Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Man on the Street
I recently went to get my running shoes patched up since they had begun to fall apart. The shoes originally cost around 6000 bucks and a new pair would be a somewhat similar story. So deciding to skimp and be more reasonable I went to find one of those guys who patches shoes up for cheap.
I found this guy in Slave Island who seemed to have a lot of business and I showed him my shoes. He looked at them and said he'd fix them for Rs. 250. I agreed and he proceeded to work on it.
The guy sits there with a partner who also patches up shoes and together they dump their earnings in to a box beside them. Located all around are the tools they use including sewing needles and thread, polish, a tooth brush and more.
Anyway as I was watching this guy sewing my shoe up I was somewhat impressed by his speed and dexterity. He moved with a complete assuredness that he knew what he was doing. This is somewhat of a contrast from a lot of the white collar places in Colombo where employees have no clue what their doing (I'm thinking IT here - particularly IT repair) and just try to BS their way out.
As I watched him sewing the shoe, his partner finished around 3 or 4 customers with smaller jobs. He opened the little shared box... and there was quite a bit of cash in there. Considering it was around 12, and that these guys work almost everyday I think, and probably well in to the afternoon, they must be getting a pretty decent living. Well over a 1000 rupees a day I'm sure. There certainly wasn't a sense of desperation or eagerness for business. He seemed pretty confident and relaxed.
This guy was free to get up and go if he wanted. He had a pretty decent supply of cash and while he may not be able to afford the luxuries in life, I'm not sure he would want to. Seemed like he had it pretty good all things considered. Definitely a better way than just begging on the road, that's for sure.