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Appreciating the simple joys of a quality haircut

One thing I have learned from the coronavirus pandemic is to never take anything for granted again.

Take, for instance, a haircut.

I enjoy visiting with Bill and Amy at State Barber Shop and catching up on all things important. Bill always is quick with a wisecrack about the newspaper, and I usually am just as quick to make a comment on the quality of the cut I expect to receive.

We get caught up on the fishing at Hubbard Lake, the hunting at Lost Lake Woods, or the family and how everyone is doing. At one time in my life, when an afro sat on my head, the physical need for a haircut was more important then than the time it takes today to cut what little hair still remains there.

That doesn’t mean a haircut is not important for me today. In fact, I would argue the mental aspect of the haircut — the socialization at the barber shop, visiting with Bill and Amy — is more important than ever before for me. I enjoy going to the barber shop and visiting with my friends.

While the pandemic has changed the way a visit to the barber shop takes place today, it hasn’t been able to steal away my joy.

And I believe that is as important for me as it is you.

Today, when I go to the barber shop, I need to sign in on a registration sheet with my address and phone number, then wait in my car to be called inside. Bill and Amy want to ensure they are doing things safely for their clients and themselves, as well as meeting state protocols.

Without a doubt, I yearn for the day when I can avoid that step and just walk inside and wait my turn. Even still, however, waiting in the car is a small price to pay for a quality haircut and good conversation with folks I really like.

I was reminded of that the other day when I was thinking that, in the beginning months of the pandemic, a haircut couldn’t even be had in the state. It was a simple thing that I had taken for granted, and one that I truly missed once it was gone.

The pandemic has done that to us. And, with COVID-19 cases skyrocketing again both locally and across the state, it brings back all the bad memories of this terrible time we’ve had to endure. The pandemic has changed the way all of us have to adapt today.

If you head anywhere over a couple of hours, good luck finding a bathroom on the road other than one operated by the state. If you need to stop for food, expect to be eating that meal in the car and not inside at a restaurant.

And, if the trip involves an overnight stop at a motel, plan on being the one to break the seal to the door so you know it has been sanitized. Do not expect any change of linen or towels, do not plan on using the pool, and, for breakfast in the morning, plan on having something dished out to you that you can eat back in the room.

I had hoped we were moving into a new phase of more freedom from the pandemic as spring arrived, but it appears just the opposite is true here in Michigan.

Some schools have temporarily moved again to remote learning, sports seasons for high school athletes are disrupted, a few restaurants again are being forced to resort to takeout only.

This week, it was announced Alpena Community College students will participate in a drive-by graduation to receive their diploma. I applaud ACC administrators for giving the graduating class a commencement service, but we all understand that service is nothing at all like what these students expected when they first registered.

It all makes me sad.

As I grow older, I have learned to appreciate more of the little things in life.

And, yes, certainly, this pandemic has driven home that concept.

Thus, I never will take Bill and Amy, or my top-notch visits to their barber shop, for granted ever again.

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