Last month, John asked if I could get the toes of his black sneakers restitched because the threads had broken. A totally cosmetic and easy repair -- two parallel lines of regular white thread. I knew I had walked passed a "cordonnerie," a shoe repair shop, in the neighborhood, but couldn't remember exactly where it was located. Found it in the French Yellow Pages, pagesjaunes.com, and visited it, an old-fashioned place, just a block away. Okay, simple job. Six euros, ready in five days. No problem. I finally had time to pick it up today.
Got a smile from the same employee to whom I had dropped off the shoes, but didn't get one from who I believe is the owner of the shop. This owner got the shoes out for me and showed me the work, which I thought was TERRIBLE. One shoe was passable, though the thread was too thick, the color was a little off, and several of the stitches were gone over twice, making it look really sloppy. The other shoe was worse. The two little lines that were supposed to run along each other parallel around the toe diverged in a very obvious way. I pointed this out, said my husband probably wouldn't be happy, and the guy got so defensive he actually started raising his voice at me, the customer! I didn't have the right vocabulary to complain properly -- I did my best and did retain my calm voice, but by the end, this cobbler was practically yelling at me. He said that's the best he could do, when obviously he did do better on the other shoe. Normally, I would get hot around the collar, but I stayed cool, paid the measly six euros, and left. Was that a look of sadness from the other employee? He knew I wasn't ever coming back again.