Who are you? The class clown? The jock, the drama girl, the tall guy, the dud with the funny laugh? He’s the cowboy, she’s the artist. It’s interesting how we identify ourselves and others.
Sometimes our profession becomes our identity. I am a doctor, a teacher, a plumber, a mechanic, or a zoo keeper. That’s a good one — Zoo Keeper.
For a part of her life my mom was “the lady barber.” In fact, I was with her just the other day and she referred to herself as a retired barber. I thought it was odd at the time, I mean; she does about a hundred other things really, really well. She is a singer, an artist, a collector, a genealogist, a Sunday school teacher, a mom and she is Grandma.
Back to the “lady barber” moniker – Dad’s shop had two barber chairs and he was particularly busy on Tuesday afternoons and all day Saturday. Mom got her barbers license and went to work on those days. If you called her a hair dresser you would be corrected immediately. She far prefers the title barber. Believe me, she would have no problem setting that record straight. Continue reading Barbershop Theology: Identify Theft→
I was sitting in a waiting chair as my dad whisked his barber clippers in short motions at the back of his customer’s neck. Another Saturday in the barbershop, a lazy afternoon of casual greetings, conversations about the weather . . . I was probably reading a Richie Rich comic book.
The scene is quite clear to me because it was the second such experience of the summer. As the barber shop shoe shine boy I was privy to this man’s world of adult conversations and a wide variety of news and opinions. This day the door opened, banged back and then opened for a gentleman who as pushing it with a crutch. I’m sure I stared.
He pulled himself into the barbershop and with clarity of speech and standing erect to muster some dignity he declared himself a beggar and would be most appreciative it anyone could help a fella who was ‘down on his luck.’ I stared because the man only had one leg and one arm. The lines etched into his face suggested that life had been hard for him. Very hard.
I’ll never forget my dad’s two questions. First, dad asked him how he had lost his arm and leg. Without hesitating the fellow said that he had been trying to jump a train and he had ‘miscalculated’ the jump. Bad luck seemed to be the theme of his life, or at least that was his perception and he even conveyed a resigned attitude about it.
My first job was a great gig. I learned a lot about responsibility, customer service, work ethic and satisfaction in a job well done. I was a shoeshine boy.
In 1965 my dad gave me a corner of his barbershop and spotted me the money to buy Kiwi Shoe Polish, saddle soap and a few brushes. The pool hall owner, George, gave me a couple of strips of pool table fabric. I used the green felt to finish each shoe shine with a brisk buff.
The cost for a shine was 2 bits (that’s a quarter). Often times I would get a ten cent tip. I could finish a long Saturday with a pocket full of change, black fingers and the swagger of a workin’ man. (Oh the stories I can tell you about my years in the barber shop. Lord willing, I shall do so in posts to come.)
Of course you are wondering, “Hmmm, and just how do I get a cool job like that?”