Local

Wheelchair Can't Cut Barber's Dream

Barber Trey Guy prepares John Alexander for a haircut Friday at Barnes Hair & Spa Salon. Guy was born with spina bifida and uses cruches and a motorized wheelchair. Below, Guy trims Alexander's hair.
Barber Trey Guy prepares John Alexander for a haircut Friday at Barnes Hair & Spa Salon. Guy was born with spina bifida and uses cruches and a motorized wheelchair. Below, Guy trims Alexander's hair.

Trey Guy is a 23-year-old barber. Probably not much different from any of a hundred other guys in the area who stand on their feet all day cutting hair to make a living.

The difference is that George "Trey" Guy does not stand on his feet most times. His best work is done from a wheelchair.

Yet if your name is Willie James Heath, and you want a haircut that will make you look good, "All that matters is my barber can cut hair. And Trey can cut hair."

Guy has spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spinal cord. Still, all he ever wanted to do growing up in Chester was cut hair.

"I knew from the time I started going to get my hair cut at the barber like every other kid on a Saturday," Guy said. "I started cutting hair at home in the kitchen, like everybody does."

By the time Guy graduated from Chester High School in 2003, he was ready to get serious. He went to barber school. About a year ago, he started working at a place in his hometown.

Then he called up a guy he heard about in Rock Hill, Antonio Barnes of Barnes Hair & Spa Salon on Main Street. Barnes, with 30-plus years in the business of hair styling and well known in the trade, has a salon that caters to women. But here was this guy on the phone asking if he could rent a chair -- hairdressers and barbers often rent chairs at salons -- and start barbering for men.

Barnes told Guy to come in for an interview. In came this guy with crutches and this wheelchair. Barnes said to himself, "Who is this coming through the door?"

Guy introduced himself and told Barnes all about his skills and training. He said he only wanted a chance to succeed. Then he said he wanted to give $1 from every haircut he made to charity, so that somebody else with a handicap or disability could get a chance to do something in life.

"I just want to help people." Guy said. "I've never listened to what I call 'negativity.' I never thought I couldn't do anything. I said I was going to become a barber and I am a barber."

So a couple of weeks ago, Guy set up shop at Barnes' place.

"First day he shows up so early, he is here before me," Barnes said. "Then I see every day he is here early, before me. He stays all day. He wants to work."

Guy's work ethic and gentle manner have already rubbed off on those around him. Kayla Evans, who gives the massages at the salon, gives Guy a 15-minute neuromuscular massage on his legs most mornings to help his circulation and avoid fatigue.

Guy works in a special wheelchair that he received from the state's vocational rehabilitation agency. The chair has hydraulics to lift him up to the level of the person's head who is getting the haircut.

Like all young barbers starting out, Guy has to build a client base. Barnes, all these years in the hair business, said word of mouth -- reputation -- is the advertising that brings in new customers and keeps the current ones.

"I'm a barber," Guy said. "I can make somebody smile when they leave. Make them feel good about themselves. If I do that, I did my job -- and I feel good about myself."

  Comments