I can't paint to save my life.
Perhaps you think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. Imagine a dentist trying to perform open heart surgery. That might actually be a little less messy than me painting.
When a few different realtors advised me to paint the dark wood paneling in my sunroom before putting the house on the market, I faced a conundrum.
Conventional wisdom (and the DIY Channel) would say "do it yourself." Common sense told me I should hire someone.
After putting it out there on Facebook...a friend of mine told me about HIS friend, Chris Olson - who runs his own business, Olson Custom Painting. Gotta love word of mouth.
I had actually met Chris before - he did all of the painting for Vito's Restaurants. Considering that I was familiar with Chris and his work (and his rates were unbeatable)...I decided to hire him.
On Saturday, Chris called me up and let me know he had about an hour of work left to do. He offered me an option: he could finish it up on Monday, or he could finish it Saturday morning if I didn't mind his 9-year-old son coming along. I told him his kid was more than welcome at my house.
I've met some great kids in my life - but this little guy blew my mind. Not only was he fairly fluent in Spanish, but he even gave me advice on how to dive into a lake and not get water up my nose. Little genius.
His dad let him paint a small area and he was thrilled. He did a great job, so I gave the little guy $5 for his good work.
His eyes lit up as he stared at the money for a minute. A big smile crept over his face. Then...he looked me in the eye...and tried to hand it back to me.
"I can't accept this, sir. You already worked out payment with my dad," he said.
Then he explained to me in more detail why he couldn't take my money.
"My dad pays me by buying me things that will last longer, like clothes. Kids do dumb things like waste money on chocolate. So it wouldn't be right for me to accept that money."
Needless to say, I was dumbfounded. I insisted he take the cash anyway, and he finally relented after his dad gave the approval.
But it didn't end there.
A short time later, I offered the boy something to drink or some snacks while he and his dad finished up.
His response was priceless.
"Excuse me sir - but I will NOT take your stuff. My dad and I aren't freeloaders. We won't come in here, eat your snacks, drink your drinks, take your money and leave. We're here to work."
I told him how impressed I was with his attitude and work ethic. That was when he let me in on the secret to success.
"Do you want to know what our business philosophy is?" the boy asked.
Smiling, I told him that I'd love to hear it.
"Our business philosophy is 'we treat people like gold.' Dad said as long as we stand by that, we'll never have to advertise," he said.
They left a short time later. The work they did was incredible and the rate was more than fair. But more importantly was that I felt good about having done business with them.
There's something beautiful about a parent teaching their child a trade...and more importantly, values.
This kid could have been at home playing video games. But he wasn't. He was following in the footsteps of his father, whom he described as "the best painter in the world."
Well, kid - he may very well be. But even more importantly, he's a shining example of one of the very best fathers in the world as well.