Opinion » Alta States

Amanda Stocks — a view from the chair

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Amanda first set up shop in Whistler on April 14," The same day the Titanic went down," she says with a wry grin. The difference being that Amanda managed to stay afloat. And prosper. "I guess I should be giving thanks for that," she says. "To the thousands of customers I've had... to the 40 or so barbers I've employed over the years. They've all contributed to my success." But what she doesn't say is how much of herself she's given to friends and colleagues during those same years.

Indeed, it takes a bit of prodding for her to acknowledge those contributions. "They call me the Barber Queen," she admits. "And that's because I've always encouraged members of my staff to launch their own businesses. And over the years I guess I've helped a lot of people get started." A pause. "Come to think of it, I've influenced a lot of people's lives..." For just a moment she grows quiet. And then she's off again, laughter following in her train. "That's what I'm all about," she says (with just a touch of irony in her voice), "Tell me your dream and I'll do my best to make it happen."

And yet... there's a lot of truth in what she says. This is a woman who cares. Who provides unconditional love whenever called upon. Take her current situation. "Well, a lot of my boys are getting older, you know. All my Peter Pans — my original customers — I'm watching them age... and grow lonelier. It's kinda sad."

Now based in Squamish — where her Harbour Barber is based — Amanda admits she's become something of a Mother Theresa for some of her "boys" forced to spend time at the local hospital. "A lot of them have to come down from Whistler for tests and stuff. And often they need somebody to be with them to sign out of the hospital." She sighs. "But these guys have no family — they left everyone behind when they moved to Whistler."

That's where Amanda comes in. "They call me. I sign them out... and then invariably they end up staying at my place because there's no way I'm going to let them drive back up to Whistler on the same day." She shrugs. "It makes me angry sometimes. Like I want to say: 'Hey Whistler. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? Pay attention!'"

But her good humour returns quickly. "Hey — if you can slip one more thing into your story," she says with a mischievous glint in her eye. "I'd love to see an end to this silly marijuana prohibition." A beat goes by. "After all, you know what my shop's motto is: 'For that buzz with a difference.'" Happy birthday Amanda.

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