As I said, I am taking a creative writing course. This has prompted me to pull out some of the things I had to write during my course at the college a few years ago. I thought I'd randomly share some with you.
In one class, we were instructed to write a "last letter" and then we each were given a character. My character was a shoemaker.
As I sit here in my workshop for the last time, the familiar smells of leather and glue comfort me. Memories flood my mind. My first pair of shoes: small black Mary Janes, size 7, for a Shirley Temple-like little flower girl.
Back in the early days, getting a new pair of shoes was a cherished occasion for most people. The look of joy on the customer’s face and the pride with which they donned my masterpiece creations made my hard work and meticulous attention to detail all worthwhile.
Those days are gone. Commercialism and materialism have consumed our nation. No longer do people appreciate the craftsmanship of well-constructed footwear. No longer are people willing to re-sole a favourite pair of shoes. No longer will people replace an eyelet on a great pair of boots. These days, shoes become disposable as soon as the laces get dirty.
People think nothing of buying synthetic footwear, made in Pakistan by 8-year-olds in a factory assembly line. There is no longer respect for the masters of the trade like myself. Making shoes has been my life. I have worked into the night designing and constructing the perfect pair of shoes for a cherished client. There are no elves here in this workshop. It’s been all by the sweat of my brow. Yet my dedication and competency have come to mean nothing.
On weekends I sit on the park bench watching feet pass by. I shake my head in bewilderment. Why are people so much like sheep, just following the crowd in these pathetic trends? Do they really like that shoddily made crap they buy in big box retail outlets? Do people care nothing for comfort and quality anymore? What on earth would possess someone to wear those hideous toe-pinching, arch cramping styles of the day?
Surely humans have more brains than to pay those exorbitant prices for uncomfortable vinyl just because the box is plastered with the face of the likes of Michael Jordan. He, who sits in his extravagant mansion not giving a shit about the likes of me. Me, who sits in a tiny workshop working the night away and wondering when I’ll make the next sale. Neither do they care for the little peons who are deep in debt trying to keep up with the latest flighty fad that will be disposed of in three months.
I have been brushed off by a society bent on self-destruction in spite of themselves. I can no longer bear the condescending looks, or worse, the look of indifference from people when they hear me say with pride, “I am a shoemaker.”
Yes, my usefulness here on this earth is over. So I say, “Goodbye cruel world.” I’ll just lace up my latest pair of comfortable custom boots, fasten this strap of leather firmly about my neck, and step off the edge of my faithful sewing machine – my only trusted ally, right to the end.