CHESAPEAKE - You might say I put my heart and "sole" into this week's job as a shoe repairman.
I trained with Roger Whitaker at his Chesapeake store. He started working at a store on Colley Avenue in Norfolk when he was 13 years old. That summer job took him through high school.
He left the business and went into the food industry. But after 25 years, Roger shuffled his way back to shoe repair. He opened up shop in the Great Bridge Shopping Center.
"It takes a person that's dedicated and doesn't mind to get their hands dirty and don't mind a challenge and don't mind people because you have a lot of your clientele especially shoes that they have had for awhile," he said.
There are patching machines and stitching machines and a a green cutter. The big, loud machines get most of the work - they do the finishing and buffing to make the shoe look nice and shiny.
Whitaker told me the rubber used to resole shoes is Goodyear rubber. That was interesting. I thought all they did was tires and blimps and sporting events.
Whitaker's business is a family affair. I was working with Roger's wife Julia and his nephew Ryan.
Customers come in to get new soles for boots and shoes. Ladies often need a high heels makeover. To fix that, a new piece is hammed in and trimmed down.
"I love to take in work that maybe other shops refuse to do or say can't be done," he added.
His wife Julia said, "It takes a dedicated person, a person with years of experience and knows what they're doing."
From loafers to heels, I was trying it all.
"That's good, Joe! Not bad at all. First time on the machine too wow. Great!," Roger remarked.
How would Roger rate me as a shoe repairman?
"I think you would do great, Joe. You have a great smile! That's the key part right there - people person. Customer service is what we need more of to get back to, what's important in this country," concluded Whitaker.