The Wisdom of Barbers

Bugs Bunny forces Elmer Fudd into a barber's c...

I’ve been getting my hair cut by Tommy the barber for a long time.  Tommy is old school and I’ve written about him before. In all candor, he doesn’t give the greatest haircut but he is among the greatest of guys so I’m with him until the day he quits which, since he’s around 75 now, should have been about 10 years ago.  He won’t quit because, as he puts it, other people (his staff and customers) are depending on him.  This customer depends on him for philosophy as much as I do tonsorial expertise.

The last time I went in to see him, we were discussing Joe Torre’s book.  We’re both rabid Yankee fans and the revelations of rampant steroid use in the book were disheartening.  Tommy’s response, however, was enlightening.

These ballplayers are just like them bankers,” he said.  “They knew what they was doing was wrong, you know?  It’s not exactly against the rules, but they knew it created problems.  They all got the attitude that they leave it for the next guy.  Don’t matter as long as they make out.

Brilliant connection.  Many of our biggest issues are created because people focus only on themselves and short-term, whether they’re ballplayers or bankers.  That’s so not Tommy and it’s so not any business which wants to be successful over the long term.

I don’t buy the whole “we need to cheat to keep up” thing.  If you don’t think it makes a difference, how do you feel about McGwire and Sosa today vs. how you did at the time of the great homer battle?  Think the employees ex-employees of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG are happy their guys cheated?  I know my 401K isn’t!

Great teachers are all around us and as Jerry said:

Once in a while
you get shown the light
in the strangest of places
if you look at it right!

Heard from any great philosophers lately? What did they have to say?

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