Sunday, July 06, 2008

Shoe Shiners

The shoe shiners in Istanbul have a pretty good gimmick. As you are walking by they will drop their brush and pretend not to notice. If one is kind enough to pick up his brush, or even just point the brush out to him, the shoe shiner in turns offers to shine the person's shoes, presumably for free. However, the well-meaning tourists that are duped by this ploy discover that after their footwear has been polished the shoe shiner expects to compensated for his work- sometimes as much as 20 USD.

Last night two separate shoe shiners tried this on two of my friends and myself while we were walking across the Galata Bridge literally within 30 seconds of each other. I found the second attempt so humerus that I burst into uncontrollable laughter. My boy Kendell, from Arkansas, in a spur of the moment decision , responded rather rashly by kicking the second brush like a soccer ball. Needless to say, the shoe-shiner transformed from a clumsy working class joe to an irate, street-hardened Turk hurling profanities in uncannily good English.

The locals watching the whole ordeal found it to be almost as hilarious as I did. Thankfully, no one was stabbed in a dark alley later.

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