The Barber’s Lament

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BARBER: Being a barber used to be great. Back then, everyone wanted to be a barber. There were barbershops everywhere. It’s not that way anymore. It’s Ella Grasso’s fault. She ruined it for everybody.

ME: Huh? How did she ruin it?

BARBER: We used to have a state barber commission. Barbers had a six-year apprenticeship. Barbers had to be men, and we could cut either men’s or women’s hair. The ladies’ hairdressers, they had only a three-year apprenticeship, and they were only allowed to cut women’s hair. When Grasso came in, back in 1980, she cried that it was discrimination. She said that women should be allowed to cut both men’s and women’s hair.

These days when the inspector comes, he only checks the bathroom and the water and says “Sign here and pay $100.” The inspector from the state barber commission used to inspect the equipment and talk to the customers. He was a barber himself with his own shop, so he knew what he was doing. The governor appointed the state commission, so when there was a Democrat governor the inspector was a Democrat, and when a Republican got elected we had a Republican inspector.

Ella Grasso got rid of the state commission and left it all up to the city health departments. There used to be a barbershop on every corner. Now we have these “styling salons.” It just isn’t the way it used to be.