I’ve always been a barber shop guy. Always insisted on a crusty hole-in-the-wall, with sports-related shit plastered all over the place and a couple of TVs blaring something manly like auto racing or a random hunting show. With each new address we’ve claimed over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to find a spot that fits my criteria and a barber who is willing to work with the Brillo pad of curly, pomade-infused locks known as my hair. I’m not picky. If it’s even, I’m happy.
Then we landed in San Francisco. My first haircut was $50 and the place was teeming with hipsters. The latest indie rock sensation was blasting from a record player near their old-timey cash register when I went to pay. I tried to make small talk with the girl at the counter, but the music was too loud and I was way too plain to earn her attention for more than a forced hello and reminder that tips for the barber had to be cash. I decided I’d never go back.
Of course, I wound up going back twice and similar experiences followed.
Then, one fateful day, I utilized the power of Google to solve my problem. “Barber, North Beach” was my extremely complex, strategic search terminology. A small place just over the hill from the office appeared. The Yelp reviews were outstanding. Even more shocking than location and satisfied customers, the price listed for a haircut was $12. I was certain this was a mistake, but I had to see for myself.
That’s when I met my new favorite barber—a Chinese woman in a tiny nail salon.
There’s no sports-related shit on the walls. The TV is always on, but it’s usually the local news. The barber, who has still never given me her name, doesn’t seem to speak much English. After many years of looking forward to barber-shop chats, the new lady and I generally don’t say a word beyond the basics.
Yesterday I went in with a $20 bill and a smile. Everyone in the salon paused for a moment and said hello in a song-like tone through heavy Chinese accents. The TV was muted and a small radio was on instead. Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are“—a song I absolutely despise—was quietly playing as a small woman in the back began to sing along.
She followed the chorus word for word “You’re amazing…just the way you are…”
I sat there and considered all the random, unpredictable factors that led to that moment in time and told myself that everything is going to be just fine. Better yet, I mostly believed it.
Happy Friday, internet browsers. It’s been one hell of a fucked up week, but please join me in never loosing site of the fact that we’re incredibly fortunate to be here and most of us are pretty damn amazing…just the way we are. Hell, throw a fresh haircut in the mix and “amazing” might feel like an understatement.