Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do you know your barber?

Kind of a silly question right? Of course you know your barber, you see him every few weeks, trust him to cut your hair and socialize with him for the 15-20 minutes your there.
(Of course in my case it’s every 4-6 weeks and it takes less than 10 minutes since I have very little hair)

I know my barber. His name was Tony, he’s retired from another industry, he has kids that live somewhere out of state, he and his wife live somewhere near the shop and someday he’s going to retire to be nearer to his kids.

Evidently, I don’t know him as well as I thought. I went by a couple of weeks ago for my haircut and there was a sign that says closed until further notice.
Ok, so maybe he’s on vacation or came down with the flu…..
I went by this past weekend and now there’s a For Lease sign in the window…..
Now I’m curious and kind of concerned. Did he suddenly and without warning decide to retire? Is there an illness? Did he move away?

This shop has been in this same strip mall for at least 10 years, probably more like 20, and Tony has been the barber there since forever. Someone must know what’s going on….
I went in to the beauty salon next door and they have no idea and don’t seem to care. I went in to the cigarette/water store on the other side and he didn’t know and didn’t seem to care either.

I was totally annoyed and disgusted that his “neighbors” had absolutely no clue about where he went or what had happened and, apparently no concern either. And then I started to think about our neighbors….

What really struck me about this, in addition to the inconvenience of having to find a new barber, was that this is really a glimpse into what has happened with our sense of community or neighborhood.
When I was growing up, my parents knew all of their immediate neighbors and some or most of those up and down the block.
Now...I know and talk to 2 of my current neighbors, I regularly wave at but don’t interact with maybe 6 or 7, I recognize the cars of maybe a dozen or so, but that’s about it. Of the 100 or so homes in our tract, I can recognize maybe a total of 12-15 people

I wonder if something catastrophic happened in our household and we ended up moving quickly, how many of our neighbors would even notice?

Why don’t we have the same level of community that we had growing up? Are people so busy they don’t have time to interact with their neighbors? Are we so afraid that we lock ourselves in our houses? Are we so enthralled with that big electronic box in the family room that we sit in front of it mindlessly waiting for it to make us feel connected?

Last night my wife and I took a walk in our neighborhood and actually spoke to several of the people that we saw outside. We need to do this more……connecting is good…..

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