Sunday, August 28, 2016


I needed a haircut yesterday.  There is a woman who has been doing my hair now for about fifteen years. She works at a chain franchise and has been at the same spot in, nearly always, the same chair since Bush the younger's administration, maybe even Clinton's.

She is a very popular hair cutter.  I wonder if it is difficult for her co workers because often I go in there and the others are twiddling their thumbs while three or four hirsute customers are waiting for May.  Yesterday was such a day.  I got there at 1230 and my hair did not start cascading down the shmata they put over me until nearly 130.

Towards the end of my wait time a couple came into the shop with their adolescent son.  I'd put the kid at around 17, but he could have been a year or two older or younger.  It did not seem as if the dad or mom could speak. They signed when they interacted.  The boy was not paying attention and was difficult to control.  At one point the kid got up out of a chair and started walking around the shop.  This couple and their son must have come in at other times because the workers did not appear to be alarmed at how the young man meandered through the store as if he was the difficult child of the owner whose parent had given up disciplining him.

Soon it became apparent that the boy was not simply mischievous.  My unprofessional diagnosis was that he was a young Rain Man, an autistic youngster.  He did not speak but neither did his parents, so it took a few moments to realize that the kid was not responding normally.

These people were not waiting for May.  I was in her chair being shorn when the parents attempted to corral their youngster so that he could sit in someone else's chair.  They could not do it. They started yanking the boy out of one chair to get him into another.   The kid was very close by and I thought the situation could be dangerous if in the course of the tugging the kid bolted into May while she was using her scissors.

That did not happen, but I noticed when they finally got the boy into a chair that he would not sit still for the haircut. The woman doing the cutting was remarkably patient waiting for the kid to stop for a few seconds so she could snip.  When I went to the register to pay, I saw that the father now was sitting in the chair with his arms around the boy like a straitjacket holding him down on his lap so the barber could do her work.  It was like cutting a moving target.

At one point the we heard a loud smash as the kid had knocked away a mirror being held by someone--I think the mother.  I don't know how the haircut ended for him.  He was still being held down in the chair when I exited.

It had been a troubling week for me. Nothing insurmountable, just some foul matters taking up space in my head.  It should put things in perspective to imagine the hour by hour challenges of the parents of the young boy as well as the--to us-- incomprehensible world of the boy himself.  He and they would trade their lot with many of us. I imagine there is love in their family like there is in many families, but the turbulence of every day must create obstacles that block their journey in ways we cannot imagine.

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