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Behavioural Theories.

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Introduction

From San Antonio, take Interstate Ten west and you will find it. It's a straight shot and not too far of a drive. Forty-five minutes of weaving through the Texas Hill Country and you will run smack-dab into Comfort. Blink and you'll miss it. Nestled between hills, pastures, and the nooks of the Guadalupe River, Comfort may seem to fit the part of typical "small town Texas." Highlights include antiques, big high school football games, gossip, numerous generations of the same family, parades, community wide church barbecues, and a Dairy Queen. Sometimes even I, having lived there all my life, cannot make out distinctions deeper than these. Yet if you look close enough, there is much more to the community than meets the eye. It was not until I moved away that I was able to appreciate how truly unique it is. Founded by Germans in 1854, the community is a perfect blend of new ideas and old tradition. Comfort's quaint atmosphere is an attraction to many. So-called "newcomers" are those attempting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and give their children the possible advantage of a smaller school system. ...read more.

Middle

Upon entering the doorway, you are bombarded with what seems to be nothing but junk; pictures, old cowboy hats, posters, dust, newspaper clippings, trinkets, funny sayings, artifacts, belongings left by customers, Gael's "business desk" (complete with computer), and piles of hair. However, it isn't junk. Every item is important in some way. "I've worked in here for twelve years and still haven't seen everything," Jim later told me. The two original barber's chairs, accompanied by a reclining shampoo chair and several folding seats for waiting customers, made up the shop's collection of furniture. KFAN (the hill country's folk/country music station) is always heard at a lull and the barbers often tend to sing along. Gael and Jim occupied their own sides of the room, she on the right and he on the left. A mirror stretched the length of the left wall with a counter running parallel, in which piles of personal keepsakes have accumulated on the right and left sides, respectively. As I began snapping photos, Judy Wasson, the owner of the adjacent soda shop, had perched outside for a smoke brake and shouted, "Anna, you take those pictures to UT and they ain't gonna believe 'ya. ...read more.

Conclusion

The small talk that was observed everyday was not an obligation but a necessity, an activity that brought its participants a feeling of communitas. The conversation I had overheard about Center Point (the neighboring town) was not a jeer but a way of saying "We all belong to this town and it's the best place to be." The barber shop was a place where young and old could relate simply because they all belonged to Comfort in some way. The history of the building appealed to older generations and its display of cultural peculiarity drew in the new members of the community. As I watched Jim sweep up before closing on my last afternoon at the shop, he said, "This place has nothing to do with me. It would be going on anyway." I thought about this. Although Jim and Gael both play integral parts in what Jim deemed the barber shop's "on going saga," its importance to the community was a phenomenon in itself. Since its beginning, the Comfort Barber Shop has been a center for people to congregate and grow together in fellowship. Through gossip, news, small talk, smiles, concerns, handshakes, and laughter, the people that walk through the door of Gael's leave knowing where they belong. ...read more.

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