Home » Location » Barbershop » The Term Paper (Part 1)

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Since both of our kids were in school now, I had decided to go back and finish up my business degree. One of my classes had required us to interview different professions in different industries and write a paper on it. I had decided to kill two birds with one stone and interview my hairdresser while I was getting my hair done. I brought my camera and a notebook and really enjoyed interviewing her and learning more about the industry. I went home and put together the paper along with pictures and turned it in to my professor. In all fairness my professor is a nice man, but he returned my paper with a failing grade saying that it was too one dimensional in its presentation. After class, I asked him what he meant and he explained that I had only interviewed one person from that industry. He questioned me as to why I did not interview some others in the industry like salon owners, nail techs or even barbers. He explained if this were a paper read by those exploring this field, they would be left with just one aspect of a very large industry. I was angry but I understood what he meant. And this was no ordinary paper, this counted for one third of my grade. He told me that I could redo it and he would correct my grade if I was more thorough next time.

So the following day, I set up some appointments with a salon owner, a nail tech (got my nails done in the process) and a color tech. After an exhausting day of interviews and pictures, I was ready to go home when I saw a barber shop across the street. I decided to take a chance. The sign said closed but there was an older gentleman inside; I tapped on the door and asked him if he had time for an interview. He politely declined and asked me to come back in the morning. I thanked him and he told me that his son would be opening shop in the morning at 7:00 am. I decided to show up at 7:00 tomorrow morning and then go to class right after that. Thankfully he was not busy the next morning when I got there. He welcomed me inside and offered me some coffee. The first thing I noticed about the shop was how clean it was. As he was getting some coffee, a woman walked in with her son and asked the barber (John) if he could trim her son?s hair up before he went to school. John asked me to take a seat and within minutes he was through cutting the boy?s hair. To my amazement the mother got in the chair next and within minutes was getting a flattop! She smiled at me while he was cutting her hair and bragged on John the barber. What a wonderful job he did on the whole family?s hair. She thanked him afterwards and ran her fingers through hers and her son?s hair.

I was speechless as she walked out and John had a sly grin on his face. She was a regular customer since her hairdresser had moved away. He explained that she had brought her son in one day and was desperate for a haircut. John had given her a trim and she had liked the way he had listened to what she wanted and the price had been about 20% of what she paid her hairdresser. She had walked in with hair below her shoulders and over the course of the last few years had gone shorter and shorter until the whole family came in one day for flattops. Since then she had tried to grow her hair out but would always go back to the flattop. ?Once you experience the clippers, it?s hard to grow your hair out!? he stated.

While he was speaking another woman walked in and told him she needed a buzz. John had her sit in the chair and apologized explaining it usually was not this busy. As the woman was getting in the chair, a man walked in and John greeted him. The man sat down and John invited me to sit in the barber chair next to him while he cut the woman?s hair. The barber chair was big and comfortable. I got out my notebook and camera while he was putting the tissue and cape around the woman?s neck. John assured me that he could answer questions while he worked and then asked the woman what number she wanted. I was not familiar with that question; it was usually ?what are we going to do today?? She replied with a one and he looked surprised. She assured him she wanted a one and he replied it would be much shorter than last time. This woman had hair just above her shoulders but within minutes John was shaving her head. I found out quickly what the number one was. It was the shortest guard you could use on clippers. Shocked and slightly bewildered by the sight I regained my composure and asked if she would mind if I took pictures for my report. She smiled and gave me the OK saying how glad she was to get rid of this mess. I started taking pictures of John in action and then taking pictures of the shop. When he was through with her she was buzzed to the scalp and it looked remarkably good on her. She thanked him and John told her not to wait so long in between trims next time. He dusted off the cape and the man sat down and I finished the interview while he cut the man?s hair. I took pictures of the man getting his hair cut and put everything away. I then asked if I could pose for a picture with the cape around me and the man took a picture of me in the same spot as he was just moments ago. John thought it would be funny to get some real shots and turned on the clippers and placed them at the top of my head like he did the woman. At first I jumped but then realized it was a joke. The man got some funny pictures of me.

I thanked John and went to class and then came home to finish up my paper. Looking through the digital shots, I got some very artsy pictures of the woman and the man and then I started laughing when I saw the pictures of me. The first shots were funny because I looked like I had just seen a ghost. The next few shots must have been right after I realized it was a joke because I was smiling while the clippers were right at the top of my head. I was downloading these pictures in the computer when my son walked in the door and saw them. He made a comment about how cool the woman looked with the buzz cut. She did look a lot younger afterwards. That night after dinner, I went to work on the paper and my husband came in to help me. He made the same comment about the woman and then shocked me when he told me I should have gone for it when the barber had the clippers to my head. A look of incredulity on my face made him explain. ?You spend way too much time and money on your hair and it hides your best asset, your face. Besides, it would probably make you look younger as it did that woman.?

After explaining to me that he thought it would look sexy on me and how much short hair turned him on, I began to think a little more seriously about it. My husband was right about time and money. The hours I had spent at the salon were torture and the money was an issue. But the thought of having a buzz cut or flattop was scary at best. What would others think? My husband went to bed and I finished up my paper. It turned out to be one of my best papers and it had sparked some interesting thoughts about short hair.

The professor gave me a new grade and stated it was a well done paper. After class I was driving home and decided to stop by and thank John the barber for being so hospitable. When I walked in he was cutting a college age girl?s hair into a very angled bob. It looked good and I just stood there for a second in a trance not knowing what to say. A lady was at the register paying John?s dad and she had no hair on her head! She was standing there with her husband who was rubbing her head and thanking her for doing this for him. She was smiling and rubbing it too. She looked at me and smiled. I was a bit embarrassed that I was staring but she alleviated my fears and told me how good it felt. ?See you tomorrow Ron!? she said as they walked out the door. This was all too weird. Twice I had been in here and both times there were women here and hardly any men. And both times all of the women were getting extremely short haircuts. It was as if I had stepped into another world!

I finally came to and thanked John for his hospitality. He had finished up with his client and was walking her to the door. When he was through, he asked me if he could look at the paper. I went out to my car and got it for him and he invited me into the back for a cup of coffee. He looked it over and asked me if I was ready??.

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