I tried a new barber shop, last week, for one reason – convenient parking. My downtown Birmingham barber shop doesn’t have convenient parking. This new barbershop is in a strip mall, which doesn’t give it that downtown-Mayberry, main street charm, but it was full of old, grey-haired men cutting hair and an equal number of grey-haired old men getting their hair cut. The owner spoke broken English and had a heavy Italian accent, and he was only the second owner since it opened in the ‘60s (I like to chat up my barber and learn things).
‘80s music played over the sound system, but one of the barbers, with an amazing handlebar mustache, was blaring Frank Sinatra out of his iPhone (it might’ve been an iPhone 5).
The barber shop’s phone was ringing off the hook – how many people really need to call a barber shop at Noon on a Friday? And it wasn’t just one main phone. Each of the eight barber stations had a phone on the wall and the lady doing nails (yes, this barber shop has a lady doing nails) also had a phone at her station.
I was lucky enough to have the barber who felt compelled to answer the phone every time while not one of the other barbers pretended to even notice the nine ringing phones. Each call was the same. “About a 15 minute wait.” “We’re open until 5:30.” “Giuseppe no work today.”
The final participant in my barbershop quartet, along with the nine ringing phones, the Sinatra by iPhone 5 speaker, and the overhead 80s tunes, was the gentlemen in the chair next to me who just had major unexpected oral surgery. I tried to focus on Sinatra singing about trampy ladies, cities he wants to be part of, and his way, and I even tried to forget if Giuseppe was working and be surprised it was his day off, but instead all I could hear was “blood” and “so much pain” and “impacted tooth” and “the cause of my lifelong bad breath” and really bad jokes.
My barber, at one point, asked the Sinatra-iPhone-guy, to turn down his tinny, annoying Sinatra and the handle-bar-mustache barber looked and said two words… “Chill. Pill.”
My barber, I learned, has worked there for twenty-three years and he and handle-bar both looked to be in their 60s, so I fully expect to read about a barber murdering a barber soon in my local paper.
Handle-bar-mustache barber begrudgingly turned off Sinatra. The dental surgery story was impossible to ignore.
“Turns out I had an extra tooth growing under my other teeth,” he said.
“That extra tooth was there since I was a kid. Can you believe that.” he asked his barber?
No. Nobody can believe this.
“Guess I gotta thank Obama because it was covered and that’s definitely a pre-existing condition, amiright?” He laughed alone and so then repeated it because he must’ve assumed his barber and everyone missed that Leno-worthy punchline about his extra tooth being a pre-existing condition.
My haircut took about 50-minutes all told, not helped by my barber answering a dozen or so phone calls. I give him credit. He gave a good haircut despite having his head shrugged against his shoulder pinching the phone in place so he could have conversations about the hours of operation, current wait time, and Guiseppe, “no work here, anymore …he be retired ‘bout four years.”
Four years!?!?!? Someone is calling to get back in to see Guiseppe after four years? That’s a long time between haircuts.
The haircut ended up being the best I’ve gotten in a long time. The parking was convenient and I liked that they accepted credit card. I’ll wonder, now, if I have an extra tooth.
But I won’t ever wonder again if I should try a new barber.
Speaking of trying “new things”, this is my experiment to see if an Instagram post will also post to my donkowalewski.com Blog. Thanks for reading.