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Kevin G Hare

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The View from the Barbershop Window

Many would view the local barber’s profession as dull and uneventful; standing in one little room for countless hours of the day. He performs the same task over and over, the only variety presenting itself as a different texture, volume or colour of the next customer.

One leaves the chair and another sits to embark on another round of conversation. Many times the talk is very meaningful, though, the chat reflecting a friendship and that is comforting to the barber. It signifies a level of trust that separates the connection from that of mere strangers. Yet others will sit in the chair and be content with silence. It is their own quiet time of personal reflection as they stare out the picture window until their time is up.

But the life of a barber is not dull. Every day is a new episode of life; a new show of mystery where a preview of the day’s program is not available. Action, drama, comedy or crime, all played out just for the barber’s entertainment; all played on the big picture window before him. Every show is a peek into the soul of the city. People are caught in their most candid moments when they think no one is watching. The barber sees it. He sees the car chases and the j-walkers. He sees the lovers out for a stroll and the ‘good’ mom who scolds her child fiercely. The old couple who still hold hands or the gentleman who still opens the door for his wife, offer the commercial treats between the melodrama of the seeded activity. He sees the drug lords walking nonchalantly to their ‘area’ to commit their sins and spread their poison. The fire-trucks, the police cars, the speeders and the miracles of a child on the road saved by a complete stranger do not go unnoticed by the barber.

All the improvised facets of life made up on the fly, displayed on the picture window and narrated by the visitors in the chair who pass on what they hear and know in casual conversation. He hears the stories too, and the blanks of the pictures are filled in by the dialogue of customers. They complete the holes of the inconspicuous people who seem shallow on the surface but have participated in affairs kept to the shadowy parts of humanity.

This is the life of the barber. Knowledgeable he is, in the underbelly of our town, the dark stories of our lives that hide in the unseen places except before him. Beware as you pass by stranger, which part of your personality you show for the viewing pleasure of the barbershop window!