Take A Break
Once I was sitting in this barbershop, waiting to get my haircut. I usually don’t go to the barber; I usually just cut my own hair. I keep it as short as possible, sometimes even lathering it up every morning in the shower and shaving it with a razor. Sometimes, through sheer laziness, I’ll let it grow out a half-inch or so before I break out the shaver and cut it myself. I don’t have a particularly scientific way of cutting my hair; I basically use the same strategy as when I shave my face.
I just feel around and if it feels even, then it’s ok. Of course, several times I’ll catch myself in mirror and realize that I missed a spot. If it’s on my face, it’s no biggie; I just remember to be more careful the next day on that particular spot. If it’s on my head, however, then I feel a bit self-conscious and shave that area the first chance I get.
Sometimes, however, it just feels good to have somebody else cut my hair for once. Especially if they are old school, and break out the straight razor and the hot foam. It’s hard to find a barbershop these days that will do that among all the fashion places that are out there.
I remember once when I used to live in Taiwan, and I went to get my head shaved. It was the first time I’d ever had my head completely shaved, and I decided to go to a barber, instead of trying myself. I didn’t speak any Taiwanese, so I had to use gestures to get my point across, which I easier than you’d expect. Just by playing a game of charades you can understand how much you can get your point across using gestures and body language.
There’s even been a few case studies of the spontaneous development of completely new languages in a relatively short amount of time through only gestures. There was a time in a South American country where deaf children were thought to be somehow mentally deficient or something. So not much attention was given to them, or how to help them learn to communicate.
Then some missionaries came in, and set up a school for all the deaf kids. Within a few months, all the kids had developed a completely new language, based, obviously, only on hand signs. This was a full complete language, not just bunch of symbols that were used in place of sentences. These kids were speaking a language that contained all the grammatical requirements for an accepted language.
This case was used as evidence among transformational grammarians who believe that language is an innate instinct in humans, and not merely a learned trait. Our brains are pre-wired with certain grammatical rules. If you study any of the known languages of the world, they will all obey specific grammatical rules. Noam Chomsky even suggested that all the world’s languages are merely different dialects of the human language.
Most people that have traveled to a foreign country where their native language is not spoken quickly find out how far you can get on gestures, facial expressions, and body language.
So when I asked the barber to shave my head, I was expecting her to use a regular razor that you shave. The double-edged kind that is safely inside plastic case in order to minimize the danger of cutting. But what she did was lather up my head, and then to my shock she pulled out this huge straight razor, like something out of a Sweeny Todd movie. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. But after I survived without bleeding to death, I went back to hat shop several times during my stay in Taiwan to get my head shaved.
So every once in a while I like to hit up a regular barber, to relax and let somebody else do the work.
As I was sitting there, I wondered the barber has been such a frequent hang out of so many people. I’m usually the kind of guy that focuses on results, rather than process, but sometimes the process is the result. Just by sitting and waiting, and chewing the fat with all the folks sitting around, it somehow offers some kind of break from everyday life. Which is why I like this particular barber. Even though shaving my head with a number one or a number two razor really shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes, the guy that does it really takes his time. It’s nice to be the focus of such a concentrated effort.