Image courtesy of Suat Eman /

My husband worked for a time selling men’s shoes at Nordstrom. While employed there he met Dan, whose job was to shine men’s shoes. Charles and Dan became good friends, trading jokes and jibes each day when they met in the shoe department. Over time Charles learned that Dan was a lonely guy with few real friends and little or no contact with his grown children.

One particular day Charles made a point of finding out Dan’s birthday. It was apparent to him that this crusty old codger would enjoy some acknowledgment. Dan was turning seventy—not a small milestone. The morning before the big day, Charles announced at an employee meeting that he’d have a cake for Dan in the lunchroom at noon. He invited as many as could make it.

The following day Dan walked in for lunch and was overcome with music, cake, and a bombardment of Nordstrom friends. He wept at the sight, stating in a wobbly voice, “This is the first birthday party I’ve ever had.” You can imagine how Charles felt. He’d followed his hunch and carried it out. A couple of years later we received an early morning phone call from the personnel manager at the store. Dan had died peacefully the previous day.

Now it was Charles’ turn to weep. A man unlike any Charles had known before had become a good friend and now he was gone. Meeting Dan the shoeshine man had changed his life. “It didn’t cost me a thing,” said Charles. “Dan gave me more than I ever gave him.”

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10




Shoeshine Man Dan — 12 Comments

  1. Dear Karen, what a beautiful story about friendship … I had tears in my eyes reading it … I’m touched and inspired to be a friend to others … and I knew just how much it meant to me when others did nice and great things unexpectedly for me out of the goodness of their heart … God’s grace shines everywhere in big and small things in such touching and moving way … Thanks again for the heart-inspiring writing. Jing

    • Thank, Jing. I remember being very touched by my husband’s experience with Dan. It was one of the great highlights of both of his life–and I believe of Dan’s too.

  2. I read this wonderful story with glistening eyes and then read it again. Thank you, Karen, for this poignant reminder of how God can use little things in big ways. I can’t imagine a first birthday party at age 70! I’m grateful God put Charles in Dan’s life to be his friend. I pray to always remember the story of Dan the shoeshine man.

    • Thanks for chiming in, Judy. God does work in such amazing ways, blessing people who feel forgotten when they least expect it. But as Charles admitted, he was as blessed or moreso than Dan.

  3. This sounds like the Charles I have known for 60 years !! I am so glad you shared this story!

    Thanks for sharing this.
    Love to you, Margaret

    • Thanks, Margaret. Yes, that’s Charles all right. He’s always on the watch for the neglected and then brings a smile to their face and words of friendship.

  4. I just read, “Freely you have received, freely give.” from a card someone gave me. It is so true how God blesses us through others and I think mostly when we don’t look for a return. This story was a great example of loving God. Thanks

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