Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Tale of Two Barbers

A Tale of Two Barbers

Part of my job as Editor of Barbershop Digest is going around to different shops and getting haircuts from as many barbers as possible. It’s the sacrifice I make for you the reader. The sacrifice comes when I sit in a new chair and I have no idea what kind of skills a barber has. My follicles are at the mercy of unchartered clippers. My order is always the same: Take half off the top, shadow fade, don’t start the blend to high because I’ve got a real pointed head. That’s it.

A good barber, I think, can be judged by his blend.

If I get a bad haircut, I won’t tell you who the barber is or where the shop is. But when I get a good cut, I’ll always put the barber and the shop on blast.

So I’m in a shop, it’s a weekday evening. The shop is slow and I get in the chair quick. I get a cut and a conversation about the barbershop culture. The guy finishes and the next thing I know, he’s taking me to the sink to wash my hair! I’ve been getting cuts for 37 years and never, ever in my life has a barber washed my hair after a cut. I’m thinking: “I know my dandruff ain’t that damn bad.” Then I realize I made the mistake of telling the cat I write about barbershops and I suppose the post-fade wash is his attempt at special treatment. Well, that post-fade rinse is why I’m mentioning the shop or the barber.

Two weeks later, I’m on ML King. It’s early Saturday and the morning air is brisk. I see a cat walking down the street, I turn my head so he won’t ask me for money. Suddenly an old beat up Chevy sedan pulls up behind my old Chevy truck. I figure it’s somebody trying to get in the chair before me. The guy that was walking down the street, hops in the passenger seat of the beat up Chevy behind me. I figure they’re about to conduct some business. Perhaps they’re in the game, but damn it’s Saturday morning. Ain’t it early for transactions.

The shopkeeper finally arrives, rolls up the metal door protecting the plate glass window in the shop. The guys in the car behind me jumps out and enters the shop. Turns out, these two cats are barbers and they were both showing up for work early. Unassuming guys. Jean’s sagging, a few weeks removed from their last haircuts and the five-o’clock shadow was moving towards a 72-hour shadow.

When I visit a new shop, I always have a seat in the waiting area. I never ask a barber how many he’s got in front of me. I sit and wait to see how long it will be before someone asks if I need a haircut. It helps me determine how hungry the barbers are and what kind of culture and customer service exists in a shop.

On this day, I was the first customer in this shop, so it wasn’t log before they sat me in the chair and started on me. Made my request and the guy who was driving the beat up Chevy went to work on my fade.

People judge each other. It’s the fault of humans. I looked at that cat and thought he had a complex occupation. Instead, I learned, that he was a talented barber who can give helluva blend and he’s a singer, though I haven’t heard his stuff.
But this cat gave me one of the top 10 cuts I’ve ever had. And that’s why I’m proud to blast on this blog about Uppercuts on M.L. King where Rasheed aka Mention tightened me up.

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