Foot Soldiers

shoe-shine-hand

“Finding unexpected beauty in the hands of shoe shiners”

This hand: German Orellana, 55, Ecuador.
Photographs by Christopher Griffith.

Don’t miss photos of 15 other NYC shoe shiners in The New York Times Magazine: Shoe Shine Slideshow


My 1%

Alex Van Gelder %22Armed Force%22 - Louise Bourgeois Hands

Rush jobs. Corners cut. One constant in 30 years, disappointment.

A handful of notables come to mind. So few, I can picture the craftsman. I can picture the chair. Here the tired and the scuffed are healed to a high gloss sheen.

It’s rare. 1%.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Kloten Airport in Zurich.
Allen Edmonds, Port Washington, Wisconsin.
And, Grand Central.

Her country of origin? My best guess. Guatemala. Age? Impossible to gauge. Hunched over. Plump. Hands tough, cracked. Brown skin is smooth, free of pock marks. Hair pulled back. Green smock. I’ll say mid-50’s. But a hard 50.

I wait for her to be done with another customer. The other shoe shiners, all men, smirk.  I turn away, anger surges.  Clench my fist. [Read more…]

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