Mr. Garrido owned one of the oldest shoe stores on the block and knew very well how to serve a customer. The business had allowed him to buy a house, invest in the market and support his family.
In 30 years, the store had never been open late, the place was always clean and spotless, and every person who came in was greeted with great kindness and the best of smiles.
Perhaps that is why Mr. Garrido did not feel threatened by the competition that opened its doors a few meters from the store. But his son, Pedro, saw it as a wake-up call.
«Dad, look at that store! They have the best lighting, they offer only the best brands of shoes, and their staff is young and has a smart uniform…». Peter was trying to alert his father for the millionth time.
«And look… the customers there are not people who just look — they actually have the money to spend!».
But Peter was frustrated when he saw his father shake his head.
«Look at that guy at the entrance. He looks like a homeless guy and hasn’t been shy to come into our store. He knows he has no chance of getting into the other store,» Pedro thought, slowly approaching the boy.
«Hey, you! Who told you that you could touch shoes?» he yelled, scaring the poor kid.
«I’m sorry. I didn’t…» the boy stammered.
«Are you trying to steal? I think I should call the police…».
Pedro pretended to dial on his phone. He was beginning to enjoy the frightened look on the boy’s face.
«I didn’t come here to steal. I came here to buy shoes. Mine are very worn out. And look, my grandmother works as a janitor and she gave me enough money to buy some.»
«Janitor? Your grandmother works as a janitor, and you think you can afford the shoes we sell here?» asked Pedro with disdain.
«I think so sir, look how much she gave me». The boy’s voice was cracking with emotion as he tried to explain.
«Who wants your money? But since you’re here,» Pedro said, noticing he had the staff’s attention. «Use what you learned from your grandmother and clean my shoes.»
He then smiled in satisfaction at his witty remark.
The boy noticed that the store’s customers were staring at him and burst into tears.
«Didn’t you hear me, wipe my boots!!!», shouted Pedro.
«THAT’S ENOUGH!» roared a voice, startling everyone present.
Pedro had completely forgotten that his father was in the store.
«I’m so ashamed to hear you! You will not speak to customers or anyone else like that!» said Mr. Garrido in a firm, authoritative voice.
«I didn’t do anything wrong, so if you expect me to apologize to this poor guy, I’m telling you from now on I won’t,» Pedro told him haughtily.
But the teenager had forgotten that his father had very strict rules.
«No, I will not ask you to apologize. You’re going to learn this lesson the hard way,» the man said and turned to the store staff.
«Gentlemen, tomorrow we will have a very special young man replacing our regular janitor. My son, Pedro,» he declared, patting his son firmly on the back. «He will assume responsibility for cleaning the store and merchandise three times during the day.»
And he added, looking the boy straight in the eye.
«There are 12,342 shoeboxes in this old, outdated store — I better not see a speck of dust on any of them when I check tomorrow!».
Peter was shocked. He knew there was no chance of argument. His father’s eyes exuded indignation and determination.
Mr. Garrido turned and walked out, looking for the boy who had quietly left the store.
The next day, Pedro had to get up before dawn to get to the store and start cleaning. He used his anger to scrub the toilets and clean the floor, but all that energy was gone in less than an hour.
Mr. Garrido made sure his son didn’t slack off for a moment. By the time Pedro finished dusting every shoebox on every shelf, it was time to clean the restrooms again.
For the first time, he understood what was behind keeping a successful shoe store spotless. He also saw that just as he worked tirelessly, so did the staff and assistants.
He heard them speak of his father with great respect and admiration. He heard them make customers feel comfortable and cared for with their small talk and salesmanship.
After the blinds closed at the end of the day, Pedro’s mind opened up. He approached his father, exhausted and crying.
«Dad, I’m sorry. I realize I was immature and very rude. We have something our competitors will never have: the most attentive staff. And I’m terribly ashamed of the things I said to that poor boy yesterday…».
Mr. Garrido realized that his son was speaking from the heart. But he didn’t answer him because there was someone else he needed to apologize to first.
«Come in, little boy!» said Mr. Garrido in a loud voice. Pedro watched as the boy he had humiliated the day before came in with an old woman. Fear was reflected in his gaze.
«Hello!» greeted Pedro. Then he walked over to the boy and offered him his hand. «I’m so sorry for the things I said yesterday, it wasn’t nice at all! And ma’am, you must be his grandmother,» Pedro said, wiping away his tears and turning to the older woman.
«I just spent a whole day trying to do what you do for a living. And now I know all the effort and willpower behind it. I’m sorry I belittled you and your work!»
The old woman was distant as he took her hands and apologized. But on the boy’s face there was a cute smile.
«Now, boy, sit down. I have something for you,» the teenager said.
He whispered something to his father, and when Mr. Garrido nodded, he ran to the back of the store and pulled out a neatly wrapped box.
«Open it!» asked Pedro to the boy, with a mischievous expression in his eyes.
The boy looked at his grandmother and carefully opened the box. What he felt when he saw the contents was pure happiness — it was exactly the pair of shoes of his dreams!