More than just the right answers

Every electron is identical, but every love is different. [… In one sense, a novel is not complete until it has been read. And each reader completes the novel in a different way.*
(Alan Lightman)

Getu walked barefoot for over five hundred miles to escape from Ethiopia for Sudan to try and find a new life. Later he emigrated to the United States and now shines shoes in Charlotte International Airport.

Look more closely at the story and we’ll find that Getu is responsible for thirty three shoe-shiners in three airports. Getting the right shine takes a twelve-step process, the last being a final shine that the delighted customer gets to take away.

Look even more closely and there’s even more preparation:

Love and compassion. That’s how we do it. We do it from the heart. People come not just to get a shine, but to talk with us. When you have an open heart and mind, people always have something to leave. You must be positive. That’s the way of winning. You say thank you for everybody who makes a difference in your life.**

Whatever we do, life is richer when we build relationship. We may not feel we’re great at doing this. We hesitate, can’t find the words to say, but people appreciate the attempts we make:

“Sometimes I think you believe in me more than I do,” said the boy. “You’ll catch up,” said the horse.^

(*From Alan Lightman’s A Sense of the Mysterious.)
(**Getu Marsha, quoted in the Charlotte Observer’s article: Man Who Fled Ethiopia Barefoot Offers Shoe Shines, Inspiration.)
(^From Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.)

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