Friday, June 25, 2010


Have you ever seen a plant, wilted by the sun, restore itself after a drink of water and a bit of shade. Have you seen it come back to life, lift up its arms and celebrate just being? Have you? I have. And I saw something similar yesterday.

I went for a haircut. I pulled in to place beside an elderly woman who sat collapsed in the barber chair next to me. Her walker was folded and leaned against the wall beside her. The stylist was a young man, clean shaven but with a blue hue on a strong jaw. His hands moved quickly and efficiently as he cut and brushed her hair.

The woman I go to is great with sissors but poor with English. She sometimes wants to practice with me, sometimes she seems tired of the struggle. Today she smiled but did not talk. That's ok with me. I like quiet too. In that quiet I notice the woman next to me. It was coming close to the end of the haircut. But the stylist stopped, looked finished but then said, 'I think there are a couple of hairs here,' pointing to the bangs hanging on her forehead, 'that need trimmed.' His finger brushed against her skin, once, maybe twice, as he indicated where the trim was necessary, then she nodded agreement.

He trimmed there and there, as he said, 'That looks better'. Then he asked about how the hair felt over her ears, while doing so he held his comb pointing out while his fingers traced the cut over the ears. She said that the hair felt good as it lay. He shook his head and said, 'Let me try this,' and clipped something almost invisible away. She grinned as she looked at the result and said, 'Oh yes, that does feel better.'

As he put the finishing touches on the experience, not the hair cut, she drank as if from water, she sat as if in shade. Little, tiny, acts of kindess, acts of attention, acts of humanity, made so much difference to her. He knew he could safely give her these gifts, she readily recieved them.

She left the salon walking easily with her walker. He said to the woman cutting my hair, 'She always walks better after a haircut.'

Mine nodded, smiling.


Belinda said...

H2O? It's just what my hair needs badly right now! :) I so get how that woman's spirits were lifted by being treated with attention, humanity and care. And what a difference a good haircut makes. I'm getting one tomorrow!

Kristin said...

Everyone needs that loving contact. I'm glad she got it.

Princeton Posse said...

My hairdresser has a plaque over her mirror that says "Miracles take place in heaven, not the stylist chair". But maybe a touch of heaven is in the stylist's chair?

Shan said...

Lovely post, Dave.

Anonymous said...

I do, too. Feel better after a hair cut, that is. Well, emotionally anyhow - physically, I always have a raging headache!

For me, part of it is that my stylist has known my family for years, has known me for more than half of my life, and so we talk about my family as she cuts my hair. And she's the only person who cares enough about how they're cutting my hair to give me a georgous cut every single time, mostly because she cares so much about how my hair turns out. I occasionally get cuts other places, because I now live across the country from her, but every time I visit my parents, I get a haircut.

Why not, when $25 will leave me looking and feeling refreshed and beautiful? (well, $30, 'cause I tip her well because I know I'm being way undercharged for my hair cut - it's the same price she charged me when I was 14!)


Anonymous said...

Even if she was happy with it afterwards, it seems kind of disturbing that she said no and he cut her hair anyway.