NEW ORLEANS—One New Orleans painter is all smiles about his future, even though he's missing three teeth. But for years, Brian Upton was wondering if he'd ever get to grin again.
"People don't want to hire you. The think you are on drugs. I'm not. I just got hit by a car," Upton says.
The accident happened a few years ago in the Marigny. Upton was riding his bike and collided with a car. He says he messed up his shoulder, punched a hole in his head, and lost three front teeth. Now, he's self conscious about smiling and says people often think he's mean or unapproachable.
But Upton also knew he couldn't afford the thousands of dollars needed to get cosmetic dentistry. So he decided to take an age-old technique to a high-tech forum, www.craigslist.com.
Upton posted an offer online. He'd provide substancial painting or wood staining for a dentist who would, in turn, fix Upton's grill. Bartering, like your grandparents may have told you about. Upton said for nearly a year and a half, he couldn't reach a deal.
ABC26 News anchor Curt Sprang profiled Upton's story in October 2008. But recently, Curt stumbled upon the perfect ad on Craig's List to sinch the deal. It was an offer from a dentist to provide dental work in exchange for making home improvements to his 90 year old Uptown home.
"He's doing a really great job as far as refurbishing the cabinets," says Dr Paul Ganucheau.
Both men were looking for a way to do away with markups and profit margins and just trade one skill for another.
While the home repair work is under way, Upton's first dental visit will come in a few days. Upton promises to call Curt when both jobs are finished and both men are smiling.