Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

New Orleans – A Tale of Four Shoes, Part One: Dan, the Shoeshine Man

For some reason, I have no trouble living in running shoes for an entire month of backpacking, but for a week in the Bayou, I felt compelled to pack four – yes, four – pairs of shoes.

There were the black clogs that I donned on the plane ride down, the new Salomon trail shoes that I needed to break in, the blissfully comfortable flip flops that I hoped to find occasion to wear, and the boots that I stuffed into my bag, just in case we decided to go out for a nice dinner.

We arrived Saturday afternoon, dropped our bags at the hotel, and headed downtown.  I’ve been to New Orleans twice before (a separate post on that shortly), but this is Brent’s first time in the Big Easy, and the French Quarter seemed like the perfect introduction to the city.  We wandered for a few hours, eating falafel and shwarma, gawking at revelers and street performers, admiring the architecture, and scoping out potential restaurants and bars for Sunday’s Eagles-Giants and Patriots-Packers games.

As the sun was setting, we decided to head for the river to take the scenic route back to our car.  We walked along the banks of the Mississippi, enjoying the smells and sights, when out of nowhere a man came up next to us.

“I’ll bet I can tell you where you got your shoes,” he said to Brent.

We looked at each other, confused.

“My name is Dan the Shoeshine Man,” he continued, shaking Brent’s hand.  “If I can tell you where you got your shoes, you have to let me shine ’em.”

Before either of us could respond or react, Dan knelt down and squirted each of our shoes with translucent goop.

“Come on over here, have a seat, and I’ll clean that right off for you.”

He guided us both to a bench.

“See now, you got your shoes on your feet.  I didn’t say I’d guess where you bought ’em, just where you got ’em,” he said lyrically.  “Now if anyone ever asks you, you got your shoes on your feet. Never forget, you got your shoes on your feet.”

By this point he’d polished both of my shoes and moved on to Brent’s.

“So, two for ten is twenty, right?  Yes sir, twenty is ten and two; that’s two pairs and four shoes and five each,” he continued.

We didn’t know what to do.

“Um,” said Brent, “how about $5?”

“Five?”  That’s at least $10.”

“I’ll give you $5.”

“Okay, and I’ll take $5.”

Brent handed him the bill and we continued on our way, utterly dumbfounded.

“How did that happen?” Brent said to me.  “I don’t even remember him leaning down.”

“And we call ourselves seasoned travelers,” I responded.

“I’m at a loss…”

By the time we made it back to our room, we were laughing about our encounter with Dan the Shoeshine Man.

“Well,” Brent said of his Merrells,, “I guess they do look a little less scuffed.”

The next morning, I pulled on jeans and my Eagles t-shirt and began to reach for my clogs.

“I’m not risking another run-in with Dan,” Brent said.  “I’m wearing my Salomons today.”

I decided he had the right idea, and pulled on my brand new trail shoes for the 2-mile walk down to the French Quarter.  It was time for a morning of photo ops and an afternoon of football.

Stay tuned for Part Two, alternately titled, “the thrill of victory, the agony of my feet.”

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5 responses to “New Orleans – A Tale of Four Shoes, Part One: Dan, the Shoeshine Man

  1. Johann December 21, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Lovely and you wrote this so well I felt like I experienced it exactly how you did. When I travel I only wear running shoes.

  2. Kari w/ Jogging with Fiction December 21, 2010 at 8:25 am

    That is so completely random! I always get approached by strangers no matter where I go, so odd. Also, I love Salomon brand!

  3. denise December 21, 2010 at 8:37 am

    i always wonder how they get the balls to just do that…

    new orleans is such a great place! hope you had fun.

  4. Mallory December 21, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Ha that sounds like quite the adventure! I always pack too many pairs of shoes, too!

  5. Pingback: New Orleans – A Tale of Four Shoes, Part Three: The Luck of the Thongs « Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

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