You can still find cobblers plying their trade on the streets of Singapore. There are not as many as there used to be. In fact, finding one is difficult. Finding a good one is even more so. My friendly neighborhood hawker stand lady suggested I try the shops at Tanglin Halt. In a spirit of “why not” I set out on a quest.
To my surprise, I found someone that defies all the images that I had with me. Now that I met him, I am not sure what I expected.
I met a man that cared about his work. He was knowledgeable, proud, and opinionated. He knew what he was talking about with stories to illustrate the truth within each point. As chaotic as his movable office on a sidewalk was, it had an organization that allowed him to find anything he was looking for.
I met a man that cared about his customers. He hates to see them waste money. He values their loyalty. He is proud that he has customers that still bring him business even though they can afford to pay more. In contrast to greed and comfort, his loyal customers come from all over town. With a spirit that is increasingly unique, the price does not change just because they can afford to pay the money.
I met a man that cared about his appearance, in a casual working kind of way. Shorts and a singlet could be expected. The well-kept, jet-black hair, fashionable white reading glasses, and perfect teeth were not. While there was nothing that looked expensive or new, everything seemed to fit with a man in control. He had an image within his mind and he was living within it.
As we talked, of shoes, customers, and doing business, I realized that there was much I could learn from his example. David’s words echoed in the back of my mind; “The chariots will rust, those horses pull up lame – and we’ll be on our feet, standing tall.” (Psalm 20.8) He is just a cobbler, well maybe not.