Strange Barbers

Feb. 4, 2005 7:30 a.m.

When you travel for extended periods of time, you need to do things on the road you'd normally do at home. Laundry, for example. When we were embedded with the Marines during the war, we had to wash our clothes in a bucket, and hang the stuff off the side of our armored vehicle, or on the branches of a bush. The dust was so bad the clothes were usually dirty again by the time they dried.
Haircuts are another necessity.
Most people have someone they go to on a regular basis. You try different people, find someone you like, and stick with that person. I actually have several favorites at FOX who work in the green rooms and do a terrific job, including Donna, Keira, Linda, and Mary.
But think about when you go to someone for the first time. What if that person doesn't speak your language? What are the odds you'll walk away with a smile?

I actually got called into a supervisor's office once, and was asked who had cut my hair so short. I refused to reveal the "offender," protecting my source like all good journalists should, but when I thought about it later I wondered what exactly my boss might've done to the person who simply took a little too much off the top.

I bring this up because I got a haircut in Jerusalem this morning, and it got me thinking about all the other times I've sat in a barber's chair in foreign lands. I've been trimmed in Islamabad and Karachi, Pakistan, where they made liberal use of the electric razor and included a shave in the deal for less than ten bucks. I got cuts in salons in Macedonia and Albania, where our fixer/translator helped explain what I wanted, with mixed results. Twice during the embed I got haircuts from Marines, in the desert in northern Kuwait and southern Iraq. There was at least one guy in every company who had an electric razor, and they always issued a disclaimer before I sat down. A "high and tight" was no problem, but they weren't trained with the scissors, which is one reason I wore that floppy hat every time I went on air. (Not that I don't appreciate the effort!) I also got scissored a couple times in the barbershop of the Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad. They too offered a straight razor shave and head massage, which I declined once but later accepted with some trepidation. I can't help but get nervous when someone has a long blade that close to my neck.

This morning it was Shlomi's turn. He works at a place called Haim Ha'sapar on Hillel Street, where they offer coffee when you walk in. They wash your hair twice, once before and once again after to get rid of the loose hairs. He did a careful, quality job for 60 shekels, or about 15 bucks. I tipped him 20 shekels more, grateful and relieved.

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I watched you report from Iraq, along with all the others reporters on TV, and I simply wanted to say that you are the best reporter in the news industry today. Hands down. It is very refreshing to see a guy just report it like you do. — Tom


What an exciting time to be in that area. Will look forward to your accounts of how people are reacting. Stay safe.

— Jo Ann (Cottonwood, AZ)


I really enjoy your reporting and your blogs. You are honest and down to earth, telling and showing us what we really want to know.

Although our church goes to the Holy Land every year, I am disabled and unable to go. I have seen lots of videos, but I really look forward to your reports in this important center. What if "peace" breaks out while you are there? How exciting. Keep up the good work.

— Maggie (Downey, CA)

Hey Rick,

Just a quick note to say how much I appreciate FOX News and especially you and your professional, yet fun approach to reporting. I always enjoy listening to you and know that I get the "facts" and not a "packaged report" like some reporters. Keep up the good work!!!

— Eileen
A Rick Leventhal/FOX News Fan from Milton, IN