Each week I talk to dozens of potential clients. They all have questions about my business and what photography services I offer. Those vary depending on whether they have a child or are expecting. But there is one question that almost every potential client asks me. And that is: “Are you Armenian? Why do you call your business ‘Panos’?
To answer one part of the question, no. I am not Armenian. I am Greek. And the reason ‘Panos’ is in the name of my business is because it is my Dad’s name. Actually, it is his nickname.
His full name is Panagiotis (PAH NAH YO TEEZ). In Greek, it is the equivalent to ‘Mario’. English does not have a male counterpart to Mary, but Greek does. So, since Panagiotis is long to say, people called my Dad Panos. There are other nicknames for Panagiotis, but Panos is what stuck with him. In his life here in America, he went by Peter at work.
The Ultimate Immigrant
My Dad is the ultimate classic immigrant to the United States. It was 1953 or so. He literally came here on on ship with less than 5 dollars to his name. He spoke no English. What he did have was some distant family in Los Angeles. So he came here and got a job in a Mom and Pop grocery store. Other than that, no one helped him much. There were no English classes, no support groups for immigrants, no social services. Nothing. And even though he had graduated high school in Greece, he had to enroll in high school here for one more year so he could get enough credits to apply to University. During this year, he studied and learned English well enough to write an application essay to University of Southern California. To me, that is amazing. I do not think I could go to a foreign country and learn the language well enough in less than a year to speak, let alone write a college essay. Amazingly, my Dad was accepted to USC in the School of Engineering. But not just any engineering; CHEMICAL engineering. The toughest engineering there is as far as I know.
He ended up with a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering 6 years later. And it is what he did next, that is the main reason I decided to call my business after him. He got a job with a pharmaceutical company and ended up redesigning a kidney dialysis membrane. In those days, if you needed dialysis, you had to go EVERY DAY. But with my Dad’s redesign, it meant that the membrane was so efficient, dialysis patients only had to go every other day. This gave such patients half of their life back. I always thought this was the greatest thing ever. My dad did not work to design chemical bombs for the DOD, instead he took a job that paid less and helped people. Can you imagine the effect on all those dialysis patients who now had more time to do other things with their days? It must have been such a relief for them.
So, because of my Dad’s grit, his choices, and the positive change he has made in the world, I named my business after him. I am nothing compared to what he is. Never will I be able to say that I affected thousands of lives with such intensity. But I like the idea that ‘Panos’ motivates me to do smaller positive acts in life.