‘Almost In Tears’: A Hairstylist Worries About Reopening Too Soon

The Boston salon the place Vincent Cox works has reopened, and the 65-year-old is again at work. “It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he says. Chris Arnold/NPR conceal caption

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Chris Arnold/NPR

The Boston salon the place Vincent Cox works has reopened, and the 65-year-old is again at work. “It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he says.

Chris Arnold/NPR

When you are a person of a sure age and you aren’t getting a haircut for a number of months, the thinning hair on high begins getting wispy and blowing round, the perimeters stick out all loopy. It shouldn’t be look.

And it appeared past the assistance of a YouTube haircut video. So when the stylist who cuts my hair, Vincent Cox, informed me that the salon he works at was opening up, I believed — “Well, I don’t know. What am I going to risk my health just for vanity?”

A number of days later, I’m sitting on the again patio of a salon in Boston with Cox’s scissors snapping round my head. We’re each sporting masks.

“I set up these stations outside, I brought the mirrors in from home,” he says. The salon proprietor has been receptive to his concepts for learn how to reopen the enterprise as safely as attainable. Cox says he works outdoors as a lot as attainable.

He has been slicing hair for 45 years, and he has needed to improvise earlier than. He has minimize rock stars’ hair on airplanes.

“Oh, yeah. I traveled with Aerosmith, The Cars, the Rolling Stones,” he says. “That was dangerous duty too, you know, in the ’70s!”

“A different kind of dangerous,” I say.

“A different kind of danger,” Cox says and laughs. “But it wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t like this.”

Cox says that he and all the opposite hairstylists he is aware of have been shocked to listen to that hair salons have been among the many first companies opening up in Massachusetts and another states. He says it simply would not appear to make a variety of sense.

“I mean, I would go work in an office,” he says. “The other guy’s 6 feet away at a desk. I’m not touching him and running my fingers through his hair.”

As Cox is telling me this, he unintentionally pokes my eyelid along with his finger. Obviously, it is inconceivable to social distance while you’re getting a haircut.

And as we discuss, it turns into clear that Cox is fairly scared. He’s 65 years outdated, and 80% of COVID-19 deaths have been in folks his age or older.

He says his dentist was warning him to not ever take off his N95 masks. His physician mentioned the identical factor. “They’re worried sick about me,” he says.

But when the salon opened up, Cox could not accumulate unemployment anymore, so he felt he had no selection however to come back again to work. He’s sterilizing his chair and scissors, washing shoppers’ hair himself, working 13-hour days, nervous about getting sick.

“It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he says. “I was almost in tears the first day — almost in tears.”

Cox says one night after work within the first week he was again, he was type of having just a little little bit of a breakdown. “And I talked to my friend, and he’s a retired Army general. He texted me and asked me how I was doing, and I went on a rant of about 10, 15 minutes. And it was really good because a general, when he gives you a kind of a word of advice, you kind of listen, you know?”

“And he says, ‘Vince, just remember your friends are behind you.’ And so that’s the best advice I’ve gotten.”

The salon proprietor says he is comfy with the steps to maintain staff and clients secure — spreading out the chairs inside, slicing hair on the patio, the masks, the gloves. But Cox and stylists at different salons are nervous. They say they really feel like canaries in a coal mine, like check topics to see whether or not elements of the economic system the place you possibly can’t social distance are opening up too quick.

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