You see, Famous Wayne and his shoe shine stand at the foot of California Street have been a San Francisco institution, as he tells the story, for 35 years. He also, as the Yelp page mentions, finds a way to get his punch cards into the conversation early and often. But today I sat down for simply a shine and I left a lifer.
I love a shoe shine and believe that well shined shoes is a sign of a man who takes care of himself -- he understands that there are appropriate times for every kind of dress. Here in San Francisco, ties and suits are for special occasions; and while I have adopted the open collar, I have yet to move to the Chuck Taylor's as business kicks, no matter what Foster the People say.
With this in mind, I have been trying to get a seat at Famous Wayne's for a few weeks now. My new shoes didn't look so new anymore and a street shine is always the way to go. But every time I passed his stand, I was either late to a meeting or he wasn't around. Today he was there and I sat myself down and got the pitch.
After another customer sat down and instantly said, "Wayne will try to get you with the $50 for 25 shines, but the real deal is the lifer card," I knew I found a place I could get behind. Wayne also told me that I should always listen to my mama because his mama knew that his wife was, and I quote, "a no good bitch" well before she cheated on him and he needed to start over. I am happy to say my mother has always liked my lovely wife. This has been the case from the first time my mom saw a picture of my now lovely wife from summer camp.*
Sure $300 bucks up front for shined shoes is a bit much but I see it this way: Wayne became famous for working his ass off for 35 years on the streets of San Francisco. He has seen this place through some interesting and troubling times. Now, as a new San Franciscan, I hope to keep him on the street (in the good way) for years to come.
The societal benefit of hard working, micro-business men like Wayne and his crew of shiners is well worth my investment, or at least that is what I say to myself after being up-sold like a doe-eyed fool. But seriously, he is a historian of this corner. He knows his working-class and banker clients by name. Wayne and his guys pull his cart out every day of the week and shine shoes.
There also is something to be said about having shined shoes all of the time. And now, I will have shined shoes 365 days a year. Both my browns and the blacks will be shined once a week by Famous Wayne and I will most likely learn something in the process.
*I will not include the picture here because I have been told this cute picture of the two of us stuffing watermellon in our respective mouths during an all camp rely race isn't flattering.