The Down Side of Integrity

by Bill Maranda

Excerpt From, "Bill's Barbershop"

The Down Side of Integrity

By Wm. L. Maranda

As the premier barbershop along the southwestern parameter service is conducted Tuesdays through Saturday. The barbershop is closed on Sunday so the barbers can attend church services saving Monday for a much-deserved day of rest.

The church on the opposite side of West Avenue conducts most of their business on Saturdays, with several settings held every Saturday evening starting at 4 Pm and lasting well into the dark evening hours. There has been some discussion as to whether the Church should even remain open on Sundays, as there are now only a few short hours of business due to the ever-diminishing levels of participation. It seems that most attendees would prefer to just get it out of the way' by attending Saturday evening, leaving Sunday as a full day to do more important things, more fun things as well.

Each Saturday morning the human beings encapsulate themselves into the tight little Confessional, revealing to the good minister sins they have committed against God, The Almighty. They count off their standard deviations in anticipation of the customary repentance so that they may once again be replicated in the usual manner the following week. After the minister's familiar redemption blessing some of the men will shuffle across the street to visit Don for a monthly haircut.

This is where they tell the truth.

For they trust in Don, for he is a very knowledgeable man. Don is man of true integrity. This barbershop is perhaps the only place where the humans have found solace in an equal, willing to divulge their innermost thoughts.

My Webster's Dictionary definition of the word integrity reads like a mission statement;

"Firm adherence to moral values, incorruptible; an unimpaired condition, soundness".

For a synonym honesty' is given, where we find

"Fairness and straightforwardness of conduct, adherence to the facts, sincerity, chastity",

And this part I like the best;

"Integrity implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to the degree that one is incapable' of being false to a trust"

Yes, this is Don.

Don is incapable of presenting a false trust.

That's why we love him so. We truly appreciate his veracity. That's why business is always booming on this side of West Avenue.

We all like to converse with Don, even the most diffident among us, those that are hesitant to talk openly about them self, the ones that are so uncomfortable and uneasy speaking even with their closest friends. Don works his magic best with the ones that openly display this lack of self-confidence as he is such an amiable fellow.

And how about the ones that are a bit more talkative, the gabby, chatty loquacious ones?

Well, let's just say that for Don they make great sparring partners.

This definition of integrity may sound like the classic description of a boy scout. But the truth doesn't always workout that way.

And believe me, Don is no boy scout.

Oblivious to the tonal inflictions of prideful greed in our voice we Human Beings will confirm our sins to Don in search of the tiniest bit of reconciliation. For these sins, these many, many conspicuous sins are committed against our fellow Man on the Earth that God created for us to enjoy, not destroy.

Don is not one that would temper his accurately innovative thoughts and opinions squeamish in anticipation of a voluntary donation, as Don is not a wimp.

For a haircut cost what a haircut costs, but for the cost of a really good cut, who's to say?

Gratuity is optional, always has been, always will be, on this we all agree that we should keep it that way.

But the truth, the real honest to God truth, that my friend comes at a price everyone and anyone is easily able to afford, but few, very, very few are seldom if ever willing to pay.

This is not to say that Don promotes conflict. He merely induces a spirited conversation, taking it in whatever direction it may freely flow. He's the kind of guy that makes you think about what you've just said, to self-analyze your own words from your own mouth. He's the kind of guy that stimulates one to re-enter their own thoughts in a much more pervasive manner with heart in mind to detail the particulars of their own argument.

Yes, Don is quite the verbal sparring partner.

Maybe not right away, it may even take much more than a day, but from your original solid stance you will, as Don has so solemnly advised, you will begin to stray.

Don has confided in me more than once, "Sometimes there can be little comfort in the truth".

For Don will hold us to a much higher level of repentance than the minister, being an equal amongst many, many friends, true friends. When it comes to barbershop sins, unlike the big bulging church across the street, Don remembers.

You're not allowed to keep repeating the same old sins, because there's never been true forgiveness for the keep-repentant-sinner.

In a real barbershop one must actually make a decent, an honest attempt at being a better Human Being gravitating to lesser sins not greater ones, and that's the why' in what' forgiveness has always meant.

You'll need to add a few fresh ones to recoil your heart from your soul each month. Or is it your soul from your heart? I always seem to get those mixed up. I'll have to ask Don.

When we talk to Don telling Don the truth, we must beware. One needs to be forewarned. There's a small plaque on the wall the size of my hand many read and much like me don't fully understand:

When you capture a star from the sky,

Place it on your friends' heart.

You will see the truth.

The difficult part is not the grasping of the star,

But rather having the ability to withstand this truth.

Don will explain this riddle of Life in terms of integrity as the "Star" is a question that you are dieing to know the answer to, such as "Do you love me?" "Will you be mine forever?" Or perhaps a more pertinent topic, "Are you telling me the truth?"

It could be difficult or fairly easy to ask your friend these seemingly simple questions.

Once again, there can sometimes be very little comfort in the truth.

It seems that many of the humans that visit Don are much like me, that they truly want to be somebody else, anybody, anybody at all, anybody else but them self.

We keep searching for answers to serious questions, the questions that seem to take a controlling, dominating stance in our Life. We seek out those who we perceive to hold the correct knowledge that treat all with dignity, the ones like Don, those of true integrity.

Most of the good things in Life often have a down side, slight as it may be. Even with the very best things that Life has to offer. Like with the simple details of true integrity.

Because there is a down side to integrity as well, and that my good friend, that's the real honest to God truth!

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