Thirty Days in a Fuzhou Barbershop

What would it be like spending 11 hours a day washing hair, giving massages, and sweeping floors in a Chinese barbershop? How would it feel to work alongside 16 other Chinese employees who spoke no English and subsisted on less than 200 dollars a month? What could be uncovered about the Chinese working class by entering their world for a one-month period? In May 2007 I decided to find out. For a 31 days I worked as a hair washing assistant, or “little brother,” in a Fuzhou barbershop. Alongside my Chinese co-workers, I spent my 11-hour work days doing the grunt work around the shop, pampering Fuzhou’s upper middle class, and discovering creative ways to kill exorbitant amounts of down time. The following are posts of my experiences and observations from my time as a little brother in the Red Sun Barbershop. Please feel free to read and comment. Enjoy.

5/2 My New Job in a Barbershop
5/2 First Day at the Barbershop
5/4 Day 2: Exhausted
5/8 I may work in a barbershop, but I’m not a barber.
5/9 Me the Xiao Di
5/10 Johnny Be Good
5/11 The Huan Ying Guang Lin Meeting
5/12 The Year of the (Guinea) Pig
5/13 Snakes in a Barbershop
5/14 I Get Highlighted!
5/15 Where are all the women?
5/15 Miscellaneous Updates
5/17 Employee BBQ!!!
5/17 White People with Big Shelves
5/19 Facts and Figures: Hours Per Year
5/20 Corruption in the Barbershop
5/21 More Facts and Figures: Money
5/22 Coming to America…Fuzhou’s Main Export is People
5/23 Long Hours and Little Work
5/26 More Comments/Limitations of the Project
5/26 Sanitation with Chinese Characteristics
5/27 Barbershop Hierarchy
5/28 Cohabitation Nation
5/30 The Tale of Adamum and Johnny
5/31 My Name is Benjamin Ross, and I’m a motivational speaker. I’m 27 years old, and I work in a barbershop down by the Min River!
6/1 An orange goatee…to match the blonde highlights
6/2 The End of the Month Meeting…with Special Guest Speaker, Benjamin Ross!
6/3 Target Marketing to Fuzhou’s ‘Other’ Barbershop Employees
6/3 Barbershop Poll: Best Hair…谁的头发最酷?
6/4 The Final Stretch: Just 2 More Days
6/5 My First Official Wash
6/8 Last Day on the Job