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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time for a Shoe Shine

When we were finished at the Mogamma building on Tahrir Square on Wednesday, I spotted one of the many shoeshine experts that can be found in any Egyptian tourist area. He had spotted me earlier and noticed that my shoes were in need of his service. Now I had some time to spend with him and he offered a good job. We negotiated a fair price, 5 pounds (about $0.83 cents.) I made clear that was for two shoes. Negotiating a one-shoe rate to be applied later to two shoes is a common practice by the shine workers.

Here Linda catches the process.

And here I am with the job half done.

In the end, I though the job was good enough to give him ten pounds instead of just five. That put him close to $2. Reportedly, 40% of Egyptians live on $2 per day or less.

Before my shine was complete, a local came up and reserved the next spot on the stand. I didn't see what price was being negotiated but it was much more likely to be one pound than ten.
I always try to be generous with anyone in the service business like a taxi driver or shoeshine specialist. I suspect that most Americans do, also. We are known for being big tippers, one of the reasons that we are popular as individuals even though our government is not particularly liked.

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