If you live in New York, you know that you can’t throw a brick without hitting a licensed psychotherapist ready to help you get a grip on your life and get over your demons. But psychotherapy is expensive and it takes a long time. That’s where 11-year-old Ciro Ortiz comes in.
Ortiz isn’t a licensed psychologist, he’s not even in the seventh grade. But that doesn’t mean he’s not wise beyond his years. And a few weeks ago, the budding entrepreneur decided to start sharing his wisdom with the huddled masses on the subway. Not by wandering through the cars demanding payment for advice, but by setting up his own office on the Bedford Avenue stop.
Sitting at a card table, he charges people looking for some emotional guidance two bucks a pop for five minutes of his time. Even if you tried to go for a fifty-minute hour (although Ortiz probably wouldn’t stand for it) it would still be 20 bucks to most therapists’ $150.
Why’s an 11-year-old shilling out advice on the weekends instead of playing video games or chilling with his friends? Ortiz told The New York Post that offering his wisdom to those who need it is a “good way to give back and make money.”
It’s also a great way to make friends. Considering that Ortiz earns up to $50 on a good day — and he only works from 12-2 — that means he could see more than 20 people per shift (although we’re willing to bet a lot of his customers give him tips).
Here’s an example of some of Ortiz’s advice:
One recent afternoon, a couple stopped by Ciro’s “Peanuts”-esque card table for some marital counseling. The husband was unhappy that his wife had recently gone vegan.
“I told him that she didn’t get mad at him for eating meat,” Ciro said. “She likes to eat what she wants and he likes to eat whatever he wants so they’re just gonna have to deal with it.”
That’s a smart kid! According to The Post, which spoke to Ortiz’s parents, the 11-year-old was shy his first day but is now brimming with confidence. And for a kid who’s had a history of being bullied at school — he says he hates it, even though he’s an honor student — confidence is an important thing to have.
Ortiz isn’t planning on a career in psychotherapy (he told The Post he wants to be a game developer) but his customers say he’s often right on the money, giving voice to feelings they’ve been carrying without being able to communicate them. And while Ortiz has seen everything in the few weeks he’s been practicing, he told The Post that the biggest problem adults seem to have is coping with change.
Unfortunately, Ortiz says, we all have to accept that change is inevitable.
While other kids his age may use the money they make to buy things for themselves, Ortiz’s father says he’s got a more altruistic bent. He spends a good portion of his earnings buying snacks for classmates who can’t afford them. This is one kid who’s not getting coal in his stocking this Christmas.