This week, the crow learned parking on Capitol Hill is a breeze at Christmas. What did you learn?
Where are you from originally?
The East Coast. I lived in Upstate New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Florida. So I just claim the whole thing.
What brought you to Seattle?
My job. I got a job here right out of college.
What line of work are you in?
I’m a software tester.
From what I hear, that’s an insanely hard job. You must be really meticulous…
You have to be really detail oriented. Can’t let anything slip by you, or you’ll get in trouble.
I just made the assumption that you were meticulous. Do you find that people have a lot of preconceptions about IT people?
Yes. People think we’re all socially awkward, and do nothing but sit at home playing video games.
You seem very social and outgoing—the opposite of that stereotype. Are people ever surprised when they find out that you work in software?
People are surprised, sometimes, when I go out around here. On the Eastside, less so.
Do you live on the Hill?
I do. I used to live in Kirkland for a few years, but I decided my social life was hurting because of it, so I decided to move over here.
Kirkland seems like it’s a very… well, a very different demographic. A “late night” place is one that’s open until at least 7:30 p.m.
Yeah. I was close to downtown Kirkland, and there were some youngish couples, but they were starting families, and pretty settled down. It’s pretty different from the Hill.
Is there anything you miss about the East Coast?
The people. A lot of my friends still live out there, and I have bouts where I’m, like, “I’m gonna move to New York!” Then, other times, I’m glad to be here because it’s more comfortable and what-not.
Do you have any favorite hangouts on the Hill?
Mario’s. I also like Grims a lot, and sometimes I stop in to The Crescent to listen to some crazy karaoke. Oh, and Montana.
Have you ever tried those cocktails in the percolating soda machines at Montana?
Absolutely! That’s why I like to go there. That, and the bartenders there are great. The bartenders everywhere around here are great.
Other than what you do now, what would be your dream job?
What kind of dance?
I like freestyle dancing. I used to go to 90s night at Havana a lot, but I realized I shouldn’t go out every night of the week if I want to be over in Redmond during the work week.
How do you manage to cut back on going out when you live around here? I find that hard, because there’s always something going on…
Netflix. Also, I’m applying to grad school.
What do you want to study in grad school?
Computer science. In college, I studied engineering, and just kind of tacked on computer science as a fun thing to do. So, now that I’m doing programming full time, I’d like to study it in more depth.
How long have you been a barber?
Fifteen, sixteen years.
What drew you to this line of work?
I got sick of construction. And my dad wanted to retire—he started this shop 46 years ago.
So, it’s the family business?
Yes, and this is my nephew [who also works at the shop].
When you were a little boy, did you want to be a barber when you grew up?
No, it was the opposite. I would get into trouble a lot, so Dad used to make me come with him to the shop, and I would have to watch him cut hair all day. I hated being here.
Was it this same location?
No, it was across the street, where the little sandwich shop is across from Key Bank.
What do you best about this line of work?
The hours are really good, the pay is decent…interesting neighborhood. Being a barber is fun.
Is there a time of day that’s especially busy for you?
We don’t do appointments, so you just never know.
Do women make up a very big percentage of your clientele?
Not very much. Probably five percent.
What’s the difference between a barber and a hairstylist in a salon?
It’s a different license. They can color hair, and perm it—we don’t to that sort of stuff.
It seems a lot of men go to salons for haircuts these days. Do you think people perceive barbershops as being old-fashioned?
It’s hard to say. Some people walk by laugh at us, and at my smock [with barber’s tools on it].
Those people are stupid. I love your smock!
Other people turn their nose up. Especially girls. Girls don’t like barbers, I guess. I don’t know why that is.
You’re a man with a serious mustache. What do you think about the mustache trend that’s sweeping Capitol Hill?
I like it. Obviously, I’ve had my mustache for a long time—I’ve had mine forever.
Do you ever shave people, like the barbers in old movies and Warner Brothers cartoons?
I don’t do razor shaves any more. A shave takes a lot longer than a haircut, and it’s not cost-effective for a small shop like this.
On TV and in the movies, barber shops seem to function as a kind of clubhouse for men. Did Eddie Murphy and Andy Griffith lie to me, or is it ever like that here?
Sure. A lot of guys come in here just to talk, or look at the magazines, or to sit around and bullshit. Or watch the game, when there’s a game on.
Do you live on the Hill?
No, I live in Covington, about 30 miles away.
What are some of your favorite places on the Hill?
I don’t hang out here too much except for lunch, but there are a lot of good restaurants around here. Coastal Kitchen, Olympia Pizza, Palermo…
Any other thoughts about life on Capitol Hill?
It’s nice, but I wouldn’t want to live here. It’s too closed in, I like a little more elbow room.
This is such a quintessential Seattle tableau: you’re sitting in front of a coffee shop on a gray afternoon, engrossed in a book…
I’m really into this book. This writer is really fabulous.
What book is it?
Lilith’s Brood, by Octavia Butler. She’s a native Northwesterner—she wrote here and died here. In this story, the Earth has been destroyed, and aliens save the few remaining humans.
I guess you survived the recent apocalypse?
I did. I was hoping for zombies, though!
Do you live on the Hill?
Yes, near Pike and Boren.
What do you do for a living?
I work for Temple De Hirsch Sinai, in accounting.
How long have you been an accountant?
About 16 years.
When you go out to dinner with your friends, are you always the one who divides up the check?
A lot of times, but I try not to bring my work into other parts of my life. However, I have given some accounting help to people who have small businesses. For instance, a friend of mine is one of the founding members of CHEW, the Capitol Hill Entrepreneurial Women’s group, and I’ve given some advice to some of the members on financial and accounting issues.
What are some misconceptions that people have about accountants?
That we’re boring! I go to Burning Man, I create things, I sew, I make corsets, I’m a great cook…
You mean, you’re not just a “bean counter?”
No. But it’s a great job, and I’m really organized, so it works.
Other than reading, making corsets, cooking, and going to Burning Man, do you have any other hobbies?
I’m starting to take a drawing class, which is something I’ve never done. I also like socializing with friends, and seeing movies. I’m a huge theater buff.
Any current movies you’d recommend?
The one at the Egyptian right now, Hyde Park on Hudson, about FDR and one of his mistresses. I also thought Django Unchained was really great; I love Quentin Tarantino. Go see it!
So, you live and work on the Hill…
On the same street. It’s great because I can walk to work, and do all my shopping. But this area right around here can get a little nutty sometimes, especially at night. I love nightlife, but right in this area [Pike], it can be a bit nuts.
Do you have any favorite hangouts in the area?
I go to Barça a lot. The people there are really nice.
Is there anything you really love and/or hate about the Hill?
There are a lot of really great restaurants and small businesses, but I think some of the gentrification that’s taking place is going to change the character of the area. Some of the condos are chasing a lot of lower income people away. Gentrification also chases away a lot of the clubs, because people in upscale buildings don’t like the noise. And I really hate what they’re doing with the Melrose Market area, tearing down the Bauhaus block. I grew up in Portland, which has kept a lot of its small neighborhoods, and I’d like to see Seattle do more of that.
What brought you to Seattle from Portland?
I came up here with my husband—he moved up here for a job in 1999, working for an Internet startup, and we just sort of stayed.
Any other thoughts about life on the Hill, or life in general?
Be good to each other and love each other. Try to make people feel good!
More CHS Crow:
Marguerite Kennedy is a freelance writer, semi-professional thumb wrestler, and recovering New Yorker who currently resides on Capitol Hill. She blogs at www.marguerite-aville.com, and does that other thing @tweetmarguerite.