What an exhausting couple weeks. One good thing - I will get Thursday off for Thanksgiving. I really have put a lot of things on the back-burner, including this blog.
It really has been one of those years where you stare at the calendar and realize there is only one month left - and the last month usually flies by because of the holidays and preparation for Christmas, etc. I don't know about you, but I often find myself at the beginning of every year telling myself everything that I want to do, and then the end of the year comes around and I realize I didn't really get to do anything at all.
I recently won a bid for a building in town. If you go back through this blog, or have been hanging out here for a while, you'll realize the stress and frustration I had with the landlord of the place where my shop was at. After the first year and a half I never really had a permanent landlord. I went through a development company, three different BK attorneys because the development company folded up, and eventually the village purchased everything. The big picture is that I had to take care of all of the maintenance, but wanted to do it smart because I never knew when I would be thrown out. With that said - the building came up for bid again and I was the only one that bid on it. After four months of working with a local credit union and a bunch of paperwork, I finally was able to close on it two weeks ago. The building includes my shop, a storefront that used to house an insurance office, and two apartments. The separate building that houses my barbershop definitely needs some work, the office space is in good shape, and the apartments included basically need almost completely gutted and redone. I did a walk through yesterday and basically grabbed the back of my neck for the most part, thinking - oh my god, how am I going to get these fixed up, rented out, etc.
In the middle of the day, I had a hair cut from a fellow that is homebound. This guy happened to be Mr. Amato. I've knew of him and his family, who maintain a good reputation in our area. One is an attorney, the other a recently appointed judge, another was married to the late chief of police, etc. This man was the same guy when younger who managed to crack a bunch of cases and take down one of the most notorious bank robbers, Pretty Boy Floyd. This was the first time I actually got to meet him in person and clean him up. His normal barber was under the weather and his daughter got in touch with me. Mr. Amato lives a very modest lifestyle. He still lives in a house where he raised his kids. His daughter explained to me while she was transferring him to a wheelchair that he takes almost 40 different kinds of medicine a day and showed me all the boxes of medical equipment. Meanwhile, he just smiled at me and shook my hand. I asked him about football and he just smiled. He has been this way for quite a few years, but you can tell alot about a person when you look into his eyes. I've really admired the story of Mr. Amato for years, but getting to meet him and stare into his eyes really let me know what a tough son of a bitch, loving father and husband, and just great guy he really was. I'm not sure how he usually liked his hair cut, he couldn't tell me and his daughter just wanted to make sure it was cut for the holidays. Being a barber, I just wanted him to feel better and look good. I did my best.
I got a call when I was done with Mr. Amato from some guy that had to go to a football banquet and went to the Walmart Supercuts and wasn't happy with his cut. I met him at the shop directly after that. It was a guy that I actually went to school with and being from a small area, knew many of the same people. His hair was pretty messed up when he came in to see me, but I've been doing this a while and was able to get him right. While cleaning him up, we started talking about some people. Most of them were dead, fighting addiction, or in prison. We joked that it could be us. Silence fell after the laughter because we both knew that was true.
So I finished the cuts up, went home to kiss my son and wife, and ran up to Minerva to fix a door for a guy up there. While I was driving I kept thinking about the conversation we had about everyone that has passed away or was stuck in prison. I also thought about Mr. Amato and the successful children he raised. A few hours later I was bitching to myself about working on an investment. Then it hit me. I'm not supposed to be here. Not supposed to be blessed to have my own businesses, properties, dreams and ambition. The odds are stacked against all of us. Be Thankful. Not just about your turkey or eating yourself to gluttony. Be Thankful for everything, the good and the bad.
Monday, November 2
Each year I collect used costumes to redistribute to local families so their kids have something to wear on Halloween. The past two years I've managed to wrap my wife into the mix as well as get a few folks in Northern Ohio to get in on the action.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again - it's a blast! Some of the people I got to meet and the stories I heard were heartfelt. This year with adding a demanding job, businesses, and my 2 year old son into the mix, things were a little different. I didn't get as much time as I would have liked to dedicate to organizing, promoting, and working the heck out of this project. Next year will be different, but this year was still fun.
I had some costumes left over from last year that we pulled out, but again relied heavily on social media and a few craigslist ads to get the word out. The folks in the area know that we do this every year, it was just putting out a simple reminder. I'll say we didn't get much in the way of extra costume donations this year. I've beat myself up on this because I didn't get a jump start on it. We did have a local non profit drop off ten brand new costumes, a few folks dropped off some used costumes, and I spend a little over $200.00 on buying some more.
The costume give away was sporadic in Wellsville. I simply posted on Facebook and Twitter that we would be giving out free costumes at 6pm. We took my son to the pumpkin patch early in the day that Sunday and by the time we got back it was 5. I checked social media and there were over 100 likes and well over 350 shares. I knew we were in for it.
Everything was housed in the back of our tanning salon. By the time we got there at 530 there was already a line out front of eager kids. My wife decided she wanted to try to police the situation and help find costumes. This was the worst idea ever because there were a few hundred people in line from front to back and outside. I held my son and basically warmed up the folks in line and made sure they got candy when they left. It was a blast.
The folks up north did not have much success and cancelled one of their handouts that I promoted. I spoke to the guy that runs in and it he got frustrated because he found a few of the costumes on the 'buy sell trade' site that people had gotten for free and were selling. That pisses me off, but it's only to be expected. I can't be mad at the hustle - just mad because people take advantage of situations in our society nonstop. They cancelled but I'm really not sure why - but they seem to be more focused on the organization instead of the cause and fun it brings. Things will be better and larger next year - that I promise myself.
One good story was a guy I met that brought his kids in that was standing up against the wall. He got pneumonia
All in all there were over 400 costumes that were given out - which is awesome. That's 400+ kids that parents didn't have to worry about spending money on costumes or that might have not had costumes at all. The smiles and laughter are priceless.
Monday, August 31
It's that time of year again. All of the kiddos head back to school and some parents can take a breather. Since opening in Wellsville almost 6 years ago, I've given free cuts to several local areas for those kids heading back to school to ease up the financial burden that comes along with it.
This year was no exception. I've reviewed the list of "needed" items for those going back to school. From preschool to Seniors. To say the list is insane or the fact that we pay taxes and still have to shell out over a hundred bucks on additional school supplies is just, well, crazy as hell. Since when is it imperative for a kid to take their own 5 gallon bucket of Purell to school? Oh well.
This year I was gearing up for a few free cuts and things just started pouring my way. About a month and a half ahead of time I got a text from Bill Crawford, the founder of The Team Mojo Foundation asking if I could help them out at the end of August. This is a guy that I really look up to around here and I would basically do anything to help out because I really believe in his positive messages, activities, and just way of thinking here in the valley. Absolutely is what I told him. So I was penciled in for an event for free cuts.
Two weeks ago a friend of mine casually brought to my attention this barber from Iowa named Courtney that lets gets kid free cuts if they read to him. Normally I just cut them up for free without anything at all but I really liked this idea. I'm big on earning and learning when you're young. I created a quick picture and shared it on my business' page on Facebook and tossed it out on twitter. I went in that Saturday armed with my own books, but had an overwhelmingly great response of kids who brought their own books and read as I cut their hair. I even had a woman tell me - "this is great - that's gotta be the first time he's read all summer." I thought that was funny. I quit counting after 18 or so kids that day but there were plenty and it was a blast.
A few days later the event that I mentioned Mojo asked me to do came out of nowhere. I totally forgot about it and didn't move my work schedule appropriately for my corporate gig. This was an annual Back to School Bash that the local First Christian Church puts on. I'm not what you would call a devoted Christian or religious guy - but I do look up to these folks because they are always positive, upbeat, and most important have a bunch of activities they try to get going in town - including once a year where a bunch of volunteers get together and clean up the town. This year was different because they got together with the school administration and had everything in the parking lot of the school. I was running late because of work but the amount of people there was crazy. Everyone was laughing and as I ran around the building I was blown away - there were tables set up with various groups and organizations handing out promo stuff, a bunch of games, a dunk tank, free food, free backpacks full of materials, etc. It was just awesome. I set my stuff up in the back and just started cutting. They weren't the best cuts I could deliver, which bothers me as a professional barber, but under the circumstances they got the job done. It was windy and by the time I was wrapping the last 5 or so up it was dark out and the only light I had came from a nearby Popcorn Machine. It was a challenge but it was a blast.
With that said - people only ever ask about the number. "How Many". I have no clue. I never count. Also - any time people say 'good job' or 'that was nice' it makes me feel like a real blowhard asshole because I don't want recognition or my fat head on the front of the review or a news channels website. I just want people to be a little less stressed out in a repressed area that I call home. I never remember how many, but I remember the good stories. Like when a kid gets to college or gets his first job that came from a rough background and he slips me money for a haircut and says "Man - JC used to cut my hair for free and kept me fresh cause we couldn't afford it" or that single parent or family going through stuff that tucks back a few tears or that quick hug from the single mom with a few kids really roughing it through life. It's not about a haircut. It's about loving each other, helping people out when you can, knowing right from wrong, and leading by example.
love life.. study hard!