Larry, The Shoeshine Guy: Smile #12

July 5, 2012 (Smile #12, San Francisco) — Meet Larry, the shoeshine guy, who works at the corner of Market and New Montgomery Street.  For several years, I walked by him on my way to work.  Each time I saw him, I thought to myself about how lucky he is for being at the perfect corner for business.  Usually dressed in a suit, he looks pretty successful.  However, I was surprised to discover that he is actually a homeless, recovered heroin addict.

Larry Moore, the shoeshine guy

Larry Moore, the shoeshine guy

Free Shoeshine Today! Compliments of RosemaryDo.com. Hoping to make your smile.

Free Shoeshine Today!

Making A Difference
Regardless of his past, what’s important is that Larry is trying to be positive and get his life back on track.  I watch him with his customers, and he’s always working hard to make them happy.  But what’s even more interesting is when there are no customers. I see Larry sitting alone and I wonder what is going through his head.  By observing his facial expressions, I see sadness in his eyes.

To cheer him up, I thought I could bring him more business by sponsoring complimentary shoeshine services to anyone on the street.  I printed up a “Free Shoeshine Today” sign and taped it to his work station on March 26, 2012.  There were four special customers who helped support Larry and allowed me to document them in this special story.

  • Yuri: He works nearby and gives Larry business on a regular basis.
  • Ursula: She is on business from Germany and this is her first time getting a shoeshine from Larry.
  • Loren: He is a regular customer and attorney who helped Larry set up his bank account.
  • Khan: He is a regular customer and “fashion therapist” at Swell Attitude (custom tailored men’s suits).

Lesson Learned
From the photos, you can see that Larry is using a blue toolbox as a foot rest to support his customers’ feet because his original aluminum foot rests were stolen when he stepped away for lunch. A few months later, I was happy to see that he invested in a portable shoeshine box kit that came with built-in foot rests.

Larry learned that even though there are generous people out there who helped him get back on his feet, there are others who will take advantage of him regardless of his situation. Larry is now keeping better track of his investments.

Yuri: He works nearby and gives Larry business on a regular basis.

Yuri: He is a regular customer and works nearby.

Ursula: She is on business from Germany and this is her first time getting a shoeshine from Larry.

Ursula: She is on business from Germany.

Loren: He is a regular customer and attorney who helped Larry set up his bank account.

Loren: He is a regular customer and attorney.

Larry: Smile #12 - Khan

Khan: He is a regular customer and "fashion therapist."



PERSEVERANCE: through it all
Toward the end of the day, I asked Larry what message he wanted to send to the people of San Francisco.  He took a moment and thought about my question and then he proudly said, “I want to meet and exceed all my customers’ expectations of service and workmanship.  It makes me feel good when I see them smile.”

Everyone has their own views of what makes them happy and there are different ways to attain happiness.  What is common, though, is that the little positive things in life all add up in the end.  For Larry, his happiness is simple.  He said, “At the end of the day, all I want to do is go home, be clean and sober, and sleep in my own bed.  That’s what makes me happy and I look forward to that day by day.”  These were his last words during my interview with him on March 26, 2012.

As of June 22, 2012, Larry has been evicted from his apartment.  However, you can still find him at his shoeshine corner where he’s still trying to make his customers smile.

Related Articles by C.W. Nevius at the San Francisco Chronicle
Larry The Shoeshine Guy Falls On Hard Times Again
Larry Moore, Shoe Shine Man, Faces Tough Surgery

About the Author – Rosemary Do
I officially started documenting “my happiness project” on January 30, 2012. Each day, I will publish the special person who has invited me into their life. I invite you to come along the journey with me and collect smiles and spread happiness to one person — one day at at time.

Follow me @SmilingRosemary or be my friend on Facebook.

 

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