MONEY LESSONS FROM MY BARBER

This morning I got a much needed haircut at home from my barber. My hair had overgrown and a balding head was beginning to show. I first met this barber a few years ago in Gayaza trading center. He was working at a newly opened salon. I met him again recently through a colleague at work. Because of COVID the country has been under lock down for over three months and certain businesses like beauty salons are still closed with no clear end in sight. I struggled for a while to get a reliable barber during lock down until I met this guy.

As he cut my hair this morning we struck up a conversation. I inquired of him how business was doing. With a broad smile he told me business had never been better. He went on to narrate his ordeal. “A few years ago I got into the hair business. You know I stopped studying in high school but had no money to continue to college. I tried farming in the village in Kabale but there were many land wrangles. My father had many wives and children and when he died there was total chaos. So about two years ago my brother brought me to Kampala. My brother is a mechanic and owns his car garage. I started by washing cars at the garage but the money was too little.

After a few months my brother started having problems with his wife. My brother blamed me for his problems and he chased me away from his home.  I rented a small room there in Gayaza. A friend told me to try out this hair business and he introduced me to a salon in Gayaza.”

At he was trimming my forehead he looked around the compound and he exclaimed. “Boss I can see you are not doing badly. One day I will have a house of my own. I have always dreamt of buying my own car. You know, Boss, I used to wonder which kind of people live in this organised estate. But I now know you are just normal people. Before lock down I had opened up a new salon shop there in Nakwero. I partnered with a friend and tried to make our own way in life. Then this virus came and there was too much fear everywhere. Then the government ordered us to close our shops. I had never been so confused in my life before. I didn’t how I was going to feed my family. I found a nice girl here in Nakwero and we have a small baby. She comes from the same village in Kabale. I try to befriend all my clients. So when the lock down started one of my old clients who stays in this estate called me to his home to give him a hair cut. I was glad and quickly dashed to his place. I told him of my troubles and worries. He is a very kind man and I pray for him everyday. He promised to market my services on the Whatsapp forum for the estate. He advised to be very clean, wear a mask and have sanitizer on me at all times.”

“Boss how does it look?” he asked as held the back of my head towards an improvised mirror. I told him to reduce the hair level a bit. He obliged and continued his narration.

“Boss I was still telling you. When your friend posted on your Whatsapp group, people started calling me. Luckily I own my hair salon and I had all the equipment I needed. I have never been so busy. I have been cutting people’s hair in their homes for all these months. I have met so many people in this estate.

This crisis has been a blessing in disguise. I am forever grateful to your friend. Some of the people I used to work with were not so lucky. Some have since gone back to the village.”

“Boss is it now OK?” This time I nodded in appreciation. I thanked him for his service and handed him his 10k for his services. He bade me farewell and off he went to his next client.

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