You’ve got a friend in me: youngster talks proudly of his mentor and friend

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

When Christopher Paden stopped by the Monticello News office on his bike on Friday, Dec. 27, he had a story to tell.
Paden, who is a sixth-grader at Jefferson Somerset, was currently out of school on his holiday break, and while riding past the news office, he realized that there was a story of friendship and comradery that he wanted others to know about. He wanted others to be aware of a friendship that had been cultured within the last few months and Paden felt as though his friend was worthy of recognition.
Over the last few months, Christopher Paden had formed a friendship with Jefferson County resident and Monticello business owner, Justin Johnson.
For the last five years, Johnson (who has been cutting hair for eight years total) has owned Johnsons Barber Shop, which is tucked away on downtown Monticello’s East Dogwood Street.
A few months ago, Paden says he was riding his bike around town and looking for something to do.
“We met,” Paden says, “because I was looking for something to do.”
With Jefferson County’s limited opportunities for youth, especially over the summer months or whenever school is on break, the plight of ‘needing something to do’ is one that many local youths understand.
Paden managed to convince Johnson to give him something to do, and ever since, the two have shared a bond of friendship that has proved quite meaningful for the young local.
“He cares and we make jokes together,” says Paden. “We go to the Brick House for lunch and eat, stuff like that.”
Whenever he has free time, is out of school and looking for something to do, Paden enjoys stopping by Johnson’s shop and helping out wherever he can.
“We clean up the shop together,” he adds.
Paden also had plenty to say about the skills of his barbering friend and mentor, attesting that Johnson knows his way around scissors and clippers.
“He likes to cut hair! Just look at all the customers he’s got!” said Paden. “He actually cuts your hair, instead of just chopping it all off.”
Despite Paden’s growing experience in helping at Johnson’s Barber Shop and spending time with his business-owning friend, Paden says he isn’t looking to become a barber when he grows up - instead, he’s set his sights on joining the United States Coast Guard. He doesn’t have any friends or family in the Coast Guard, Paden says, but he does have “a lot of veteran and military friends” and they’ve definitely left their mark in inspiring him.