Alienation (Part 1): The Cobbler

At the Cobbler's Shoppe(Image “At the Cobbler’s Shoppe” by John Hoey, CC BY 2.0)

I see you so frequently that I start to think of you as part of Water Street. You are always there, rain or shine. On cold days you sit there huddled in a thick jacket, on hot days you fan yourself as you work, on rainy days while others seek shelter, you are there in your dark raincoat, working as it rains.

You sit in that little space that is yours, working on shoes that your customers have dropped off. Fixing and mending as you bend over different pairs of shoes on the stool in front of you. I take notice because next to you are fruit stands and cha chaan tengs with people passing by all day. They are chattering and laughing and in the middle of all this interaction, there you are, quietly working by yourself.

I do not see you making conversation with the owners of the eateries next to you. I never notice anyone stopping by for a quick hello even as the ladies at the fruit stands discuss the horrible weather with their frequent customers. I have passed by you so many times and the only time I have seen you interact with someone was when that lady dropped by your corner with her high heeled boots that needed fixing. I heard you assure her that it can be done.

In a city where interaction with others is seemingly a part of life, I wonder why you are different.

疏離(第一篇): 補鞋匠

我常常都見到你, 所以我己經當你是水街的一部份了。無論是雨是晴, 你總是在那裡。在冷天,你擠縮在你的厚外套內, 在熱天, 你會手搖著扇, 在下雨天, 當他人在找地方避雨的時候, 你還是在那裡, 穿著你的深色雨衣, 繼續工作。

你坐在你的小小的空間裡, 為你的顧客留下來的鞋而工作。你會曲著背, 為你前面的凳子上的不同的鞋作修補。我留意到你, 是因為你旁邊有生果檔和茶餐廳, 整天都有很多人經過。他們一邊做生意, 一邊講笑, 喋喋不休, 而你卻坐在你的角落裡, 一個人靜靜地工作。

我並沒有見到你跟旁邊食肆的老闆交談, 盡管旁邊生果檔的女小販, 跟她的熟客討論天氣有多壞, 我從没見到有任何人跟你打個招呼。我行經你的身邊有很多次, 祇有一次, 一個途經你的角落而停下的女人, 要修整她的高跟靴子, 你才跟她說話, 說一定可以修理好她的靴子。

在一個城市裡, 人與人之間的溝通, 差不多巳經是生活裡的一部份, 我感到詫異的是: 你為何會是不同的呢?

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