Yet another haircut from Joe: always worth the wait

So today I got another haircut from Joe Feldman, at Harry’s Barber Shoppe in Squirrel Hill. Almost exactly a year ago, I fondly described my visit to Joe’s. Today, I still make the time to get my haircuts from him, after fifteen years now of having my hair cut only by him (other than one occasion when he was closed because of breaking his hand), on average of once every two months.

Today was probably my longest wait ever, over two hours! But it was worth it.

The wait

Late in the afternoon, I had called from work to verify that he was open, and he had said that nobody was in line, so I rushed to leave work early to take advantage of the opportunity for a shorter wait, but by the time I arrived, there were already six people ahead of me in line, one in the chair. Since I knew from experience that he takes about twenty minutes per person, I knew I was in for a two-hour wait, and I was right.

And guys kept on coming in who clearly were going to have to wait for up to three hours. Wow.

How I spent the time


I tend to get my haircut from Joe on Friday if possible, to end the work week relaxing. Since I have had a smartphone now for seven months, many occasions that used to involve my idly “waiting” are now opportunities to be productive. I caught up on reading and writing a lot of email (yes, it has actually become feasible to do this since I bought SwiftKey), as well as reading archived Web links that I had saved up.


Then I took a nap. It’s been a long week, and it’s going to be a long weekend!


After I was done napping, I kind of sat back and listened to the oldies music that Joe always has on. It’s an interesting game trying to identify who is singing, because all the music is “before my time” (as Joe pointed out even to another guy sitting near me who was older than me, who was also playing this game). That said, I can and did easily identify Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis, and various others from their voices and styles. I did not identify Englebert Humperdinck; I still don’t really know who he is, and have never actively listened to his music (unlike the vocalists I just mentioned).

Amusingly, there was one song in which I didn’t actually immediately identify the singer, but a guy gave a hint, and then I easily got the answer: Olivia Newton-John. For once, someone who is not as far removed from “my time”! I saw her as a kid when my friend Lisa in elementary school in second/third grades invited me to go with her to see the premiere of Grease (her mother took us to see it). It was way too grown-up a movie for me to get at the time, but the tunes were catchy (and for quite some time all my classmates were singing them at school). So I actually have some nostalgia for Olivia Newton-John’s singing.


I generally stay out of political discussions, especially during election times such as these. But two guys were expressing various opinions. I kept my mouth shut.

Place in line

One of the guys said he needed to go out for five minutes and would come back. There was a very brief and slight scene in which Joe warned him that if somebody came in the meantime, he would lose his place, because there are no reservations and that’s the rule. After the guy colorfully called Joe a “gangster”, Joe explained how being too lenient in the past had led to bad situations in which people came and went and wanted their place back, etc. I can totally imagine that. Rules are rules. Joe has his rules, and I respect them, and they work, however anachronistic and demanding they might be in this fast-paced, multitasking age.

In fact, I had actually lost my “original” place in line today, because I had showed up expecting no line, when I saw five in line. So I had gone back home (just a block away) to get a snack to bring to eat, and a book to maybe read, and when I got back, a guy walked in the door a split second before I did, so I became seventh in line rather than sixth.


I treasure my visits to Joe once every two months. I get not only a terrific haircut, but also enjoy the periodic trip down memory lane through the oldies radio station and the chance to enjoy the slowness of life that the space encourages and even enforces.

Bonus videos

In honor of Olivia Newton-John, here’s a 1978 live performance by her of “Hopelessly Devoted to You”. Laugh if you want, but I love this song, and I love her performance above all other singers’ covers, even to this day!

But here’s some random guy on YouTube who sings it really quite beautifully while playing the guitar:

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