Arturo as it turns out is one of those extremely rare individuals who when given a task delivers a result that so far exceeds expectations that it borders on sheer genius.
Like with all good stories let’s start at the beginning.
One of my ultra-high tech minimalist running shoes got a severe puncture in the bottom. Keep in the mind that the sole is made out of that legendarily tough Texas Vibram brand material so I was somewhat dumbfounded that they failed so spectacularly. They might have continued to have held up under a less stringent service but these rocks that I run on here in Michoacan – in what I call the devil’s own playground – was obviously more than they could take.
Hell, it wasn’t so much a puncture as it was a gaping flapping hole. I was going to just throw the poor bastards away when I decided to see if my running neighbor, Max had any use for them – as a reference point or as model or whatever – but he pointed me to Arturo.
I stood there quietly shaking my head as Max tried to convince me that Arturo could fix them. He went and got a pair of his motorcycle boots out to show me the brilliant job that Arturo engineered to bring about the resurrection to another seemingly calamitous failure.
So anyway, I went to see Arturo yesterday and showed him the problem and asked in a doubtful voice if they were at all fixable.
He rummaged around in a drawer, produced a thin piece [sidewall] of airplane tire, and said, ‘Yeah’, he could fix them.
I knew all about airplane tire, that’s the only sole that I have put on any of the sandals that I’ve built since I’ve been here. Airplane tire is so strong and durable because the material was designed to operate in one of the most stressful operational services in the world.
The airplane tire thing made perfect sense – light, thin, durable – but the single thing I couldn’t reconcile was just how he was going to attach them to my shoes. He probably couldn’t stitch them on because the upper was a nylon type synthetic that probably wouldn’t readily lend itself to being reworked. That meant he’d have to pave over the existing soles.
I left the problem with him.
This afternoon I picked up my repaired shoes. The results were nothing short of genius. The workmanship was so impeccable that you couldn’t see any seam or the method by which he attached the new soles.
The only discernible difference was that my high-tech running shoes now sported a waffley low-tech tire bottom as opposed to the original dimpled Vibram bottoms.
I looked at them, turning one over in my hands, and asked if the two adjoined soles could separate; erroneously thinking he had merely glued the two pieces together.
His dark eyes twinkled and a big smile formed behind his walrus mustache. ‘No’, he said. The two pieces were vulcanized together and they would never separate as they were effectively now just one piece.
I thought to myself, ‘Holy shit!’ Just how did he do that without melting the shoes down or setting fire to the highly flammable synthetic upper?
I still don’t know. Does he have a special machine or what?
And I am in awe because the running shoes are probably way better now than they were when they were brand new.
PS – In the US, you’d have just throw them away and gone out to buy a new pair. So I find it highly ironic for all of America’s societal yammerings about recycling, most everything including the most basic of manufactured commodities (like shoes) still end up in the landfill. And perhaps even more ironic is how a high-tech nation like the US lacks the low-tech resources to fix something as simple as a pair of running shoes.
Sorry, that’s not irony. That’s hypocrisy.