Inspiring story of local barber's challenging journey

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Many people want a testimony, a story of overcoming odds and exceeding expectations, but not many of us want to endure what it takes to get one. There's a saying that a testimony doesn't come without a test. Barber Chuck Reid knows that as a train accident left him lost and depressed, but a sense of purpose rescued him.

Reid has worked at The Shop, a barbershop in Cape Girardeau, for 12 years and owned it for four, which doesn't seem remarkable at first. But Reid's story is remarkable. He performs this craft, which requires both talent and dexterity, with just one hand. The 1995 accident, which occurred as he took a shortcut on some railroad tracks at the age of 15, robbed him of his right hand.

Most teenagers would find such a visible disability disheartening. Reid was no exception. Formerly a high school athlete, he had to come to grips with not being able to do basic things, such as use a pencil sharpener, an embarrassing plight for a high school student. His story reminds us of the need not only for personal motivation, but motivation from others. Moving from Springfield, Illinois, to Joliet, a Chicago suburb, introduced him and his father to high prices for haircuts. At $24 a haircut, something had to give. That's when his father handed him his future without even realizing it: clippers on his bed when he returned home from school was a way to save money, but it may have saved his life.

With those clippers, Reid began to do what every one of us can learn from: He carved out his own future, learning the art of cutting hair, getting licensed after moving to Cape Girardeau and, most importantly, gaining confidence. That inspiration came from the example of those who also endured difficulty, like Aubrey Daniel, who was paralyzed from the waist down and who gave Reid his first job in the business.

Reid could have continued to feel sorry for himself, but instead, he chose to take his passion and make it work for him. Today, he owns that same shop where Daniel took a chance on him and also works as a behavioral health assistant at the Gibson Recovery Center.

Most of us prefer overnight success, but let's face it: That rarely happens. Reid's story is packed with trials, tribulations and even some failures along his journey. But isn't that what inspires us? What he is accomplishing teaches us that when we feel we have been dealt a bad hand, will never get the upper hand. With determination and encouragement from others, we can overcome and embrace our purpose. As we do so, our tests inspire others to endure theirs so that they, too, will have a testimony.

"If you feel like you've hit rock bottom, I've hit rock bottom," Reid told the Southeast Missourian. "And I know when I was at the bottom, I was able to crawl out the hole, and if I could do it, anybody could do it."

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