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Job Interview

[whitespace] Dwayne Fields

Shoe Shined

He's worked his way through South Korea cutting paper silhouettes (a skill he learned from a friend in Russia), presented Muhammad Ali with one of his own paintings and had a bit part in Eddie Murphy's Metro. He's also an amateur photographer who has a few documentary film ideas, one that is so good it would probably be stolen if mentioned here in print. And so it seems shining shoes is only one part of Dwayne Fields' bohemian lifestyle. Associate editor David Boyer caught up with Dwayne one slow afternoon at his Financial District stand and got more than just a fresh coat of shoe polish.

David: What is your job?

Dwayne: I'm a shoe-care specialist. That's the new politically correct name for shoeshine man ... I made that up myself.

David: Do you like it?

Dwayne: I love it. I love the freedom, you meet interesting people and every day is payday.

David: How did you start?

Dwayne: I was out looking for a job and I wanted to get my shoes shined. I couldn't find a place anywhere, and someone told me to go to the Montgomery BART station. I came down here and [the stand] was all boarded up because Bob, who had this stand for 27 years, had died. So I got the idea that I could have my own business and that it probably wouldn't cost much to start it up. I subleased it for a while from [Bob's brother], and then I got the lease myself and bought the stand from him. In memory of Bob, I kept the name "Bob's Shoe Shine."

David: How long have you been doing it?

Dwayne: Over four years.

David: What's the most common shoe you see?

Dwayne: Black wingtips. It's like the official businessman's shoe.

David: If you weren't doing this, what might you be doing?

Dwayne: I'd probably be teaching English or history to high school students. That's what I did before, for six years. But to be a good teacher you have to be an entertainer. You have to have good material every day or else you're going to lose them. And I just got burned out.

David: Any place you'd like to visit?

Dwayne: I took a good vacation last year. I took off a month and went to Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam. The year before that I went to Amsterdam and Moscow. I'd like to go to India and Australia, but first I'll probably go back to Vietnam with my dad.

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From the April 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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