“I’m talking too much”

A Yellow Pages search for shoe repair led me down the street, to a storefront I’d walked by tens of times but never really noticed. Now, behind the window and sign that read “Shoe Repair,” a man was inspecting an array of fishing rods. It looked like the shop was under construction. I kept walking, and then came back; this was the address I had written down. I poked my head into the door, which was slightly ajar.
“Do you do shoe repair here?” I asked.
The man was older, with gray hair and beard, and he smiled from the corners of his eyes. “What does the sign say?”
“Well, I saw the fishing rods and I wasn’t sure,” I said.
“Well, we sell fishing rods too. How can I help you?”
I showed the man my dyable shoes, but I knew even before I got them out of the box, he wasn’t going to be able to die them “rose quartz.” The heels loosely arranged on the shelves of the store were clearly for men’s workboots, and the dusty case in the counter held only dark shoe polish. Still, he wanted to see the color swatch. “Yeah, maybe I could do it,” he told me, “but to be honest, I’m just too lazy. I’d have to dig around here,” he gestured to the disorganized piles of boxes and tools behind him, “to find it, and even then — I’m just too old and lazy.”
So then I reached into my bag and said I had a heel repair. Glancing again at the thick men’s heels and soles piled on the shelves, I presented a pair of hot pink kitten heels, one of which I’d walked out of some weeks ago. “Oh, this I can fix, no problem,” said the man.
We chatted for a bit as he filled out the slip for my shoes. He thought I was new to town because he’d never seen me before. He has been in that shop for 30 years. He showed me a cowboy boot with a worn heel and a hole in the sole and told me that he’d been fixing shoes for this family for generations. He doesn’t keep normal store hours, just comes in as he feels like it to get out of the house, where he’s all alone.

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