‘All work done by students’

Kyle Belcher, who headed up the architectural design of the house for the “Team California” (Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts) entry in the Energy Department’s Solar Decathlon, said there were many “aha” moments in the construction phase, since architecture students rarely get to see their designs move from the drawing board to building while still in school.

It reminded me of a college I used to visit, but one where students had lots of real-world practice: City Barber College in Detroit, where signs for the dozens of chairs read (or is that warned?): “All work done by students.” It was the “buyer beware” in return for getting a haircut at a low price.

Once as I was waiting for my turn in a chair, another customer left quickly. It seemed he had wanted his hair to go “over” his ears. But “over” turned out to be a highly imprecise word in the milieu of student barbering. Does “over” mean covering the ears, or does “over” mean above the ears? The student barber interpreted his customer to mean the latter; the customer had intended the former. When handed a mirror to examine the tonsorial artistry, the man was so upset he nearly threw a punch at the young barber — or so the barber-in-training said. Suffice it to say the man did not leave a tip.

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