What's in a Haircut?
February 27, 2022
Tim Martin ’22
You may or may not have noticed that one of my interests in my bio is getting a haircut. This interest started when I was a kid and got my first fade. I still remember the moment I looked in the mirror and was mesmerized by the way the side of my hair was shorter than the top but everything looked neat and smooth. As the years passed, my love for getting a haircut only grew and I began to analyze every detail of the cuts I would get. My passion for haircuts continued when I got on Oberlin’s campus and it led me to connect with others in unexpected ways.
My freshman year, after two weeks of being on campus, a question quickly arose in my head: where do I get my haircut? As a member of the football team, I had been leaning on my older teammates for advice throughout training camp; now it was time to lean on them for advice on where to get a haircut. After conversations with a few teammates, the answer quickly developed that I should go to the barber next to the Domino's in town, so the next day I excitedly got some cash out of the ATM and walked in the direction of Domino's. The brisk wind hit me on a sunny day in Oberlin, the flowers bloomed overlooking the creek, it was truly a beautiful day. There is nothing like experiencing something for the first time and, as a freshman, I was enamored by the beauty of Oberlin’s campus; four years later this still holds true. After taking in the sights by the creek, I crossed the street and made it to the barbershop. It was a shop that only had one barber, and he greeted me happily and asked me to take a seat. After waiting my turn I made my way to the chair and asked for a low fade. The barber and I conversed as he cut my hair. We talked about life, as well as all of the best things to do in the area. He informed me that Kim’s was the place to go for food and that the Feve was amazing too. After about forty minutes he wrapped up the haircut and I started walking to my dorm. The town was buzzing as it was the start of the semester, and I was excited to see my friends. When I saw my teammates that had suggested the barber, I was greeted with supportive “Okaayyyyy’s” and we all smiled and laughed.
By the spring of my sophomore year, I was a regular at the barbershop. Every two weeks my friends and I would walk through Oberlin’s campus and enjoy the outdoors on our way to get our haircut. Everyone would hang out in the shop and talk to each other until each person had gotten cut, and then we would walk over to Kim’s and grab food together. It became one of my favorite parts of my college routine. Then one day I went in and my barber told me he would be moving to Canada. This saddened me as over the past year we had developed a friendship, but I was simultaneously excited for the new opportunities that were going to present themselves for him. Our barber's departure also left us with the obvious question of where do we get our haircut from now? Once again I leaned on my older teammates and quickly got an answer. I started going to a barber who worked down the street from the old barbershop. One of the coolest things about Oberlin is its constant interaction with the members of the town. Throughout my college experience, I have gotten the chance to meet many community members and even work on environmental projects with them. One beautiful thing that I experienced when I switched barbers is that it provided me with the opportunity to meet more members of the Oberlin community. After going in for a haircut one day I met my barber’s son who at the time attended the local high school; later that year the Oberlin College football team attended one of the high school’s football games and I saw the barber’s son put on an amazing performance as he scored multiple touchdowns. It was super cool to not only see a member of the Oberlin community succeed but also to have met who you are cheering and rooting for. The beauty of Oberlin is that in such a tight-knit community not only are we all rooting for each other’s success, but we also personally know the person that we are rooting for.
Another amazing thing about Oberlin is you will have a network that’s always ready to answer any questions you may have. When I was applying to finance companies and had interview prep questions, I had a network of people I could reach out to. When I had questions about concepts in my schoolwork, not only could I go to my classmates, but recently graduated alumni who I am friends with were also willing to help. The same applied when I was traveling from state to state and needed to ask someone where I should get a haircut. Oberlin is a diverse school that not only brings in people from all around the nation, but also all around the world. No matter where you go you will have someone that you can lean on and provide answers to any questions you may have, even if it’s just where to get your haircut!
When the pandemic occurred I went home and lived with my parents in Florida. Everything was closed including the barbershops, and my hair quickly grew to an untamed length. Ever since my freshman year of college, I had been watching YouTube videos that showed you how to do certain haircuts. As the pandemic raged on I began to watch the videos, look at myself in the mirror, and think, “I could do that.” So one day I picked up a pair of clippers and got to work. Three hours later I discovered that I couldn’t quite do that. My dad came home from work that day and looked at me very confused and then proceeded to attempt to fix what I had done to my hair. Nonetheless, I was happy, as everyone starts somewhere and this was my start. Over the next year, I continued to cut my own hair and slowly but surely learned how to do it correctly. By the time the summer semester of my junior year started, my skills had improved to the point where I felt comfortable cutting other people’s hair. I began asking my friends if they were cool with me cutting their hair and they agreed. The first cut wasn’t perfect, but over time my skills developed. The better I got at cutting hair, the more people wanted me to cut their hair. This allowed for my skills to develop even further. While I loved cutting and developed a passion for barbering, I quickly found that what I enjoyed most about cutting hair was the conversations that I had while giving the haircuts. Hearing about people’s day, talking about our classes, and sharing our overall Oberlin experience was always the highlight of the haircuts for me.
I never expected my passion for hair cutting to open up so many doors for me and develop my relationships with so many people. My love for haircuts allowed me to meet members of the Oberlin community outside of the college that I was able to develop close relationships with. Through cutting other people’s hair, I was able to learn more about my friends' interests and also give us an opportunity to communicate with each other outside of the classroom. Moving forward, I hope to continue developing my barber skills while simultaneously developing my relationships with the people around me!
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