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Barber Not Green

Monday, September 16, 2013
Rudd Gonsalves

My name is Rudd Gonsalves and I run my own barbershop.


Ever since I’ve known myself I’ve lived in Diego Martin. I’m Diego to the heart. 


November will be two years I’m married and I love family life. I should’ve done it a long time ago. I don’t have any biological kids myself but my wife, Lisa, has a daughter, Amaya, 11.


I enjoyed my boy days and my man days. I played virtually every sport and I was a real party man. A lot of married men spend their time trying to escape from home. I think that comes from not having the right mindset. You might feel you could just stop the Casanova lifestyle on a dime, but you have to prepare yourself. It takes your whole cognitive focus, and it takes a while. 


I’m a happy person. Very. 


QRC [Queen’s Royal College] moulded me. Like marriage, I didn’t expect it to be that good! Winston Douglas was my principal. 


At the time, I would have boasted I was captain of the U-16 cricket team because of my prowess. But the team voted for the captain, and I could probably admit now I was captain because I was  popular with my peers. And that might have thrusted me into a position I was ill-qualified for. And the results might have shown. Although I did run Brian Lara out in one game.


I look at movies and say, “Wow. Two hours of my life down the drain!” I’m very, very critical. The English Patient, 15, 20 years ago, my peers ripped it apart, but I loved it. I look at acting.


I’ve been clean for 15, 16, 18 years. Getting a haircut is a problem for a barber, if you don’t have another barber in the shop. So you just take it off. And, in those days, Michael Jordan was a big star, so....


I saw a classified ad for Wesley’s on Gatacre St. I thought I’d pass through the barbershop, get a cut, do the interview, and go on to football. A friend advised me not to wear short pants. It was only then it dawned on me that I was really going on a job interview and I had to dress properly. 


I started working on Red Day, 19 November 1990. Trinidad had lost [itschance of going to the World Cup] the year before and they told us to wear red to commemorate us reaching that close. So I wore a red shirt to my first day of work. I got married on that day, too. I’ve turned November 19 into something positive for me. It’s my own Red Day.


I began as a barber on a commission basis. I didn’t rent a chair. It’s in your best interest to come to work early and work long hours. Within a year-and-a-half, I left and opened my own shop. I’m doing well, always busy, and the dilemma is moving away from customers who swear by you into management. 


There’s a framework of success: dedication; hard work; consistency; honesty; willingness to learn. Follow that and, any field that you enter, you’re going to be successful.  


I was watching an older barber one time. A woman looked in the mirror and said, “Oh my God! You cut off all my hair!” He said, “Let me finish it. Look at your head: what’s the worst could happen?” In my heart, I thought, “Gosh, he really lapse here, boy!” He finished the haircut and showed her the mirror. She turned around, touched her head and said, “This is EXACTLY what I wanted!” I learned a lot about patience that day.


I could work seven days a week, 12 hours a day and it’s not a task. It used to be, when I used to miss stuff. But, 22 years of not having a Saturday, it’s not important to me any more. I’ll go out to dinner or go out in the evening. You find alternatives. 


The best part of being a barber is the satisfaction of the customer being pleased. The bad part is the level of commitment. You don’t have a life. 


A Trini is able to overcome adversity with a smile. 


I might visit somewhere else but I don’t think I could leave Trinidad & Tobago. 


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