South Portland barber, Joe Souza, was destined to become a barber. The Massachusetts native grew up surrounded by siblings, uncles, and cousins that were all barbers. So it was only natural that his father, also a barber, felt compelled to enroll him into barber school at a young age.
But for Souza, a career in barbering was more of a backup plan than a dream job. In fact, he went on to earn college degrees in political science, history, and education. From there, Souza began bouncing around from job to job working as a paralegal, teacher, and even a lobster vendor, to name a few.
Despite his colorful resume, one of Souza’s major passions went unfulfilled: his passion for writing. Although he started dabbling in writing during his college days, hectic work schedules left little time to truly pursue it. While searching for a way to make greater space for writing in his life, Souza remembered his backup plan.
After deciding to settle down with his family back on the East Coast, Souza contacted the Mill Creek Barber Shop in South Portland, Maine in hopes of a landing a job. He works there to this day.
His transition into the barber profession proved fruitful. Not only did Souza receive more free time to write novels (horror and crime fiction are his specialties), he has also found limitless inspiration for characters, settings, and plot lines by interacting with his everyday clientele.
Souza believes that barbershops are particularly unique places because, unlike virtually anywhere else, customers don’t have ready access to their cell phones while getting a cut. As a result, clients and barbers alike rely on conversation as their main source of entertainment; conversations that often inspire story ideas.
By way of explaining this inspiration, Souza simply told the Portland Press Herald “the barber’s chair is a window on human nature.” Well said, sir.