Getting a head start on the barber

Mike Jiggens

Share Adjust Comment Print

While the longest March break in history plods along, some things are starting to look a little more like they once did. We’re far from being out of the woods, but certain restrictions are being lifted to offer hope that a sense of normalcy is on the horizon.

It was nice to read late last week that five consecutive days had elapsed without any new COVID-19 cases in Norfolk and Haldimand counties. It means we’re doing our part locally to stop the spread. As good as this news is, along with statistics that suggests Ontario and Canada are flattening the curve, don’t expect movie theatres, sports venues and restaurants to open anytime soon. Don’t expect grocery stores to abandon their outdoor admission queues anytime soon. Don’t expect schools to reopen anytime soon.

Where physical distancing can be safely practised will determine what will be allowed to open first. If that works successfully, other openings will eventually follow. In the meantime, we’ll have to carry on in more or less the same fashion as we’ve been doing the past couple of months.

Interestingly, the more the curve flattens, the more protective masks people seem to be wearing. Just about every other person I’ve seen in the outdoor queue at grocery stores is wearing a mask. I haven’t been inside too many businesses since the lockdown began in March, but in the few I have visited, just about every single employee is wearing a mask. It’s a harsh reminder that we’re still in the midst of a serious health crisis, but it’s also a proactive measure aimed at speeding toward the finish line.

As I speculated a few weeks ago, masks are now mandatory for customers to wear at some grocery chains in Ontario. We’ll see if any of our local stores follows suit.

I tend to keep my hands in my pockets much more these days to avoid touching my face while away from home, but I had a close call the other day after buying a birthday card to send to a friend. After writing in the card and addressing the envelope, I instinctively raised the flap toward my tongue to seal it. Suddenly I clued into the realization that others may have handled this same card and envelope, and maybe I should find a safer way to seal it. “Holy Susan Ross,” I thought. “That was close.”

In British Columbia and Alberta, hair salons and barbershops will be able to reopen by the middle of this month. Ontario will undoubtedly be monitoring how that goes. I’d like to think hairdressers and barbers will be told to mask themselves since physical distancing is pretty much impossible in that line of work, but it’ll be tough for the customer to follow suit as masks tend to be fastened either behind the ears or the back of the head – and hair professionals need to access those areas. There will probably be no waiting area inside shops and, like at grocery stores, customers will have to wait their turn in a line outside, even if they have an appointment.

One of these days, some clever individual will invent an automatic hair-cutting and styling machine. You stick your head inside a contraption that can be programmed to give the person the type of cut or style desired. Scanners inside measure the diameter of a person’s head as well as its contours. The user pushes a button, and an array of clippers and razors go to work. Maybe it’s my imagination running wild during this lockdown, but then again maybe it’s not as far-fetched an idea as it sounds. Who would have thought 20 years ago that cars could operate without a driver behind the wheel?

Until the automatic haircutter is born, I’ll entrust my barber to continue to cut my hair. He’s skilled at what he does and I enjoy his banter. He’s probably going to have a conniption, though, when he sees how much hair he’s going to have to cut from my head. I might have to give him a head start with a self-attempted pre-cut and then let him fix the damage afterwards.