When I was told that this month’s issue was about philanthropy and giving, I paused to consider what that would mean for me.
I am not a philanthropist, but I can relate to the act of giving and I learned some valuable lessons in the act of giving a kindness to someone in need.
It was a day in August some years ago in the middle of a heatwave at lunchtime in midtown Manhattan. The streets were teeming with people, including a man leaning against the subway entrance without shoes on his feet or a shirt to cover his back. He was covered in grime and the sweat was pouring from his body as he panted for air. He was barely conscious.
I stopped and watched as people passed by. Some looked at him with disgust and others with pity. I realized there I was standing in front of a deli. I don’t know what came over me, but suddenly I was filled with joy as I went inside and ordered a tuna sandwich and a bottle of water. I went out to him. I knelt down and put the bag with the sandwich at his side.
His eyes were closed and I feared he was expiring before my eyes, so I opened the bottle of water to put it to his lips and, as I did, his eyes opened. The gesture struck me like lightning. It was the purest spirit of love, shaking me to the core. As I walked away, I thought how so many of us are seeking a knowledge of something higher than ourselves, perhaps God or love itself, and there it was hiding in plain sight disguised as a derelict.
Now that for me was a powerful experience. But there are many subtle ways that we care for each other every day.
On a lighter note, it was a Monday morning when I knew the cold I had caught over the weekend would prevent me from keeping an appointment with a loyal client driving in from Albany. I called to tell her I probably couldn’t make it into the city for her appointment. She said, “Brian, I am already booked into my room at The Peninsula,” and then she was on her way to Washington for important meetings. She added, “Brian, I believe in miracles, so let’s see how you feel in the morning.”
Well, she was right. The morning came and I was feeling better. I understood this was important to her and was happy to let her know I was on my way.
When I arrived at the salon she was already shampooed. We were both quite happy that I had made it in. The point of the story is this: As I was cutting her hair, a little trick came to mind that I had forgotten for a long time that the master stylist Paul Mitchell taught me when I was a boy. It made the work better and easier and, at the end, it was probably the best haircut I had ever given her. But I got back more than I gave. At the close of our visit, we took many pictures and had so much fun enjoying our result. I am sure her meetings went well.
When I design a haircut, the shape and balance of the style is always dictated by what I see in the mirror. Your face and expression of personality are the starting points, but in the end it is how I see the hair moving as you go through the day. Let me say it this way: I will notice a woman at the checkout counter in the market looking closer into her bag for her wallet as she raises her head and sweeps her hand through her hair. In that moment of movement, a good haircut expresses so much loveliness.
Visit Brian at Warren Tricomi Salon, 1 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich. To book an appointment with him, call 212-262-8899.