Sunday, October 04, 2009


BUS STORY # 153 (The Barber)


We’re headed home on the 50. We’re already past Avenida Cesar Chavez, so it’s its usual crowded self.

Up front, in the aisle-facing seats, a guy leans forward and asks the guy across from him, “Is your name Leroy?”

The guy says no.

“Are you a barber?”

“Yes. Yes I am. Did I cut your hair?”

“Sure did. It was a good haircut, but next time I came back, you were gone.”

The barber is a slight, wiry fellow, a youngish-early 40s, maybe. He’s wearing a long-sleeved, blue pinstripe shirt and what look like Toreador pants, black. Black-framed glasses, and a black cap with a short bill turned three-quarters backwards. The cap comes off looking like a jaunty beret.

The guy across the aisle is maybe late 50s, regular build. He’s got on cargo shorts and a faded purple T-shirt. His hair is short.

“Yeah,” says the barber, “I had to quit because they wanted me to work five days a week. They were great to work for, but I came down here to take care of my grandparents.”

He says he moved here from Kansas City, and he still does a few haircuts on the side.

“You gave me a good one,” says the other guy.

The barber doesn’t offer him an opening to one of those on-the-side haircuts. But he does say he might have found another place that will let him work three days a week for just three or four hours a shift.

“You might check it out next time you need a haircut,” he suggests.

As usual, just about everyone gets off at Central. I see the barber walking with a young couple. They pass by me on their way toward the UNM campus. He’s talking quite animatedly to them about art.

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