Immigration and Cowboy Boots

bootsLike all guys from Montana, I love my boots.  When you get a pair of boots that fit just right, you want to keep them wearable as long as you can.  I needed new soles and heels, and quickly – I was starting a new job in a couple of days.

I found Lee’s Shoe Repair on the web and called.   In a deep Chinese accent, the shop owner said, “You bring them over, we take care of you.”  I grabbed my old boots and took off.

Mr. Lee is getting on in years, and is probably a fairly recent immigrant to the United States.  I don’t know that he is here illegally, but he sure could be.  His English is passable, but broken – he had trouble understanding me, and I him.  He said, “I have you boots on Saturday.”

“No, Mr. Lee,” I pleaded.  “I need them by the end of business tomorrow.  I’ll pay extra if you can help me.”

Overhearing the conversation, a husky young guy stuck his head through the doorway from the workroom and drawled, “Hey, no problem there, buddy.  I know how important a man’s boots are.  I’ll git ’em done for you by tomorrow.”  He showed me a better kind of sole that would be more comfortable for long days on my feet.  Relieved, I left my boots in his skilled Texan hands.

The next day I returned to the shoe repair shop and was greeted by Mrs. Lee, a gray-haired lady with bright eyes and a smile as big as China and Texas put together.  The Texan cobbler came out to say hello, too, and I slipped him a ten-spot as a thank you for the rush job.  Mrs. Lee said, “You need insoles so your feet don’t get tired.  I won’t charge you for them.”

I thanked her, marveling at the extraordinary care and pride this couple and their happy Texan employee put into their work.  Then she slipped into the back room, returning with a wrapped package of her special home-made fruit and cinnamon bread.  “You take this,” she smiled.  “Good luck with your new job!”

A week later, I stopped in to the neighborhood Bank of America across the street from Mr. Lee’s shoe repair shop to find out why I had not received my order of checks.  I had been told ten days, and after three weeks they had not arrived.   Annoyed at being bothered, the assistant manager checked his computer and said, “Looks like they were never ordered.  I will put in a new order and you should get them in about ten days.”

I looked him in the eye and asked, “And the magic words when your company screws up are . . . ?”

He gave me a puzzled look.

“How about, ‘I’m sorry?‘” I said.

“Oh, um . . . of course.   I’m, uhh . . . sorry.”  He looked like he just ate a mouthful of worms.

I went across the street to thank Mrs. Lee and the Texan again for the great job they did on my very comfortable boots, and the delicious fruit bread.   Her eyes twinkled, and there was that big smile.  “You wait, I give you ‘Happy Candy’!  You take it!”  I left her shop, chewing her delicious Happy Candy, and reflecting on the difference between these two businesses a few hundred feet apart.

I’m still developing my thoughts on immigration.  And on the Big Bank bailout.

Tom Balek – Rockin On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

These boots are made for walking
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna
Walk all over you!

Are you ready boots?
Start walkin’!

These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra

Watch this video, if only to see the MINI-SKIRTS!  Those were the good old days . . .

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