Barber missed regular interactions with customers during lockdown

Quinn Askew, a barber at Global Cuts.

Before the pandemic hit, Global Cuts was a bustling barber shop, where seats lined the walls of people awaiting their appointments. Conversations reached from the front to the back of the shop. Global Cuts has been the center of the BIPOC community in Amherst for decades, for my family, and for every family of color I know in Amherst. But for barber Quinn Askew, life during the pandemic changed drastically.

One of Askew’s best qualities is his ability to engage with people, but when the shop had to close due to the pandemic and then reopened with tight restrictions on the number of customers allowed in, he wasn’t able to do that as much. “Conversating, giving and receiving information, advice, and things of that nature [was harder], he said. “That’s really what I missed during the pandemic, engaging with my friends. I do consider my clientele my friends.”

Once the COVID-19 numbers really started to pick up, across the country businesses started shutting down, and unfortunately, Global Cuts was no exception. “You can just drive through Amherst and see all types of businesses that used to be there, places we used to go, boarded up, or that have moved on,” said Askew. As we know, these times were hard for everyone. “It was tough, because of the whole fear factor and also the not knowing,” said Askew. 

As the pandemic stretched on and global stress levels were growing and growing, Askew was able to “soul search” and find ways to deal with the stress and keep moving forward. 

“I exercise, I play tennis five or six times a week, and I listen to music,” said Askew. He also found relief in being able to spend more time with his family. “Just putting in time with the family really brings my stress down,” said Askew. They did more things like cooking, cleaning, and watching movies together. They were also able to get away on some family vacations to Mexico, Florida, and New York. 

Now that the world is beginning to settle into life amidst this pandemic, Global Cuts has reopened and is operating as close to normal as they can while still being safe. In the morning Askew, who lives in Springfield, gets his kids up and brings them to school here in Amherst before going to work. At work, Askew is cutting hair and talking to whatever customers are in the shop or his fellow barbers Khayyam Mahdi and Leslie Williams.  Then Askew picks up his kids from their extracurricular activities and they head home to do “the family thing.”

Askew has developed more compassion and empathy for other people during the pandemic. “The pandemic has made me reel things in,” said Askew. “I have to think about my fellow man because I’m not the only one going through this.” 

With all that is going on in the world, it’s hard to sit back and be grateful for the things that we do have, but Askew is able to do just that. “Something I’m grateful for now is simply my health,” said Askew. 

Askew has been able to take what has been a very hard time for all of us, and sculpt himself into someone he can be proud of. “Every day when I leave the house, I try to be a little better than I was the day before,” said Askew.