shoe polish – post #1

last week was spring break in wisconsin and so the family and i went to chicago to visit the windy city. it was a great time. i thought i would post about one incident over there.

my kids have been in and lived in big cities but they have all been southern cities. in other words, they were cities that required driving from spot to spot. they are not familiar with cities where the major forms of transportation are your feet and other public means of locomotion. it was all very interesting for them.

of course, all this interest also means that they experienced much more closely than ever people begging for money. the kids have joined pam and i as we’ve worked at shelters, or had supper with new friends who were struggling financially, or helped as we have interacted with numbers of other people who have been at desperate times within their lives. yet they have never had someone walk up to them and shake a cup in their faces while asking for spare change. it was a different experience for them.

however, this post is not about poverty, the causes of poverty, or possible solutions to poverty. instead, it is about one pan handler’s strategy for gathering spare change. while we were walking on the sidewalk to the chicago institute of art’s museum a casually dressed guy walked up to me and said “man your boots are really scuffed up.” i have to admit that i was not ready for a guy to walk up and say such a thing so my response was not very eloquent. i responded to the man by saying “huh?” as i said, i was’n’t really ready for the original statement.

anyhow, the guys stated once again that my boots were really scratched up. he then said that he had just the stuff necessary to fix scuffed up shoes. it was at this point that he pulled out a pill bottle which contained a gel (i’m assuming it was vaseline), bent down to my shoes, and began to rub some of the gel onto my left boot. it was at this point that i woke up and realized what was happening. i finally understood that the guy was trying to force some psuedo-shoe polishing on me and then hit me up for a “contribution” for his hard work on my “badly scuffed” boots.

like i said earlier this is not a post on the causes or solutions of poverty so please read this next part for what it is … a comment on the guy’s method. i hate it when someone pretends concerning one thing just to get me to do whatever it is they desire. for example, i hate it when a telemarketer calls saying they are conducting a survey, but in reality they are just trying to make a sale and not collecting information. it drives me nuts because i actually will answers the questions of a telephone survey every now and then, but when someone pulls this kind of “bait and switch” survey i can always guarantee you that i’m not going to buy from them no matter what the product is. it was the same with this guy. there was a decent chance that i might have given him a little money or maybe bought him a meal if he had asked. yet, the second he pulled the trick of putting valesine on my boots he lost any chance of me giving him anything. he hit one of my buttons. i told him i wasn’t interested in him doing anything to my shoes and i pulled away from him.

i’ll finished my comments on this tomorrow.

2 Replies to “shoe polish – post #1”

  1. I remember one of my days as a youth at Parkview. The church was doing an evangelism project and I volunteered to be a part of it. Well, we got our materials on Saturday morning and I was assigned to work with a man who’d done this many times before. I noted that our materials were 5 by 8 cards with several questions and a place for responses. It was a public opinion poll. The last couple of questions were a pust to either received Jesus or have someone come visit and explain Jesus to them.

    I went dutifully marking their responses on the sheets keeping good records and started wondering what the results of the research might be. That evening someone asked us to turn in our “prospect cards,” at which point the man I’d been working with flipped through the cards we’d filled out and pulled out 3 of them. Most of the others did the same. The rest of the “research” was thrown in the garbage. That’s when I learned it was all just a sales pitch. I grew up a little that day.

    “So, you’re telling me that if I receive Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior today, not only will I receive forgiveness of all my sins and an eternity in heaven, you’ll also throw in a handsome set of steak knives?”[/i]

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