Nick B.’s Words

In Interview on December 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Nick cuts hair in downtown St. Petersburg. About a week ago, I walked in without an appointment hoping to be squeezed in before the shop closed and Nick said I could come back in an hour. I said, ‘how about an hour and a half?’ And then showed up in an hour. After asking me what kind of cut I was looking for, I found out he was from St. Pete and had gone traveling around the country for a bit, but believed St. Pete is his home and every place turns out to be the same. In his words you get an apartment, a job and a girlfriend and live your life no matter where it may be. He also believes there are interesting people all over the place and you’ll find them if your eyes are open. My eyes were open. Here are his words.

Are you ready?

I am as ready as I’ll be.

[Laughs] Okay, how did you get into cutting hair, we’ll start with?

How did I get into cutting hair… Well, that’s a really silly story, anyways. Um, I wanted to be a rockstar and do mohawks and dye hair pink all day and be super co– I don’t know. It was like a punk rock sort of fantasy dream that I thought would happen if I became a hairstylist. Plus, I saw that movie um, that Warren Beatty was in called Shampoo where he was all smooth and doin’ the girls’ hair and he was.. I don’t know. Girls. What else does anybody get into anything for, probably. [Laughs]

True. How would you describe your travels up the east coast and out west?

I started.. I started from Savannah. I took a, it was when I was probably twenty. Took an Amtrak to Savannah and had a career change and walked to the train yard and rode my first train. And then hitched rides and rode freight trains all the way up to Maine. And it was, a lot of it was a lot of fun, but a lot of it was really tough. And really not fun. Met a lot of really cool people. Have a lot of cool stories. I mean, it was good for that, but it did make me realize how hard it was to be out there and by yourself and not have anybody or anything but what you have and what’s on your back. And on the way out to Texas, that was a fun trip. Texas was fun. I had a friend get hurt out in Texas– my girlfriend almost died on a freight train.


Yeah. Coming back down from Maine. So, that was pretty bad. Anybody that you know that rides trains or travels like that, if they’re in it long enough, they’ve either gotten hurt or they know somebody that’s gotten really hurt. I mean, I had another friend that was up in Minnesota that got sucked underneath a train and got both their legs cut off and died, so…

That’s rough.

It’s not as romantic as you think a hobo life would be. That would be what I would like to stress, is that it’s not a romantic, enjoyable life at all times. I’m sure I’ll catch some flack for that, but I had some bad experiences. The good ones are there, too, but the bad ones seem to outweigh a lot of the good when you’re out there like that.

Um, can you tell me a story about something that happened along the way? Anything that comes to mind?

Anything that quickly comes to mind…

Yeah. Something that you remember like, distinctly.

Uh, well, the very first train I rode is a pretty good story. When I got into Savannah, not knowin’ anything, me and my girlfriend, we’re gonna ride out first freight train, and we we were gonna do it and become hobos. So, we’re sittin’ out in the yard, watching these freight trains go by and we’re watchin’ them like, ‘should we get on them? Where are they goin’? What are we doin’?’ Like, had no fuckin’ clue what we were doin’ at all. It was like total just, ass-backwards like, learnin’ how to hop freight trains by yourself. So, we finally get the courage to go up into the yard, which is the train yard, and we sneak past this guy and we think we’re being super sly and we get into the train car and we’re hiding in here, we’re hidin’ and all of a sudden I hear a chu-choonk. And I look out of my car, and the train that I just rode is pulling away without my car on it.


And I look down and the guy that I thought I had been sly with, that I had walked past, I just see him look in and I catch eye contact with him and he bursts out laughing. He was like, “you can stay on that, but it’s not gonna move for another week.” And I’m standing there completely stupid, not knowing how to ride a freight train. And the one train that I finally get on after ten of em’ passin’ me is.. ridin’ off without me. [Laughs] Then he tells us where to go, he’s like, oh, we ask him like, we wanna go through Atlanta and we wanna go up the east coast. So, he’s like, oh, you need to get on this train. So, we get on the train he tells us and we’re sittin’ there for an hour. The train next to us leaves and we see it leave and it’s like, it’s gone. Then the train on the other side of us leaves. And it’s gone. Then we sit for another hour and our train does nothing at all. But by this point it was probably eleven or so, and we get off our train and as we’re walking out, that train pulls off. So there was no train there. And then finally after a whole night of just bullshittin’ and not knowin’ what we’re doin’, a train just pulls up and it stops right where we are and my girlfriend was like, ‘well, I think this is ours’. And I said, ‘yeah’ and we got on. And that was my first train ride. And it was pretty– it was ridiculous. It was some sort of, something out of some comic special. Watching the one train that I get on pull away into the sunset with me still sittin’ still. And the only thing I wanna do is move.

That’s wonderful.

[Laughs] It was not as wonderful being part of it until now. It’s a great story to tell people but, oh, it was so ridiculous.

I know what you mean. Like, after the fact it still kind of makes you cringe, but it is kinda, there is some comedy in there.

There was– there was a lot of comedy in there. [Laughs]

What’s something you tell yourself when things get really difficult?

Everybody else is havin’ just as rough a time of it. That’s pretty much what I always tell myself. That life is relative to everybody, and nobody in this world, no matter how good their life is or how bad their life, has any more or less suffering. And that the people that you think have it just as good, suffer just as much as the people that have it bad. That’s how I feel about it. I’ve been at the top and at the bottom though, so I got to see everybody from there and in between. I mean– I don’t know. I– it made me negative for a really long time, but it sort of became a positive thing to be able to know the things that I know and to have been at the level as the people that have nothing at the same time as being able to have an apartment and a job and I appreciate stuff a lot more.

Okay. Uh, what’s something you hope you’re still doing a year from now?

Goin’ to college. I hope I’m still goin’ to college. I like school. I pissed off from school for a really long time, like, I’m twenty-five now. I learned how to cut hair, then I blew that off and I went traveling. And then I came back and I cut hair and I just did nothin’ but drink and be stupid at work and, about a year and a half ago, I had the chance to like, come back home. My dad got sick and I moved in with him and he was like, ‘me and your mom will pay for your school,’ you know, ‘if you really wanna do somethin’’ and I decided to give it a shot and I loved it. And I hope that I continue with it and I get a degree now. I don’t know, that may sound– it probably sounds weird to say I guess for somebody, don’t go to school or not, but it’s been good learnin’ stuff and getting an education is just as good as learning stuff without an education. I don’t know; I like goin’ to school.

Okay. Um, finish these sentences. I’ve never really cared about:

Anything. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Anything?

I try not to– I mean I guess I care about stuff, but I try not to let everything bug me. What don’t I care about? I don’t know. Juggalos? That’d be a good one. That one sounds really punk rawk.

That’s right. [Laughs] I’m always hoping:

That I’ll get laid.

[Laughs] And at the end of the day, all that matters is:

Gettin’ done what I need to get done. I don’t know. Doin’ what I have to do. Bein’ responsible. That’s gonna be a big one. I’ve been trying to be responsible. Those are very 25-year-old responses. With gettin’ laid– I should’ve said something about drinkin’ beer, too, probably.

That’s okay. Alright. I think we got it.

I hope that was all that you wished it to be.


I didn’t really know what to say.

That’s– no, it was perfect. And I wanna say that in the beginning, when I like, mumbled to you about like, the creative process and daily life, I mean that‘s true, but it is also just recording people’s stories. That’s– if you wan– I mean if you wanna break it down, that’s what it is.

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