have the job because I came from an affluent family and I was depriving a poor kid of the opportunity.

Even back then, I kid you not, there was that sentiment. It wasn’t said aloud, but there was an undercurrent. There was an undercurrent. Anyway, the barbers in the barbershop were all great. I got the job, but then I sat around in there, waiting for customers to come to the shoeshine stand, and a couple days passed and two people showed up. The barber says, “How are you gonna get ’em back here for a shoe shine?” I said, “Well, if they want one, they’ll come. If they don’t…” “No, no, no. Nobody wants one. When they’re sitting there in the chair getting a haircut, you need to just give their shoes a brief buff, and if they say don’t do it because they don’t want to pay for it, you tell them, ‘No, there’s no charge. It’s just a service that I offer,’ and you watch how many of them will ask you to come do it for real and pay you.”

And that happened.

So it was a great learning thing. I just love making shoes shine. I don’t know. It was a fetish. Getting paid for it was… I’m 13! It cost 50¢. I earned $50 in three months. I was living at home. It was not something I needed to live on. But my parents were blown away. They couldn’t understand it, why I would want to do it. They didn’t hold me back, but there was this undercurrent that I was depriving somebody more needy of the job. But that’s always the way. (sigh) I don’t care. There are always going to be detractors; anybody doing anything they do. I just loved it. I learned how to spit shine like the military people have to do. I learned how to do all that. So we’ve all got these stories to tell. We’ve all got stories to tell of the first jobs that we had, first work that we had. You learn so much being around adults who are earning a living for themselves and their family. It was a great educational thing for me all the way around, just in the basics of how to get customers. You can’t just sit there and let ’em come to you.



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