You know I hate getting my hair cut. Its all that tedious chit-chat you are forced to have with the barber. Does he or she really care where I went on my holidays? – No! So why bother, lets just acknowledge that a haircut is a necessity and sit in glorious silence while it is done.
When we first moved to Warminster I used the Italian barber in town, and was delighted when I realised that he hardly spoke. He simply stood and cut.
However, I started to find that silence quite dis-concerting after the first trip there. There is something oddly menacing about a silent barber, just cutting away. Particularly when the ‘cut-throat’ comes out.
So I changed Barbers, and was prepared for the chit-chat once more. Sure enough the enquiries come about how my holiday was, or how is work come, and even as I answer I know full-well the barber isn’t listening, after all she must cut so many people’s hair in a day I wonder how much she can really be bothered to take in.
The thing is, where as I am great a believer in community, I don’t find small talk scenarios like the barbers are good representations of that community. Sure they are a place of interaction with others, but somehow they don’t feel like community in the same way as other retailers or the pub or Church do. Why that is I can’t quite put my finger on, perhaps it is mere prejudice on my part. The thing with small-talk environments like that is they are so false, no one really is interested in the conversation. For community to be affective we need not just to talk to our neighbours and people we meet, but we need to be interested in them, care for them and look out for them.
One of the best examples if this I have seen recently is my Postman. He is a guy, who talks to many people on his round, he looks out for those in need or who are at risk, he chats to folk and remembers things about them. A real stalwart of the community.
Real community has all those attributes my postie does. It asks about your holiday not because it should make conversation but because REAL community cares.