• Morgan Fagg

Lockdown Voices Number 52 MANUEL

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

HAIR & NOW Don’t Run With Scissors

(As heard on Athlone Community Radio 88.4FM and discussed on Midlands Radio 3)

When I was young, my mother cut my hair and when I was a teenager, I didn’t cut my hair as much as I should have but when I got my hair cut on May 26, I had no idea how different the experience would be from every haircut I have ever had in my life.

Like a scene from a dystopian tale, we have watched the world change dramatically and my last hair cut on Black Friday was very different.

In only 26 weeks since November 24, the experience looked more like a scene from the film 28 Weeks Later as the barber and I both wore masks and feared for our lives that a virus could infect and kill us.

Manuel Casal’s barbershop on Calle de Echegaray in El Barrio de Las Letras offered a discount for Black Friday but by May, I was paying almost twice as much. Not that Manuel had changed the price but because I felt a generous tip was justified, considering the lengths the Peluqueria had gone to protect his customers.

When hairdressers started to re-open in Madrid, I passed by a barbershop and saw three employees waiting around and decided to wait before getting my hair cut. Getting my haircut was not essential to me and my hair looked better in Zoom calls and on Skype than it ever did when I was in school or college but when I saw that my barber had re-opened and that the shop was empty, I decided to step inside.

Before I could, Señor Casal asked me to wipe my feet and disinfect my hands, which I did.

He put on gloves and a Face Shield over the two Face Masks he was already wearing.

When I took my seat, Manuel asked me for my name and number which I presumed was for contact tracing and he would not let me remove my mask.

Instead he used a comb to pull the mask’s elastic band away from my ears as he gave me a number 3 haircut at the back and sides.

We each have a difficult task, opening up the economy, stopping the spread of Coronavirus, and keeping businesses and each other alive.

By comparison to the precautions that Manuel Casal took, I walked passed by my local kebab shop when I saw the cook speaking outside with a friend of his, with neither of them wearing masks.

Wearing a mask in a hot kitchen must be horrible but there is an old saying about staying out of the kitchen if you can’t take the heat so I passed by the take-away and went to one where they were wearing masks and will avoid my usual kebab shop until Covid-19 is no longer on the menu.

I can’t imagine the risk and difficulties that small businesses are having to take to try and re-open safely but I appreciate every step that Manuel Casal took in protecting his customers.

It might sound cliché but as Spain slowly re-opens, be careful not to run with scissors.

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