Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pay It Forward

I just came back from getting my hair cut. I have very short curly hair and need to get it cut at least every six to eight weeks. If I don't, I end up with Albert Einstein hair. He was a genius, no doubt about that, but he had really bad hair, no doubt about that either.

When I was working in California, I had my hair cut at a stylish salon in Los Gatos, and I paid stylish prices. Actually, I have had the same person cut my hair for 28 years. Dee is a very down to earth person who ended up, after renting a chair in a series of hair salons, in what has become over time a very posh salon. It wasn't this posh when she first started working there, but the business has been bought and sold, and now, after remodeling and adding more chairs and bringing in more "chic" stylists, the salon has become very upscale, catering to the wealthy people who live in and around Los Gatos. Fortunately, Dee has retained her sweet personality and down to earth attitude. She still cuts my hair exactly the way I want it cut and doesn't try to talk me into changing it for the latest style. I have had virtually the same haircut for 30 years, and I'm not about to change it now, or anytime soon.

After I lost my job in this current recession, Dee cut my hair for free. Several years ago, when I was unemployed over several months, Dee reduced her fee for me because I wasn't working. I have known Dee for 28 years, and consider her a more than just my hairdresser (she and her husband and young son came to my 50th birthday party a few years ago), but this gesture was very generous of her.

For Xmas, my siblings and I gave my aunt a gift certificate to get her hair done at her favorite salon in the Connecticut town where she lives. Her favorite salon happens to be in the basement of a neighbor's house, who is a certified cosmetologist and a wonderful person. Tula is from Greece and is a warm hearted woman who loves what she does and the people she makes look beautiful. When my hair started looking really wild, I made an appointment with Tula. We started talking and I told her about my life, my current unemployed situation, etc. I wasn't looking for a handout, I truly wasn't, I was just answering her questions. But this woman would not take any money for cutting my hair. TWICE. She simply told me that I when I came back for my next haircut and had a job, I could pay her then. She didn't want to take any money from someone who didn't have a source of income. I don't really even know this woman, she simply has a kind heart. I am simply floored that this kind of generosity exists in this day and age.

One of my sisters has long since implored me to believe that "the universe will provide". I refused to believe her for a long time, until recently. There are people out there who have wonderful hearts and want to help others in need. I believe that the majority of humankind wants to help those who are in need, as evidenced by the generosity of people in the U.S. opening their wallets to help the earthquate victims in Haiti.

While I am very impressed that we all donate so generously when disaster strikes, what about giving before disaster strikes? What about building roads, and schools, and hospitals in these same poor countries? What about educating the people so that they can have a higher standard of living and live in houses that don't pancake in a 7.0 tremblor? (The same level of devastation probably would not have occurred had this same earthquake happened in the San Franciso Bay Area.) What about providing a level of medical care in our own country to those working poor who can barely afford to put food on the table, never mind paying for medical care? Why are we less generous when it comes to prevention? Maybe its time we all thought about paying it forward....on a global scale.


  1. you raise some great points. it often takes a disaster for people to wake up to others. other times it is not so in your face and easy to walk by.

  2. In the long run, it would probably be cheaper to help before hand.