Keep the Change

When we consider the technological advances of the last century or so we notice that nearly all enterprises are quick to jump on the tech merry-go-round in an attempt to get whatever edge they can on their competition.

What of the neighborhood barbershop? Except for the advent of electricity and the marketing success of Redken hair products, barbershops have remained unchanged from the days when you could get a shave and a haircut for two bits.

It wasn’t always like that though. Way back in 1163, a papal decree forbade monks from performing bloodletting as a therapy for health and well-being. So that procedure fell to the next most qualified set of professional technicians…local barbers.

Such a windfall for the industry! Along with bloodletting came dental work, autopsies, and embalming.

As fate would have it, by the early 1800s regulations and legislation stripped those surgical duties from the barbers and they were left to cut hair. It’s no wonder they have not hurried to adapt too much since then. The weight and worry of having it all stripped away again would be too much for all of the ‘Floyds’ of the world to bear.

But oh that great and wonderful gift of human nature. Some things even the most vigilant regulatory committees cannot take away. Just think of the stories barbers could tell. Long before the HIPAA laws went into effect prohibiting medical practitioners from sharing patient details, on any given day barbers would have accumulated many colorful stories to share with their next, ‘take a little off the top and sides’ customer.

The barbershop had always been THE place in town not only to hear the latest sports trivia and local news, but also a deep well of sage advice and philosophy.

That’s also where I remember hearing that old adage as true today as it was way back then:

“…there’s nothing more certain in this life than death and taxes.”

That must have made an impression on me — I think of it often as I do my bookkeeping…those two definite certainties, and that really there’s only one that I can do much about.

But then there’s that haunting jar of blue liquid with combs soaking in it at the barbershop. Maybe it makes a lot more sense now? I always wondered what that blue stuff was. Now I know why I was afraid to ask.

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