I’ve been looking for this gentleman for a long time! He is one of a vanishing breed, a roving amolador (knife sharpener) who carries his grindstone on his bicycle. Every now and again I’ve heard him blowing his distinctive tune on a tin whistle, letting anyone within earshot know that he is available. With one exception, he was always just out of reach, and that exception was when I was out walking, far from my knives.
But a couple of weeks ago, I heard him around our apartment and then actually caught a glimpse of him pushing his bike up the street on the other side of the complex. This precipitated a mad dashing about as my wife went sprinting out the door to catch him, while I hurriedly gathered all of the kitchen knives, wrapped them in a towel, threw on jeans and shoes and went racing out after her.
By the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, my wife had already flagged him down and he was just setting up. He flipped down his bike stand, looped a leather drive belt from his rear bicycle wheel up and around the grindstone’s drive wheel, and accepted our knives. Then he sat on the saddle and began to slowly pedal.
There is clearly an art form to this, and he is a master. As he pedaled, we peppered him with questions, the first being “May I take photographs?” He laughed and said that he hears that a lot. We asked him how many knives he sharpens on an average day, and he said it varied. “Sometimes, none. Some days, like today, I get lucky.” This day he felt lucky because we’d handed him five knives (and a tip afterwards).
A neighbor stopped to watch, and the amolador remarked that he’d be sure to come through our complex in the future. We hope he does, because after taking our knives upstairs, I tested them on tomatoes and they are like razors. Lovely!
He can’t be making much income, but I treasure the fact that he is still plying his trade. And my ears are always tuned for that distinctive whistle.