It was a lazy Saturday, grooming was on my to-do list, so I figured I’d jump in the car and make my way over to the barbershop. Luck must have been on my side too because I was able to score the perfect parking spot directly in front of the building. As I made my way across the storefront window, I took a quick glance inside, I wanted to get an idea of how long of a wait I was going to have. Not, that that was a bad thing, I could sit in there for hours listening to the old guys tell their stories, it was one of the best parts. At that time at least, nobody else was around, the barber chair was empty, another convenient win. With that, I quickly zipped up the three short steps and went inside, a small jingle signalled my arrival. Ahh, I can smell it now, the barbasol shaving cream, it’s always the first thing I notice. It instantly takes me back to when I was about 13 or 14. Every few weeks, on Wednesday nights, my grandfather and I would walk all the way across town just to get a haircut. A memory I like to revisit from time to time.
Where was I? Oh, I made my way in, closed the door, and sat on one of the only five chairs available, it’s a tiny little one-roomer. You’d have to go outdoors to change your mind, it’s that small. My barber was sitting in a corner, an older man, in his seventies, he looked to be halfway through his lunch when I dropped in. On the floor, were tuffs of hair scattered about, his broom had been laid against the wall…mid-sweep. I guess, when its lunch time, everything comes to an abrupt stop, a person’s got to eat. ‘Good day, sir. Be right with you.’ He said while finishing the last bite of his sandwich. ‘Yes sir, no problem, take your time, there’s no rush.’ I replied. Focused on his daily paper and still not looking my way, he mentions the fine weather. I replied with a generic response and allowed him a second to digest his food before I followed up with any more questions. As he made his way toward the little sink to wash up, we bantered back and forth some more with the usual pleasantries. I took notice of his slight limp as I sometimes do. I often wonder how the man keeps the passion going. Still on his feet, grinding it out day after day, on quite possibly a bum hip or knee, maybe both. Though, he goes on with the task at hand, not one complaint, only a simple smile to indicate he was now ready for my cut.
I found the simplicity of his daily routine to be quite refreshing, innocent, real. This simple trade I assume, as supported his family all his life and today was yet, another day at the office. I nestled back in the big red barber’s chair taking stock of my surroundings, a modern-day museum if you will, and every three weeks or so, I get a front row seat. His equipment and tools were dated, albeit, each in perfect working order. An old hairdryer hangs to the right of his station looks to pre-date me. But, again, it works fine. Like a picture frozen time, it was poetic is a sense. Something so modest can be so rich in character. It’s amazing how a tiny piece of the world like this, has stood the test of time for generations. Then, I thought, for how many more? I see an old photo of a man, his father, a barber also. It hangs just below a framed crisp one dollar bill, then, I noticed how no picture came after. So goes life, his craft will end one day and so will this very place I sit. Cliche I know, but it really is the small things.
In the past six months, I have been getting my haircut at the barbershop pictured above. There’s a couple of reasons why, the biggest reason is because it takes me back. Yeah, it’s conveniently located and comes at the low, low price of $10.50, that adds a lot value. But, there’s no quantifiable value in giving you a chance to step out of the traffic of life so to speak. Help you enjoy like I said, the small things in life.
His AM radio played hymns in the background as I handed him my $15.00 dollars. A huge ring from the antique cash register filled the barbershop with echoes. I walked to the door and thanked him for his services and also for the chat. ‘Thanks now, for coming and have a good day.’ The barber gave me one last good-bye, turned and ….reached for his broom.
Remember folks, the best experiences are sometimes the ones you don’t see “combing!”