Jason Rodatz cut his father’s hair last week.
Although Rodatz is a licensed barber, it wasn’t an black market cutting, just one barber cutting another barber’s hair in a stay-at-home setting of a garage.
“Barbers have to have their hair cut,” Rodatz said.
Like the rest of the barbers in the state, Jason and Jim Rodatz, who operate Jim and Jason’s Barber Shop in Booneville, were suddenly unemployed when barbers, salons, nail technicians and tattoo artists shops were shuttered as part of the effort to try to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
The father and son being out of work would not the only effect on the family.
“In our family there are four of us laid off for this. There’s me and my dad, and (daughter) Taelor (Collier) cuts hair and (daughter) Kandace is a massage therapist.”
Collier cuts hair for women, mainly, in Booneville and Fort Smith while Kandace Rodatz works as a massage therapist in a chiropractor’s office in Fort Smith.
There may soon be an unemployment compensation avenue for barbers like Jason but he says creating the system, because barbers typically do not contribute to unemployment, has not been completed.
Neither Jason nor Jim Rodatz have ever been out of work.
For Jason, who also operates a shop in Waldron four days a week, that has meant going to working six days a week to nothing.
He’s been doing that since completing barber school in May of 1985. Excepting a three month stay with Wolverine Toy Company, it’s been his only job.
Jim Rodatz, who recently turned 80 years young, has been cutting hair for 56 years and has been a fixture in Booneville.
Since the Rodatzes stopped cutting hair on March 25, Jason says they have had multiple opportunities to violate the Department of Health’s mandate.
“Every day,” said Jason. “They said we could be fined no less than $100, or more than $1,000, and we could lose our license. I said you can do without a haircut.”
Besides the income, Jason said he has missed interacting with customers who typically visit the Booneville site where there’s always a television playing and copies of newspapers to scour while waiting a turn in the chair.
“I miss just visiting with everybody. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of joking and cutting up,” said Jason, with the obvious pun.
The Rodatzes will learn later this week when they might be able to break out the scissors and warm up the shaving cream.
A decision on whether barbers and salons can reopen on May 4, and under what restrictions, Governor Asa Hutchinson said last Wednesday, will be announced on Friday, May 1.
In the meantime, the Rodatz’s have been hitting area fishing holes.
“I’ve had a chance to do a lot of fishing, me and Dad,” said Jason. “I hate to see people getting sick and dying but me and my dad are getting a chance to do stuff together.”
Other than trimming a couple of gentlemen’s hair in side by side barber chairs.