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Friday, September 13, 2019

Barbershop Conversation


I drove to Greg’s Barber Shop in Greenville, SC, today, Thursday Sept. 12, 2019, and arrived shortly after 11 a.m. Greg’s shop is part of a strip mall across from the old Winn-Dixie Warehouse and sits near Publix on Wade Hampton Blvd. Greg Barnes has been cutting hair since he was a teenager. He’s a Travelers Rest High School graduate, spent four years in the Navy, and is in his mid-sixties.

Greg and Brian, a younger barber, were waiting for customers: Greg sitting in his barber chair; Brian standing, fiddling with tools of his trade. Brian is off work on Wednesdays, and Greg told me Wednesday is a busy day for him, so I try to hit the shop on Thurs. rather than Wed.

I walked toward Greg, and he put away his newspaper and stood behind his black, leather barber chair.

“How you doing?” Greg said.

“Pretty well,” I said.

“Well, I wouldn’t say ‘pretty.’”

“Okay. I’m doing fairly well. But I guess I’m not ‘fair’ either.”

We laughed.

“Take off a few weeks worth of hair,” I said.

Greg clipped and scissored my hair and turned me toward a mirror behind him.

“Is that enough off the top?”

“Yeah, looks good.”

“Now that you’ve got the most important thing done, what you gonna do the rest of the day?” Greg said.

“I was just sitting here thinking about that.”

“Does that mean you need something to do or you have a lot to do?”

“Oh, I have a lot to do. I was trying to figure out what to do first.”

“Well, my wife tells me what to do.”

“My wife passed on,” I said, “For me, figuring out what is important to get done is a lot harder than you can imagine.”

Greg flipped away the apron covering my chest, and I paid and tipped him.

“See you guys later,” I said.

The unseasonably warm September heat hit me.

I drove home.

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