10. Toothpaste shoe polish
Sneakers and boots are issued as part of a convict’s uniform. In New York State, the white Converse clones, made in China, are handed out once a year. (When I began my bid, they were dubbed "Patakis" in honor of our governor. Spitzer didn’t last long enough for the appearance of AirEliots, but "Pattersons" and "Cuomos" made it into the parlance.) Wearing these shoes, however, is like being an Untouchable in the Indian caste system; any sneaker from the real world is preferable, even secondhand. And if you have one of these status symbols, you’ll want to hold onto it for a while.
Enter shoe restorers, who hack life back into tired kicks, carefully washing laces, shaving a layer off the soles to reveal a fresh white epidermis, and most important, brushing their teeth. An hour with a toothbrush and paste gives shoes a gleam; the same whitening molecules meant for enamel work on Adidas. When I saw my old Pumas, unmistakable because of their hideous color combination, on a stranger’s feet two prisons after I last wore them, they looked better than they did when they were in my possession.