On the way to the Lower East Side I stopped in front of a barber shop on Chamber Street. I needed a haircut and the shop looked cheap. The barber noticed me and rushed to persuade me in broken English to go inside. Unfortunately I accepted his offer. It turned out that it was a hairdresser school near Chinatown, run by a Russian immigrant lady and nobody spoke English! The students were all first-timers in New York, mostly from Russia, China and the Philippines – trying to make a living. The Russian lady kept lecturing them and everyone seemed very tense.
Once I’ve realized what I got myself into it was already too late – I paid my $15 for a hot shave and scissor hair cut (watch the video to see me in the chair). Before I paid though I haggled with the shop owner to give me a discount. She wasn’t well pleased but then gave me a price cut, so I got the shave for a dollar only as an add-on.
The Tribeca Barber School
This is from their website: “The School of Barbering and Cosmetology of Tribeca offers courses that prepare the student for the New York State Master Barber Operator exams. These courses teach the student about everything necessary to become successful in the field of barbering.”
In retrospect I could have done a better job at cutting my own hair. In fact, at one point in my life I was so penniless that I resorted to cutting my own hair – and it looked better!
Hot Shave Russian Style
He then proceeded to shave me. How absurd: I was getting an Irish hot shave in a Russian barber shop near Chinatown in New York! Anyhow, by then I had my doubts and told him I was putting my life in his hand. He was sweating and shaking and at first tried to shave me with an electric hair clipper! That didn’t work out very well and the Russian boss told him in no uncertain terms to get a proper blade out!
That’s when it was my turn to start shaking and sweating! I told him to put in a fresh blade and be careful – this was probably the first real near-death experience in my life!
He got on well at the beginning but then lost direction and a black guy that popped in for a minute helped him out. They then brought over a plastic head for him to practice on and about four other trainees joined us.
I must have looked quite petrified because the owner told me not to worry. The barber then came back to my head and resumed the “operation”. Unfortunately he cut my open on the chin so I asked him to stop. Luckily I was more or less fully shaved by then but there was some blood dripping down.
I gave the guy a dollar tip and we had a good laugh afterwards. I will probably never forget this experience or have another shave like this again – I wonder what the barber will do?
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