Saturday, January 9, 2010

Economic Downturns (with apologies to H.G.)

I spend a lot of time on the road nowadays. I drive past closed businesses and boarded up homes. Everyday I speak with people who live with diminished expectations and reduced hope. My visits to people's homes have confirmed what I have long suspected, that people are living in fear.

A few weeks ago I drove past a barbershop to which I used to take my boys. This particular barber had been in business for more than twenty five years and had carved out a particular niche for himself. While liked the guy, his personality has some sharp edges and was, I had decided, ideally suited for self employment. So I was surprised to see a sign on his shop window announcing that he was forced to close his business and that he was now working for another barber located in another part of town.

Curious, I visited him at his new shop and had a cut and a shave...I had some time to kill and there is something civilized about having a shave...anyway...he had told me that business had dropped off dramatically, in part, he told me, that people were getting hair cuts less frequently in order to save money. I know that in my little universe, my grocer and pizza guy see me a lot less...and my butcher almost never.

I spent yesterday on the Cape, training a new salesman, someone for whom I had worked for several years. For twenty five years he had his owned business and reveled in being his own boss. The economy and an overzealous bureaucrat undid decades of work and now he is training for a sales job.

As we drove down to Osterville, I could not help but think about how things change and how roles can be reversed. I owe this man a lot. He trained me, gave me a new profession, allowed me to do loans for my sister and for a loved one at significantly reduced cost. Yesterday he did me another invaluable service.

While chatting he reminded me that life is about adjustments and that hopes and expectations are not tied to businesses or to bank accounts or to professional attainment. Instead, hope is tied to what we wish to become and the only expectations we should have are of ourselves and of what sort of men we want to be.

Hopes and expectations of this sort can weather any downturn.


  1. I agree though its tough to be so positive in the midst of crisis. We went house hunting today and are still uncertain if a mortgage is even in the cards for us... its stressful here in the crazy house!

  2. Hope. Prioritized expectations. Simple, yet so profound.