September 26, 2019

He was old, silver-haired, bearded. 

Dim shop, shaking hands, old eyes.

Not the guy,
but maybe a close relative…

He watched me enter his shoe repair shop, in old Jaffa port.  He smiled. 

I asked, “Speak English?”

Shake of his head.

I showed him my broken backpack strap, made sewing motions.

Queried with upheld hands.

He gave a very Jewish shrug.   Got out a tangled skein of thread plus a large needle.

Twenty minutes to sort the thread, thread the needle. 

I said, God, you want me to help speed him up?  Leave for the other shop on Google Maps, 2 km away, Shoe Express?

A reluctance in my bones might best be translated,

“Wait.  Learn to be slow.” 

Words weren’t available, but when I tried to stand up, my knees didn’t seem to work.

Eventually, a murmur of triumph.  Needle threaded.

He fumbled for my backpack.  I showed him where the strap had snapped off. 

He put his threaded needle in another spot.  My phone light pointed to the right spot. 

He smiled, course-corrected.  Thick, callused fingers pushed and pulled needle through straps. I lit his finger-path.  We two old men cobbled forward a cooperative path .

He refused payment when I offered.

I dropped a ten shekel coin in the tip jar. 

Not neat, not crisp, not a pretty picture.  Slow. 

The strap holds, for now… but the strap was not the issue.

A lower layer, supporting my impatience, was the issue:  

Pride is about who’s right.

Listening to reluctant knees is about what’s right.