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Shoeshines ― like cobblers, tailors, and seamstresses ― have survived the test of time. Their work is personal; their work helps you put your best foot forward out into the world.


But travelers and passersby hustling through Washington, D.C.’s Union Station, can expect more than elbow grease and polish if they set aside some time for a shoe shine.

Especially if you happen to find yourself in Mary Bossard’s chair.

Bossard has been shining shoes for seven years in the busy D.C. train hub. She was intimidated at first — many of her fellow shiners have been at it for decades— but she said she can see how much her shines have improved over the years.

She likes playing a small part in people’s days — and their lives. She said that clients have come back to the shoeshine to share news that they have been offered a job or impressed a boss because of the shine glistening up from below.

Bossard says having shiny shoes shows the outside world that you care about your appearance and attention to detail, and many times, it works in a client’s favor.

“It makes me feel really good,” she said.

Unmatched positivity, kindness, and kindheartedness seem to radiate from Bossard, who studied theater at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Just start with her smile.

“I love coming to work every day, which is awesome,” she said. “Like, I see people complaining about their jobs and stuff, and I’m like, ‘I don’t actually have that problem, but if you’re here, I’d love to make your day a little better.'”

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Bossard’s advice is to reach for your dreams: if you’re thinking about doing something, take the leap and do it.

“You might get a couple steps not quite right along the way, but the learning will be worth it,” she said. “I think that everything, even when it doesn’t quite go how you were planning it, I still think everything works out how it needs to be.”

Allie Caren About the author:
Allie Caren is the Rare People editor. Follow her on Twitter @alLISTENc.
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