All in all, my 50 years of barbering has been a pleasure. But then there was the long hair era of the mid 60s to the end of the 70s. It wasn’t 15 years of total misery for those barbers who adapted to the longer cuts of the time. I enjoyed giving the longer haircuts and could do a good job on them. But it wasn’t very pleasant dealing with the “generation war” going on at that time.
The battle of the generations got crazy, for me miserable, when a certain kind of Dad brought their youngster in for a haircut. He wanted a short haircut like he was used to having. From Dad I got: “Make him look like a man!” The kid was begging me to leave it long–just a comb-out would have been nice. Of course Dad was paying, so that carried a good bit of weight. But the kid’s whole sense of worth depended on letting those locks grow, the longer the better. This wasn’t just a matter of whims, this was very big stuff for both sides of the issue. Dad grew up in an era of once a month short haircuts–to leave hair covering any bit of the ear (even touching it) went against all his notions of respectability. The kid wasn’t burdened with such notions–he just wanted to fit in and not be considered a doofus by his peers.
So there is me, the poor barber stuck on the front line between two warring sides. I’m in the business of giving people what they want, and I enjoy doing that. So, do I give the kid what he wants or do it the way Dad demands? If Dad got out of hearing range I would offer a little deception: “I can leave it long enough to cover the upper part of the ear and then comb it back on the side so the hair tucks in behind the ear–shall we try it?” Of course I was risking the loss of two customers if the boy wouldn’t keep that long hair tucked out of sight in Dad’s presence, but doing it Dad’s way left many a child with tears coming down their face.
It was the worst pickle I’ve ever been in. May those days never return!
MORE UNIVERSAL RULE
Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.
Analects, 15, 23
Brahmanism: This is the sum of all true righteousness: Deal with others as thou wouldst thyself be dealt by. Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou wouldst not have him do to thee hereafter.
Love they neighbor as thyself.
The Great Commandment