The Slippers Man

Paul Keens-Douglas tries to economise in these hard times, but quickly meets his match

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You know something? The way things going these days, we all have to learn to economise, to save money. And one good way is to make clothes last longer, by taking care of them and fixing up the things that could get fixed in- stead of throwing them away.

Because you know what they say, we here in the West Indies are a “throw-away society”. Some people say that comes from carnival, because at the end of every carnival we dump all these lovely expensive costumes and start planning new ones for next year. Be that as it may, we should really try and make things last a bit longer before we throw them out.

With this thought in mind, I decided to renovate a pair of slippers that I had at home. Now this wasn’t just an ordinary pair of slippers, it was my favourite pair. As a matter of fact it was my only pair. You know how we all have clothes we like to wear all the time, and friends start to call them your uniform? Some people have a favourite pants or a favourite dress or a favourite shirt. Well, I have this favourite slippers. I bought it quite up in England, real Italian leather top and bottom. A lovely looking thing. I even used to polish it.

Well, I wore this slippers so much that the bottom got worn away, though the top was still looking pretty good. So I said to myself, in these hard times, instead of buying a new pair, let me fix up the old one.

So I took them by this fella who had a big sign outside his place saying how he could fix shoes. So I said to myself, if this fella could fix shoes, then slippers is joke, the man is a professional. So I brought the slippers to him. I showed him the problem, and told him all I wanted him to do was put on a new bottom. I even gave him a shoemaker joke about the West Indian who asked a shoemaker, “How much for a new heel?” The shoemaker said, “Five dollars.” The fella said, “How much for a new sole? “Fifteen dollars.” The fellow thought for a moment, then said, “Put heel right through! ”

My shoemaker laughed his bellyful and told me to pass back in a week.

One week later I passed back. If you see what the man did to my slippers. He put on one flimsy-looking sponge-bottom. It looked as if he had cut it out from an old foam mattress and stuck it on with glue. When I held the slippers in my hands, they started bending like they had a hard day and were very very tired.

Now I had given the man a leather slippers, with leather top and leather bottom, and he had told me he was a professional. So I said to myself this man must know what to do. And now he is telling me how I never tell him to put leather, so he put sponge.

If you hear me get vex. I tell him, “You too dotish. This thing come all the way from Italy to England to the Caribbean to your shop with leather bottom, so why you feel you must put sponge! And why you didn’t ask me what sort of bottom I want, seeing as how you is a professional shoemaker with a big sign outside your place? ”

He says to me: “Don’t dig nutten, ah go unstick it.” That make me more vex still. I said, “No thank you, you done spoil the bottom already, is the top you want to spoil now!”

So I took the slippers with its sponge bottom home. And every morning now it throwing me down. The bottom so soft that whenever I walk it bends and the tip sticks in the carpet and sends me flying. So I have to drag it. What I have is not slippers but draggers.

So when you think about economising and you bring your stuff to get fixed by these professionals, remember to ask plenty questions. Because in some parts being a professional is a profession.

Put heel right through, eh? I go put heel right through him, you watch and see.