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Young boy crying | Source: Shutterstock
Young boy crying | Source: Shutterstock

‘Clean My Shoes!’ Store Owner Hears His Son Mock Boy Whose Grandma Works as a Janitor — Story of the Day

Preeti Pillai
May 24, 2024
07:23 A.M.

Mr. Garrison decided to teach his teenage son a rather harsh lesson when he saw him insult a poor boy whose grandmother happened to be a janitor. But was the lesson learned?

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Mr. Garrison owned one of the oldest shoe stores on the block, and he never forgot how to serve a customer. He had earned enough to buy a house, invest in the market, and provide for his wife and son.

In 30 years, the store had never opened late, not a single box had a layer of dust, and every single person who walked in was offered a refreshing glass of orange juice.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

Perhaps that is why Mr. Garrison wasn't threatened by the competition that was cropping up a few feet away from the store. But his son, Peter, saw it as a wake-up call.

"Dad, look at that store! They've got the best lighting, only the biggest brands of shoes, and their staff is young and has a smart uniform…" Peter tried to get his father's attention to the store for the millionth time.

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"And look..even the customers there look well-off. They're not people who are "just looking." They actually have the money to splurge!" Peter got frustrated as he saw his father shaking his head.

"Like…look at this kid over here. He looks homeless. He's had no shame in walking into our store, but he won't stand a chance getting into the other store. You see?" Peter said, slowly approaching the boy.

A business is only as strong as the people who run it.

"Hey, you! Who told you you could touch the shoes?" he yelled, scaring the poor boy.

"I'm sorry. I didn't—"

"Are you trying to steal, boy? I think I should call the cops…" Peter pretended to dial 911 on his phone. He was beginning to enjoy the scared look on the kid's face.

"No, I didn't come here to steal. I came here to buy shoes. Mine are all worn out. And look, my grandmother gave me all her janitor money to buy them…" The boy put on a brave face as he opened his palm to reveal a few crumpled dollar bills.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

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But Peter had no interest in looking at them. "Janitor? Your grandmother works as a janitor, and you think you can afford the shoes we sell here?"

"But if you count the money, sir—" The boy's voice was breaking with emotion as he tried to explain.

"Who wants your money? But now that you're here," Peter said, noticing that he had the staff's attention. "Do me a favor. Use what you've learned from your grandmother and clean my shoes, will you? Consider it a discount for the shoes you want to buy, eh?" He smiled cunningly at the boy.

The boy looked at the people in the store staring at him and burst into tears.

"Didn't you hear me, boy? Clean my shoes!"

"That's ENOUGH!" an older voice roared through the silence in the store, scaring every onlooker.

Peter had forgotten that his father was in the store, too.

"Peter, I'm ashamed of you! You will NOT talk to my customer or any other human being like that!" Mr. Garrison screamed.

"So now, what? You're going to make me apologize to this nobody and make us shake hands?" Peter said nonchalantly. But the teenager had also forgotten that his father had a ferocious, strict side that still scared him.

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"Oh no, no apologizing. You, my dear son, will learn it the hard way," the man said and turned to his crew.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

"Gentlemen, tomorrow we will have a very special young man filling in for our regular janitor. My bright son, Peter," he declared, patting his son a bit too hard on the back. "He will take on the responsibility of cleaning the store and the inventory thrice throughout the day."

"And Peter," he added, looking the boy straight in the eye. "There are 12,342 boxes of shoes in this old, outdated store. I better not see a single spec of dust on any of them when I check tomorrow!"

Peter was terrified of this version of his father. He knew there was no arguing with the anger in his eyes.

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Mr. Garrison turned around and walked out, looking for the little boy who had quietly left the store.

The following day, Peter had to wake up before sunrise to get to the store and start cleaning. He used his anger to push through scrubbing the toilets and mopping the floor, but all that energy fizzled out in less than an hour.

Mr. Garrison made sure that Peter did not laze around for even a moment. By the time Peter had finished dusting every shoe box on every shelf, it was time to clean the bathrooms again.

For the first time, he understood what went behind maintaining and running a successful shoe store. He saw that just like he worked tirelessly, the staff and the attendants worked tirelessly, too.

He heard them speak of his father with great respect and admiration. He heard them make customers feel comfortable and cared for with their small talk and salesmanship.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

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After the shutters went down at the end of the day, Peter's mind opened up. He shuffled to his father, exhausted and in tears.

"Dad, I'm sorry. I realize I was being naive and rude all this time. We have something our competitors will never have—the most caring staff. And I'm terribly ashamed of the things I said to that poor boy yesterday…"

Mr. Garrison could tell that his son was speaking from his heart. But he did not respond to him because there was someone else he needed to apologize to first.

"Come in, little boy!" Mr. Garrison said out loud. Peter watched as the boy he had mistreated yesterday walked in with an elderly woman. The boy still had fear in his eyes.

"Hey, kid!" Peter ran to the boy and hugged him. "I'm so sorry for the things I said yesterday. I was incredibly mean! And ma'am, you must be his grandmother," Peter said, wiping his tears and turning to the older woman.

"I just spent an entire day trying to do what you do for a living. And now I know that there is a lot of skill and hard work to it, ma'am. I'm sorry I belittled you and your job!"

The elderly woman stayed distant as he held her hands and apologized. But the little boy hugged him forgivingly.

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"Now, kid, sit down. I've got something for you," Peter said. He whispered something to his father, and after Mr. Garrison nodded, Peter went running to the back of the store and brought out a neatly wrapped box.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

"Open it!" Peter nudged the boy, wide-eyed.

The child looked at his grandmother and carefully opened the box. The fear on his face instantly melted into happiness. It was exactly the pair of shoes he had been dreaming of!

What can we learn from the story?

  • Every job deserves to be respected. Peter had to go through an entire day working as a janitor to understand that it was not child's play or something to be looked down upon.
  • A business is only as strong as the people who run it. The naive teenager learned that his father's store was successful because of the contributions of every member of the staff who worked there.
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Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about an ambitious new manager who insulted and fired a respected old janitor at a store, only to see him return as her boss the next day!

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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