Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Million Dollars Worth Of Good....


Well, I sat down to listen to the shoeshine boy
And I thought I was gonna jump for joy
Slapped on the shoe polish left and right
He took a shoeshine rag and he held it tight
He stopped once to wipe the sweat away
I said you're a mighty little boy to be-a workin' that way
He said I like it with a big wide grin

It is unlikely that when Johnny Cash first sang "Get Rhythm" - a great little rockin' tune slightly more than two minutes long - Albert Lexie was the the upbeat, philosophical shoeshine boy about whom he sang and whose advice he shared.  Given that Albert Lexie has patrolled the hallways at the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with his shoeshine cart since 1981, it is not inconceivable that Cash's song served as an inspiration for Mr. Lexie's career path.    

You might have missed the story last week - I stumbled upon it in the on-line edition of the Los Angeles Times while standing at the deli counter at my A&P store on Saturday afternoon - about Mr. Lexie.  It is a story worth knowing - especially in these days of sequestration and other abject meanness and stupidity being foisted upon us by allegedly learned folks of various political ilks.  

Mr. Lexie has been shining shoes at the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh for more than three decades.  Every Tuesday and Thursday.  And while his rates are now more than the "nickel per shoe" in Cash's song, it remains a truism that no one goes broke paying for a shoeshine and that one gets rich performing them.  Well, as Mr. Lexie has demonstrated perhaps that second "truism" is not true at all. 

During the course of his time at the Children's Hospital, Mr. Lexie has grown into the hospital's unofficial Mayor.  In addition to shining shoes (at $5.00 a shine still a bargain in my opinion), he visits staff members and patients and brings toys to the small children.  No one who visits his stand is compelled to tip him.  They do anyway.  

In fact his customers tip well enough that Mr. Lexie - who has throughout his thirty-plus years donated every cent of tip money earned at his shoeshine stand to the hospital's foundation - has donated more than $200,000.    

The great Bernard Malamud once wrote, "Without heroes we are all plain people and don't know how far we can go."  Kudos to Albert Lexie for helping all of us get a little further on up the road than we might otherwise.  

-AK 


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