The Day I Invented The Swiss Army Shoe

Rameron Cameron-Bert’s career in public transport came to a sudden end when he fell asleep whilst driving a tram to Altrincham.  He had been in the job for an impressive two weeks but the boredom of going back and forth along the same track had beaten him and now he was jobhunting again.  He was trying to use techniques picked up from watching hours of hypnotic snooker on the television – lining up a new career but at the same time keeping in mind the one after that as well and trying to ensure he was in the right position.

“Another bacon butty Ram?”

He nodded and I threw some more bacon on the grill.  At the counter Rameron finished the last few bites and slid his plate across the counter.  It was his third butty of the morning.  What the hell, I threw on even more bacon.  It sizzled and began to curl and crisp.

“One pound sixty,” I told him.

He handed me the money.

“See, if you could get a job eating bacon butties you’d be sorted.”  I put the bacon between the bread and slid the plate back across the counter to him.

“Or maybe one making them…” he bit in to the stuffed sandwich and looked up at me.

“Come on, Ram.  I’ve told you.  We’re not that busy,” I gestured to the empty café.  “I’m sorry.  I can’t lose my best customer.”

“No, no, that’s true.”

The café remained quiet whilst he munched away and I flicked through the newspaper.  There was a story about a homeless man who stole noses from snowmen and got ill from eating too many carrots but not a lot of interest on the whole.

“I always thought I would invent something, you know.  Invent something and then live off the money, not bounce from job to job.”

“Invent what?” I enquired.

“I don’t know do I?  I’d have invented it if I did.”

“Yeah, good point.”

“Just something…” he looked around the room as if he would find some sudden inspiration from the drab, empty café.  “I always had lots of ideas and I thought one of them might end up being… I don’t know.  I did invent ‘the breader’ many years ago.”

“The breader?”

“Yeah.  You put toast in it and it turned it back into bread.”

“Oh, ok.  But… why?”

“Well.  For when you make a piece of toast and don’t really want it.  You might want to turn it back into bread.”

I was unconvinced.  “Did it work?”

“Well, it was basically a toaster turned inside out so it wasn’t brilliant.  It did turn toast back into bread but the bread wasn’t very fresh after that.”

“So, it was useless?”

“Well, the bread would have been ok for toasting.”

Rameron finished his third bacon butty and still looked hungry.

“Another one?”  I asked as he finished the last mouthful.

“No money,” he shook his head.

I looked around the empty room and wondered why I still opened day after day.  Maybe I should invent something too.  The rain was pelting down and the bin on the pavement was stuffed full with broken umbrellas.

“Ok.  If you come round here and make it yourself you can have it for free,” I told Rameron.

“Cheers,” he got up with a grin slapped across his face like brown sauce, “you’re a pal.”

Rameron came around to my side of the counter.  “There’s the bacon, there’s the grill, there’s the flipper, call me if you need me.”  I headed into the back room to do a bread and bacon stock take.  It was a few minutes later when I heard Rameron shouting me through.  I left my counting and went through to the front.

“Look!”  Rameron was pointing to his foot.  He had wedged the handle of the bacon flipper into the flap where the sole of his shoe was loose and was waving the flipper around in the air.  “This could be my invention.  What do you reckon?”

“It’s pretty unhygenic actually.  You’re going to have to wash that now.”

He pulled it out of his shoe and went to wash the flipper.  As he did so he carried on explaining.  “That’s not the whole thing though, there could be a … I don’t know, a tin opener in the heel and a … vegetable knife in the laces.  It could be like a swiss army knife, what do you think?”

“I think… well.  You want my honest opinion?”

“Please.”

“It’s pretty useless.  Chefs wouldn’t really use utensils they kept in shoes.  It just wouldn’t work.  Sorry.”

Rameron got back to making bacon.  He made us both a sandwich and we sat at a table near the window and watched the rain.

“Mmmm, this is a good sandwich.  Even better than yours I reckon.”

I didn’t want to admit that he was right.  But he was – the bacon was crispy yet tender and sank beautifully into the butter which had melted into the bread without making it fall apart.

“It’s ok,” I told him, savouring the butty with my eyes closed.

After we finished I shut the café for the day.  No one was coming in here today, just like every other day.  No one wanted my bacon butties.  I trudged home in the rain wondering if I was in the right profession – serving bad coffee and soggy bacon butties to a café empty with people had never been a career plan.  I got on with some decorating that I had been saving for a rainy day for three years.

By mid-afternoon I was enjoying myself, painting my worries away on my living room wall.  Then I ran into trouble – my paintbrush was on the other side of the room and I had paint all over my shoes from accidentally standing in the tin of paint a little earlier.  How was I to reach my paintbrush without trailing paint everywhere?

That’s when the idea struck me.  What if I could attach all the equipment to my shoes, a bit like a … like a … swiss army knife.  My mind reeled with ideas for my shoes but first I had to remove them to go and get my paintbrush.

I abandoned painting for the rest of the afternoon and holed myself up in the garage, tinkering with my shoes.  I barely stopped to feel bad about stealing Rameron’s idea and when I did I didn’t feel too bad, it wasn’t that similar a concept.

By the end of the afternoon I had created a masterpiece.  The heel of the shoe was now a set square and on the front I had attached a paint roller so that it was possible to paint with your foot.  An array of different types of paintbrushes were held in the laces and there was a pocket on the side for storing an assortment of screwdrivers.  For my final trick I had hollowed out the soles of my shoes and squished in a dustsheet which could be activated by a switch, allowing you to cover the carpet wherever you were painting.  It was the chitty-chitty bang-bang of D.I.Y. footwear.

I slept a contented sleep.

I visited the café early the next morning to post a note on the door – ‘CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE’ – then locked up and made my way down the street through the rain.

A familiar voice called my name and I turned round.

“I was just coming to get a bacon butty.  I got a new job in a mug factory.”

“Oh, hi Rameron.  Sorry, I decided to close down.”

We stood in awkward silence, no bacon butties to talk about.

“What’s in the bag?” he asked, eventually.

“This?  Oh, it’s… oh it’s nothing, nothing, just… nothing.”

“Oh.”

The rain fell harder on our silence.

“I had best just go straight to work then.  To my new job.”

“Yeah, congratulations on that.”

“Thanks.  I think it’s going to leave me well placed to move into door handles next.”

“Good.  Wow.  Good,”  I nodded.  “I had best go.”

“Yeah, see you around.”

“See you.”

We parted and I made my way to the patent office holding my creation and Rameron went to start his career in mugs.

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