Why is this Popular? Shoeshines

by Steve Mullaney

Say what you want about the economy, the environment and the political situation, but Guatemala definitely has the “our shoes are not shiny enough” situation under control. Unlike such places as Poland, Cambodia and Guam that rank low on the worldwide Global Shine Index (GSI), Guatemala has been in the top 5% of GSI for over twenty years. In other good news, Guatemala recently achieved “developed nation status” in the GSI indicator for varnish usage. Still, what gives? Why are shiny shoes so popular in Guatemala? This month’s Why Is This Popular? goes behind the polish to get you the honest truth.

1) Shiny shoes awaken the sexual beast within. It is common knowledge that to woo the guy or girl that you have your eye on all you need to do is show up with a pair of nice shiny shoes. He or she will totally be all “Mmm…I want to get some of that shine”. Paying extra to add varnish will seal the deal if you know what we mean.

2) Jay-Z. Unfortunately, in one of the most egregious examples of poorly dubbed music, the hook on 99 Problems was translated as “If your shoes are all dusty I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but no shine ain’t one.” Given the invasion of rap music it wasn’t long before the shoe shine trend caught on in youth culture and then spread to society at large.

3) Something or other that can be pinned on Alvaro Colom. We’re not exactly sure what he did this time, but considering that he’s been responsible for a pretty epic four years of suck, it wouldn’t surprise us if he were behind the “shine your shoes every day” social more.

4) The fact that the Guatemalan economy is dominated by a small number of families who hold monopoly over all industry and put a stranglehold on investment in education, thus causing a high number of adults who can find no work but shining shoes and children who drop out of school in order to earn a few Quetzales every day in the only industry truly offering work. Well, no joke here, but it is something to think about.

5) Live it up. You only go round once. Might as well get your shoes shined, grab a bag of Tortrix and crack open a Cabro. Then, find a hammock and look at your shiny shoes.

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