Al Alborn

Al Alborn

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I remember my first Army haircut.  It was Jan. 31, 1968.  I checked into Fort Bliss, Texas, for basic training with a glorious head of curly hair.  We all lined up outside the barber shop and waited our turn.  Some were crying when they came back outside.  

Through 22 years in the Army, a civilian career, and in retirement my hair remained short -- until now.

My last haircut was March 6.  I am not sure when, or if, I’ll get my next one. I’m growing rather fond of finally letting my hair grow out.  I like the look, but I now need to use a “hair product.”  Things have changed since high school.  When I went to the local drug store to check out “hair products,” I discovered shelves of choices.  My hair is old, gray, and falling out.  I bought the cheapest brand on the shelf.

My point?  The pandemic has changed our lives in many small ways.  I go to my barber less and buy a product I haven’t used since high school.  I may need to invest in rubber bands if I grow a pony tail.

I haven’t gone to a sit-down restaurant in months; however, I do order curbside delivery a couple of times a week to help keep my favorite restaurants in business.  I check online availability of things I need rather than venture into a world where many don’t understand social distancing and/or don’t believe in wearing a mask.  

The UPS, FedEx, and Amazon delivery men and women visit so often they have become like family.  I may invite them to Thanksgiving dinner.  I now buy groceries a couple of weeks at a time to reduce the number of trips I have to make into crowded environments.  I visit my doctors, attend meetings and chat with my friends using Zoom and am now getting days to the gallon instead of miles because I am not driving as much.

Face masks are both a safety measure and a style statement.  Some people are making masks for themselves and their families.  Others have gone into the retail mask business.  I suspect businesses that sell material, elastic and those metal nose guards are doing quite well.

These small changes to our behavior because of the pandemic have market and business impacts.  Cumulatively, lots of these small personal decisions affect our economy.

Some of the changes we are making are temporary.  Others are permanent.  Some people bemoan how the world was while businesses go under and dreams vanish.  Others see the change happening in our midst, adapt, invest, create new businesses and are part of the world that is coming.  I am only certain of one thing:  Our world shall never be the same.

The best businesspeople I encounter are serial entrepreneurs.  They see nothing but opportunity and keep trying new stuff until something works.  When they find something that works, they sell that business and start another or retire completely.  My advice to businesspeople wondering how to adapt is to try lots of stuff, abandon failure quickly, and scale the stuff that works.

The crisis for me is what to do with my “12th haircut is free” card?   Maybe I’ll give it to someone who just separated from the military.  I’m thinking ponytail for myself, at least while I still have hair.  My wife hasn’t weighed in yet.  She gets the final vote.


Al Alborn is a political and social activist in Prince William County. His column appears every other week.  You can learn more about Al at www.alborn.net.

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