“Big shiny, or little shiny?”

Occasionally when I am at an airport I take advantage of the waiting time and get my shoes shined.

Recently I was at an airport having my shoes shined by a Turkish gentleman, who had a very limited use of the English language, which was exceeded only by my complete lack of Turkish. So we were limited to sign language, finger pointing and perhaps a few English words.

He gestured for me to take a seat, and with a broad smile, he offered me a selection of 3 different newspapers German, French and English. He rolled up the cuff of my trousers and inserted some playing cards between my shoes and socks to protect them and then he got to work.

“Big shiny or little shiny?”

His English vocabulary was limited to the words “Big shiny, or little shiny?”, so I lashed out and went with ‘big shiny’. And after three applications of various cleaning polishes and lots of buffing my shoes looked brand new!

While I was having my shoes done I noticed he had a small selection of brushes and a ‘no label’ shoe polish for sale. I was so impressed with the end result that I tried to ask him what the shoe polish was, again we got stuck on “big shiny, or little shiny” and a broad Turkish smile, so I bought two brushes and the shoe polish anyway and he tried to teach me what order to use them in and the finer details of shoe cleaning. At least I think that’s what he was saying.

As a consumer I wanted service, I got it. I wanted a good end result, I got it, in fact, the end result exceeded my expectations. I wanted it to be quick, it was, and I wanted good value, I got that too.

In fact, it was categorically the most memorable and best shoe shine I had ever had!

Cue James Brown singing “I feel good…”

I won’t do my James Brown impersonation of “I feel good” but I as I walked away, ‘I felt good!’

It got me thinking about how even with the most humble of jobs you can still take an enormous amount of pride in doing it better than anyone else.

It got me thinking that even if you can’t speak the same language, that a smile and great service, are the same in any language.

And it got me thinking that, amongst all the things that a trip to a salon is meant to achieve, is that ultimately when your client walks out the door we want them to be singing a little James Brown “I feel good…” under their breath

Thank you for watching…

2 responses to ““Big shiny, or little shiny?””

  1. Nat Wilson says:

    Love it Antony – very aspirational.

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