A New Job by Princetonboy (recovered) by Gator
A New Job
I didn’t know what to think, this might be a really long shot. I was just out of barber school, and just enough hours in for a license, and was looking for a place to get established. I went with some friends to a small beach community up off on Long Island, just for some R and R. We got there on a Sunday, and were walking around looking at stuff, and we walked past this old barbershop. It was like something from the forties or fifties. Two chairs, a sink, even an old black and white striped cape folded on the side of the first chair, but not a set of clippers nor a comb in sight.
On Monday while everybody else went down to the beach, I walked back to the shop to see if anything was happening at the shop, but it was closed tight as a drum. Next door there was a little beach store that looked like it had been around a long time, too, so I went in and asked if they knew anything about the shop. "The last barber left about six months ago," the lady said. "You interested? The rent is reasonable, but you got to know that this is a seasonal community, only about 600 of us live here year-round." She gave me the name of the building’s owner, and his phone number. I called him, and two weeks later, well, here I was.
I cleaned the place top to bottom, painted the walls, and laid in a supply of towels and capes. I brought all my tools. All I had to collect money was a cigar box, and I filled it with ones and fives. Eight dollars for a regular cut, six for kids and seniors. We’d see how that went.
I didn’t have a single customer the first day. Or the second. But on Wednesday an interesting thing happened. A boy and his father came in, they were here for the summer, they said. The dad commuted to the City, was here on weekends. And the two of them decided to get identical haircuts for the summer. "You go first, Justin." So Justin, who looked to be maybe 9 years old, hopped into the chair. I put a tissue around his neck, and then (for good luck) put the old black and white pin stripe cape on him. Cranked the chair up a couple of notches so I could work on him, turned him around toward the mirror, combed out his hair. "So, what are we going to do?" The Dad got up and came over, that’s when he told me they wanted identical haircuts.
Justin had long, blondish hair cut in a bowl cut. The dad had longish brown hair. "What do you think, Jus?…now’s the time" "I want something short, really short" the boy said. "Like a buzz or a flat top?" I asked "Not that short," said the dad, "Well then, how about something like a buzz, it’s short on the sides and over the crown, but long enough in front that it brushes over?" "Yeah…" said Justin. "That sounds like what I want." I looked at the dad, who was rubbing the back of his hair, "Well, why not…let’s go for it."
I turned Justin around, and got my new Osters with a No 3 on it. "Ready?" I asked. Justin nodded. I put my left hand on his head, and pushed it down, "hold your head down like this" I could feel the pressure of his head against my hand. "I’ve never been in a barber shop before" Justin said. "This should be fun, then" I added. And with that I turned on the clippers, and started on the back, left side. Slowly I clipped up his head, once, then twice, three times, the back was about done, "OK, Justin, this is it," and I plunged the clippers in, up the side, and over the top of the crown of his head. His blondish brown hair was falling everywhere, large clumps of it on the cape. As I made this "point of no return" cut over his head, I heard Justin’s dad take a deep breath.
I didn’t cut the sides as close as I might have, and then used clippers over my big comb to cut the top, way down. With each pass more hair fell on the cape. I cleaned up with the edging clippers, and combed his hair into place. He really looked good – like a little boy! But dad had a strange look on his face. "O.K., Justin, you’re done. Next!" I smiled at the dad. He slowly got up and walked over. "Just like his, then?" I asked? "Yep, that’s the deal."
I put the tissue on the man’s neck, pulled the cape up. And again, put my hand on the top of his head, pushed it down. Justin’s eyes were wide as saucers. I turned on the clippers, and started, only rather than starting like I did with the boy, I just put them on the left side, and went all the way over his crown. His body went rigid. "My God" he said out loud. And he pulled his hand out from under the cape to feel. "I had no idea it would be that short." "Just like Justin’s" I said. "Well, O.K." he said, somewhat reluctantly. The brown hair from his head fell in great clumps, too. And, as with Justin, I didn’t really cut close to the skin around his ears. I pared town the top, first with the clippers, and then with scissors. He looked good. I cleaned up his neck, and then ran some hot lather out of the machine. "My goodness, it’s been years since anybody shaved my neck" he said. I took my razor and stropped it really good. I slowly shaved his neck and ears, wiped them down, put on some Bay Rum, and turned him to see the mirror. He was a new man. "That’s fantastic" he said.
The man got up, reached for his wallet, I could see a big wad of fifties and hundreds. He handed me a twenty, and I started to look for change, "Keep it" he said. And then, "thanks…we’ll see you in a couple of weeks." And they left. I swept up all the hair, put it in the dust can, and settled down to read the paper, but no sooner had I settled than the door opened. A woman was there, with two little boys, and Justin. " Did you cut Justin’s hair?" she asked "Yes, ma’am, I did" I answered. "Good. We’re in the right place. I want the exact same thing for Tim and Jack." "Whose first?" I asked? And one of the boys sat down. I caped him up, pushed his head down, turned on the Osters, and off we went. "Can you go a little shorter than that" the mother asked? "Sure." And, so it went, actually that’s the way it went for the rest of the day.
That was the beginning. By the weeks end I had probably cut fifty heads, and word was out about the new barber. Everybody wanted a haircut like Justin and his dad’s. Three weeks later, on a Saturday morning, in walked Justin and his dad, both in need of a haircut. Justin didn’t hesitate, he sat right down. I caped him up. "Same as before?" I asked? "No, said Justin, I want a flat top." I looked at dad, who had a big grin on his face. "Yep. Justin’s uncle Frank just came for a visit, he’s on leave from the army. He said to tell you, what was it, Justin?" "High and tight" Justin said. "You, too dad?" "Yep, me, too."
I wondered, would this be what everybody else got for the next few weeks? Just like Justin?