10 Lessons in Manhood Learned at the Barber Shop

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“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”- Mark Twain

I’ve had dozens of good teachers – none of whom can hold a candle to my barber, Roman.  For over a decade, his barbershop has been a quasi-classroom for me, one that delivers compelling street knowledge for a basement rate of $25 per chop.  If you pay attention, you’ll quickly understand that a haircut could stimulate more than just your mop, but your brain as well.

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Here are 10 Lessons in Manhood Learned at the Barber Shop : 

  1. There is a tool for every job:

In golf, it’s the club.  At the barbershop, it’s the clippers.  But in any circumstance, you can guarantee that their is a tool available to make life easier.  Did you know barbers used to act as the neighborhood paramedics?  Well we’ve come a long way from getting our hair cut and ACL fixed in the same place, so we can curb some of the barbarianism. If there’s a gadget that can make you more efficient or a gizmo that can make you more precise, use it.

There’s really no shame in outsourcing and asking for help. Romans reliance on scissors, buzzers, razors, and Marlboro Lights is subtle yet certain evidence of that.  Whatever your discipline, know the tools that are available to you, and don’t be too proud.

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2. If You Don’t Ask, the Answer is Always No:

Roman never took to the local papers or made an Instagram to promote his shop, yet everyone in town knew to go to him.  That’s because a job well done by a well done guy is remembered, and Roman never shied away from telling me to send my friends his way.  It was my pleasure.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  In most circumstances, it’s the least circuitous route to getting what you are looking for in life.  People beat around the bush and pitter patter the honest truth too much.  If you deserve it, reach for it.  In this instance, it’s called a referral.

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3. You Get What You Pay For:

You can tell a lot about a man by the amount he pays for his haircut.  $10 is no good; it shows that he’s not investing in himself enough.  $90 plus is a bit pretentious, no?  What do you pay?

Rome and I have our arrangement – quality for capital.  The decade and a half exchange in my ledger reads “pick and chose your fiscal battles.”  Money can’t be happiness, but sometimes, it purchases the intrinsic.  Double down on what you like.  Trim away from the frivolous.  Be prideful in your wallet, relish in your spends, skip brunch, and buy your girlfriend a necklace.

4. Speak Your Mind:

If your insurance doesn’t cover you on weekly shrink sessions, than the barber will be your sole practitioner.  Here, you speak.  Life’s most provocative conversations happen in the bedroom or at the barber shop, and a man always contributes to the conversation where he can, but knows when to be a wallflower.

Roman has a wife and 2 kids, drives a white 08′ Lexus, and vacations to Mykonos when he can.  He always asks how my mom Joanie is.  We earned our rapport with each other. We have the conversations that need having.  We talk in the summer and winter, Monday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  We speak when we just want to be left alone.  And speak even when we have nothing important to say.  But, getting it all out there is important.  I’m never remised after a haircuts catharsis.

5. Be Loyal:

It’s a first come first serve world, and there’s no line cutting at the barber shop.  A wait for chair #3 is virtuous, so we will be patient and unwaivering.

6. Curb Your Ego:

Again, there’s no line cutting at the barbershop.  Here, rank, income, status, size, and tenure are all left at the door.  The indiscriminateness is a reminder to never let your head get to big, and that we’re all equal in the beginning, middle, and end.

7. Be Assertive:

It’ll never get old.  A kid goes stone in the chair, unable to alert Ibraham or Aron they’re going too short on the sides.  A lolly pop and hair gel can’t pacify the regret and shame of a bad haircut.  So at some point, perhaps after your second scalping, you learn to be brazen and slap the trimmers of life when you feel threatened.

Roman’s 6’2″ 250lb with a Suffolk County bite – telling him off is nothing short of sticking your arm in a bear trap.  Still, the spine develops and you assert yourself then Rome hands you a ManCard. Surprise, your hair looks great.

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8. Tip Good Service:

Roman keeps it all in cash and is pretty lax on what you owe.  “Throw me whatever,” he’ll cough.  I’ll always come out of pocket for my dude because I helped finance that white 08′ Lexus. But, he got me a junior prom date after styling the fauxhawk of 2006 – the one that put me on the map back in the 9th grade.  A good hair cut is priceless.  For that reason I’m altruistic, and offer what I can where I can.  Find a cause, and crusade for it.  Offer yourself where you feel fit to influence.  Don’t get over zealous.

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9. Show Your Manners

Plot twist, no cursing at Romans.  While the barber shop is a testo-driven open forum, it’s not a locker room.  Establishments like these are meant for gentleman, not bro’s, and that’s thematic with with rest of the neighborhood as well.  “Act as if…”

10.  Surrender Control

But stay in the drivers seat.

When the scissors start, I’m in Roman’s hands.  It’d be unwise to fight that reality, so we learn when to relax.   Sometimes, it’s best to let life happen.

Thanks Roman.

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