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The Barber Shops of Campbell Avenue

July 15, 2008

My weekend in Boston was nothing short of excellent. Our drive up to Boston was slow to start so my friend Katie and I decided to stop at New Haven for dinner and a much needed break from the car. After dinner at the Ivy Noodle and a walk around Yale, we jumped back in the car and continued on. Finding the hostel at Boston University was a bit tricky due to the fact that it’s at the intersection between Boylston, Commonwealth and Beacon Streets and there’s no clear indication of which roads go which way, but we eventually found it. Saturday was my day to celebrate my third blogoversary at Beaver Brook Reservation, and you can read about that at Colleen’s blog. It really was wonderful to meet everyone and see Bernard again. Katie and I returned to the hotel to change for our dinner in the North End and then a couple hours of bar hopping. On Sunday, we walked down Newbury Street and took the T to Cambridge.

At around four in the afternoon, Katie and I decided to head out so we could make it back to New Jersey before it got too late. This is where I should have suspected something was wrong. When I put my key in the ignition, I turned the key. But it didn’t move. It wasn’t a matter of turning the ignition and the engine not starting. I couldn’t even turn my key. I pushed and pushed and nothing happened. This has happened once or twice before, so I jiggled the wheel and heard something click. When I turned the key, the engine started and I figured something was just out of alignment.

We made a plan to stop at the Texas Roadhouse in West Haven that we had spotted on our drive up. We missed the exit, so it took a bit longer than expected to get to it, but we managed to have a yummy rib dinner and their ah-MAZE-ing rolls.

But when we got into the car, that’s when the trouble really started.

I put my key in the ignition. And nothing. Not a budge, not a slip, not a centimeter of movement. Katie and I called every guy we knew and none of them had any suggestions that were making the key go anywhere. I called Allstate’s emergency roadside service that I am a member of, but even they weren’t able to put us in touch with anyone. We tried called a few locksmiths, but either they didn’t have a way to help us or they didn’t serve our area (keep in mind, West Haven is like two miles from New Haven – it’s not like we were in the boonies). After almost two hours of desperate phone calls on cell phones that were about to die, Katie and I gave into destiny and we checked into the Best Western next to the restaurant.

The next morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn to a downpour. I spent another thirty minutes on the phone with Allstate to get a tow truck to come tow my car to the Ford dealership. By the time the truck came, the rain had stopped and we were on our way to the dealership.

The damage was pretty bad. The ignition was completely locked up and the only way to fix it was to replace it. Not the entire ignition column, just the silver part where the key goes in. While we waited, Katie and I decided to go get some breakfast. Katie actually ate earlier, but between stress and an surprisingly high fasting number, I was too nauseated to eat anything. But my blood sugars had falled back to normal so I was hungry.

After breakfast, we decided to walk around town and see there was anything interesting. At the end of the block, we saw a hair salon with posters that were probably around when I was born.

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Hilarious right?

We kept walking. Then there was another one. And there was another one.

We crossed the street and kept on walking. We saw a few funny things (including a toilet in the window display of a bar), but mostly we saw hair salons. A lot of them. All we could talk about was how amazing it was that there were so many barber shops. We couldn’t figure out why such a small town needed so many. After fifteen minutes it looked like we were about to come to the end of the road and into more residential areas, so we stopped and turned around.

“We should take pictures of them!” I suggested, so Katie and I walked back taking pictures of ourselves in front of every single one of them, including two that were next door to each other.

The total?

Thirteen.

Thirteen barber shops on Campbell Avenue in West Haven, Connecticut. There is a sign on the City Hall that says “West Haven… Connecticut’s Friendliest City.”

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Apparently they equate friendliness with your ability to get a hair cut.

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