Barber Shop Antics
21 May 2007
If you were one of the low-paid employees of a Chinese barber shop, would you go along with having to learn a dance routine and do it in public right in front of the shop? That’s apparently what I witnessed from my taxi yesterday:
Speaking of barber shops, Ben Ross has been working in a Chinese barber shop. No, it’s not some kind of weird role created just for a foreigner; he’s doing exactly the same work that any young Chinese guy would. The project has taken over his life and his blog. The posts thus far are:
– My new job…in a Barbershop!
– First day at the Barbershop
– Day 2: Exhausted
– I may work in a barbershop, but I’m not a barber.
– Johnny Be Good
– The Huan Ying Guang Lin Meeting
– The Year of the (Guinea) Pig
– Snakes in a Barbershop
– I get highlighted!
– Where are all the women?
– Miscellaneous Updates
– Employee BBQ!!!
– White people with big shelves
– Facts and Figures: Hours per year
– Corruption in the Barber Shop
I know it’s a little abnormal to post so many links to one blog all in one post, but I think what Ben is doing is worthy of all the attention it gets. To me, this kind of thing is the epitome of interesting blogging on China.
I actually thought of doing the same thing before, but I never had the time to go through with it. A friend of mine (let’s call him “J-L”) actually did the same thing once. J-L had a hard time convincing a Chinese restaurant to hire him (the manager couldn’t understand why he would want to do such a lowly job), but he finally got a position in the kitchen cutting vegetables all day… until they fired him for being too slow. So Ben’s blog series is the first time I’ve seen it done and documented so well. I have a lot of respect for Ben for sticking to it for so long (and not getting fired).
When I thought about doing something similar, I initially considered somewhere like KFC or McDonalds (OK, I’m a sucker for irony), but I guess it would be hard to work at one of those places without getting special treatment or promoted to a special position. A barber shop is somewhere I’d definitely not want to work.