A couple of years ago, I was walking around my neighborhood, and happened upon a couple of young kids, maybe 8 to 10 years old. I had a nice conversation with them that day, but did not get their names. Over time, I came into regular contact with one of the boys and learned that his name was JJ. It just happened that JJ would be around the area playing and such at the times when I would walk through. I regularly walked through the area going to catch a Jeepney, or just walking for exercise.
Whenever I would see JJ, I would always say hi to him, maybe exchange a bit of small talk. Over time, I introduced him to Feyma and some of my kids. When Christmas came around, I bought a basketball for JJ. That was during December 2011. I continued to see JJ during my walking for many months to come, but sometime around September 2012, or so, I realized that I had not seen JJ in quite some time, so I was wondering what had happened to him. I mean, for a long time, over a year, I had been seeing him almost daily, and suddenly he was gone. I hoped he was OK.
I figured that JJ had moved away, but whenever I walked through this little area not far from my house, I always saw lots of kids. They knew that I had bought a basketball for JJ, so they were always friendly. I suppose they were probably hoping I would buy them some kind of gift, although I never developed a close relationship with any of the other kids, so never felt a need to purchase anything for them. The place where all of these kids live is a small “market area” sort of a mini-public-market of sorts. You can buy veggies there, chips, crackers and such. It’s sort of a bunch of sari sari stores all in one area. The families living there and working there are poor, but nice people and had always been friendly to me.
A few months back, as I walked through the area, on my way to the Jeepney stop, I noticed that a small barber shop had opened up in the midst of the little stores. I thought about stopping and getting my hair cut there, but I already had a regular barber that I went to, and I was happy with him. I even considered him a friend. However, over time, I was having trouble getting my hair cut at my regular place, because every time I would go there, there were no barbers on duty. I don’t know what happened, but the barbers just never seemed to show up for work, or at least were not there when I went there. Usually, they would have 6 to 8 barbers on duty at any time, so I found this surprising.
One day, when I went into the city to my regular barber shop, again there were no barbers there. I was starting to get a little upset about making the trip to the barber and not being able to get my haircut. So, I decided to go to this new little barber shop in my neighborhood and see how they were. I was a bit worried, because it was such a simple little place and there was no air conditioning, so I hoped it would be comfortable. When I went there, I met the barber (they have only one), his name is Erwin. I met Erwin and had a nice talk with him while he cut my hair. I found the place comfortable and friendly. No aircon, but they had a couple of ceiling fans that kept the air moving nicely, I felt comfortable enough.
While having my hair cut, I asked Erwin if he knew JJ. He did not know who I was talking about, even though I described JJ to him. His shop had opened after JJ was already gone, so I could understand why, though.
I liked the Barber Shop, St. Nicolas Barber Shop, enough that I started going there regularly. I liked the idea of building more friendships in the neighborhood, and also keeping my money local with the people around me. Anyway, on, I think, my third visit to have my hair cut, two young girls and a boy came in and started watching the barber cut my hair, which was not unusual. But, Erwin told me that one of the girls was the sister of JJ. So, apparently after Erwin must have asked around about JJ, since he did not know who he was before. I talked to JJ’s sister, Princess, and she told me that JJ was living in a different location now, about 3 or 4 miles from our location. He is attending a different school over there. So, now, I have a few new children friends there at the little market. Whenever I pass by now, those 3 kids always say hi to me.
I have to say, I enjoy meeting people around the neighborhood, and I also feel that knowing my neighbors is a nice way to build a nice reputation around the neighborhood, and have a few more friends. I am happy with the barber service that Erwin gives me, so I’ll keep going back! In fact, I was just there for a haircut today! Thanks for the good service, Erwin!