My barber is an artist, and if I’m being honest, I love the guy. I don’t know him very well and we seem to be very different people, but the guy’s methods are without fault.
Let me tell you a story…
The first time I met Lyle I was on a lunch break from a workshop. I had forty minutes to buy food and eat, and thought I’d try to squeeze in a haircut too. I was greeted as one always is at a barbershop, seated, and the work began. I let it drop that I was kind of in a hurry, but at the forty minute mark Lyle was still eyeballing his work, trimming an errant hair here and there, fussing over length, trimming a flawless outline at the back of my head. I was going to be late, but I didn’t care. I’ve never had someone dote over my hair the way he was, and I tipped to reflect that.
A number of weeks later and I needed another cut. I booked in with Lyle and showed up, greeted with a smile.
“Hi Kevin! It’s been a while. I’m sorry, what’s your last name again?”
“No worries. It’s Dyck, D. Y. C. K.”
Lyle had a small notebook in his hand that he opened and began thumbing through.
“Ah, right. There you are. So last time we did a number two with the razor on the sides and back, and an inch and a half on top, faded into the sides. Same thing?”
Lyle, my barber, took notes on how I liked my hair. I had seen him for a single cut before, but he banked on seeing me again. The effort of writing down a name and a couple of numbers outweighing the risk that I might not return. I settled into the chair cradling a warm mug of coffee in my hands, and Lyle got to work. I tipped well, again.
The third time I saw Lyle he once again consulted his notebook. I told him I wanted to go a little shorter, so he jotted it down. Another 40 minutes later he was finally satisfied with his work and held up the mirror behind me so I could critique the cut. And again, it was flawless.
Let me tell you another story…
The other day I went to Canadian Tire, and the first order of business was to get into the bathroom (too much coffee!). The lock indicated the room was vacant, so I tried the handle.
Locked. I tried it again just to confirm, and stood dumbfounded and desperate looking at the door.
“Go ahead.” A voice from behind. Was it directed at me? I turned around to see an employee behind the counter staring at me, unblinking, not smiling. I laughed upon realizing that he had to release the door for me, and then smiled a thanks. He just stared, kind of like he was looking at an idiot. This encounter last a mere thirty seconds.
…And a return to Art
I’ve written about art before. Not the stuff on your walls, but how there’s art in everything we do if we’re fully engaged in it, if we’re trying to help. Above I’ve illustrated the opposite sides of the coin, but unlike a coin the forces aren’t black and white. There are likely things Canadian Tire Worker is passionate about, outside of work. Lyle, probably has things outside of work that hold his passion as well. The lucky thing about Lyle, whether he appreciates it every day or not, is that he’s found it in his job, too. He’s making art, even on an ugly guy like me!
Seth Godin (of course) had a post the other day about working from the edge of your seat. Those times when we take a half baked idea and just run with it. In his words, “If you fail while you’re trying to help, you’ll get another chance. And then another.”
My barber knows he’s helping me when I come to him. I know I’m helping my clients when I pour my heart into my work for them. Canadian Tire Worker helped me, but he didn’t see it as such. He was just doing his job.
So when you’re working, what side of the coin are you on?