LA Barber Finally Thinks About Retirement - At 94
For 58 years, Elvie Lewis has faithfully reported to work at his Los Angeles barbershop. The 94 year old has been cutting hair since way before the first man landed on the moon. These days, Lewis doesn't drive, but he still keeps a steady hand as he clips his customers' hair.
"They have fun and talk about the old days and stuff like that," said co-worker Troy Samwel, who has worked alongside Lewis in the shop for six years.
Step inside the South Los Angeles barbershop and you might think you took a trip back in time. There's a well-worn waiting bench, shelves lined with classic hair accoutrement including tonic and scented after-shaves, plus three antique chairs that have more than earned their keep.
So what's changed in his five decades of cutting hair? Well, for starters, the styles. Post-war 50's and the buzz cut was in, followed by the Afro in the 60's, dreadlocks in the 70's, mullets of the 80's, flat tops fades in the 90's and today's clean trims.
And, while the neighborhood outside the shop has evolved, inside has remained largely the same. Longtime customers might notice a difference in the price of a cut, but still a good deal at $15 a head.
"Everybody I know who retires goes out and gets another job. I already have a job," Lewis recently told the Los Angeles Times.In an age of shrinking 401k's and job insecurity, Lewis is a man who continues to do what he knows best. His customers say they keep coming back for a good cut - but also the positive attitude Lewis has also kept since he set up shop more than 50 years ago.
"All the time he's happy," said Samwel.
While his age and a shrinking customer base has him thinking retirement, Lewis hasn't exactly slowed down in his later years - he still puts in a 7 AM to 5 PM workday five days a week. That's more than the minimum 40 hours many of us consider full time work.
A clean cut for customers, an inspiration to the rest of us of how a smile and an excellent attitude can transform a shaggy workday into something far better.
"I don't know what's going to happen to him if he stops cutting hair," Samwel explained. "He can't do nothing else!"
Ed is a journalist who has worked for some of the largest mediaorganizations in the U.S.His career has taken him to places big andsmall across the nation. With experience at various employers, Ed'scareer has run the gamut - he's been hired, been the one doing thehiring, quit and, most recently, laid off for the first time.Thankfully, Ed has never been fired, although many years ago he oncecame close while working part-time at a pizza place - turns out it wasa misunderstanding.