Monday, November 19, 2012

Rick the Barber a cut above the rest

One can never predict the paths Life will take us down. One election, while canvassing a house on a nearby street, I met the proprietor of a neighbourhood barber shop. He agreed to put my Green Party sign on his lawn, and I promised I’d drop by the next time I needed a trim.
Well, I kept my promise, and since then every hair cut has been from Rick the Barber. (You may remember him from the Time to Care event). It’s been perfect for me, because the 15-minute walk to his shop is a great constitutional. But even better, he does a better cut, in less time, than the cut-rate mall salons I used to frequent. For some reason the ladies there would never cut my hair short enough; it took half an hour and repeated requests to get them to trim it how I wanted. Rick gets it right the first time, saving me about 20 minutes. Yet his price is the same as theirs; he doesn’t charge a premium for better service.
The nice thing about Rick’s quick work is that even if I’m not the first in line, it’s never a long wait – at most, I have 10 minutes to catch up on the latest in the world of sports, cars, or hunting & fishing, the contents of his magazine rack. Although none of those are my usual topics, at least it beats fashion magazines or catalogues of unlikely hairstyles!
Getting back to my theme: Rick’s life also took an unpredictable path. Born at RVH and raised in Barrie, he started in the construction trade, with two decades of bricklaying and masonry. But helping his wife at her salon while laid off one winter, he was caught by a labour inspector and cited for not having the proper license. He agreed to join an apprenticeship program, and in 1991 completed barber courses at George Brown college and proudly posted his license to cut (although the inspector has never returned).
Since then, he’s sometimes worked in his wife’s salon, sometimes on his own. Today, she works from home and he runs a small barber shop at Dunlop & Anne. He’s there full time, Tuesday through Saturday; if you need a haircut that’s quick, smart, and affordable, it’s the place to go.
Something special in the works is the antique iron, wood, and leather original Koken barber chair Rick is restoring in his spare time. At about 125 years old, it’s a real piece of history. And once it’s in working order, you can settle into that chair for a trim and be a part of that history – at no extra charge! I’m looking forward to it.
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

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