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Observation Essay - The Barbershop

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Observation Essay - The Barbershop


Immediately I recognized that things were different, as I struggled to find a parking spot in the tiny lot hidden just off of the highway. The barbershop is located in an area too small to be considered a strip mall-and apparently too small to handle all of its customers' vehicles. It is the third in a row of three shops, although the first, a former ice cream/water ice business, was for rent. I knew that all of the drivers of the automobiles in the lot were in the barbershop, as the repair shop next to it does not open until 9 A.M. Apparently all Saturday mornings here begin with such a full parking lot. Once I found a parking spot, I was ready to begin my observation of the U.S. Male Men's Hair Care Center.

I walked into U.S. Male tentatively, looking for a corner seat. Air coming through the open door chilled the shop's interior, which was teeming with customers just fifteen minutes after the shop had opened. The stares from those already seated in the shop's green plastic chairs along the right wall, as well as from those getting haircuts in the four leather chairs to my left, pierced me as I wandered over to one of the vacant seats. There were only two available, so I was stuck between a chair seating Outdoor magazine and another holding a man in his forties who was reading The News Journal and sipping a rapidly cooling cup of coffee.

There were ten customers in all, and they all seemed ready for a wait as many came prepared with equipment similar to that brought by the gentleman on my left. I was surprised by the lack of conversation amid the fairly large crowd, although I attributed this to it being too early in the morning to engage in any sort of meaningful conversation. Two...


... middle of paper ...


...nted near the high left corner of the entrance to the shop. On the spinning blue band in white letters was written "Hairstylist," rather than what I thought was the more appropriate title, "Barber," since schools that train hairstylists are different from the schools that train barbers.

I also noticed signs on the outside of the building, as well as on the billboard near the highway, which emphasized "Fast-Service" and "Fast Walk-in Service." These signs also showed subtle indications of the maleness of this shop. The "L" in the word "Male" on the billboard facing the highway had the barber pole drawn into it to stress that "U.S. Male Men's Hair Care Center," as it is advertised in the phone book, was in fact a barbershop. I smirked when I noticed this, and I surmised that this was done to prove to men that this was not a salon. Salons are for women, of course.


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