It's been months since I've seen my barber and I've never been happier to see her face, even though it was covered up with a mask.

COVID-19 really threw me for a loop. Before the pandemic hit, I was visiting my barber "Meesh" pretty much bi-weekly. Haircuts to me are an important part of who I am and my character.

A haircut in general, no matter what you're getting when you sit down in the cutting chair, symbolizes a sense of confidence and new beginnings. It's one of the main reasons I get my hair cut so often, besides of course the fact that my Portuguese hair grows like thick, uncontrollable weeds.

However, when I walked into her Fall River barbershop for the first time today, I felt like it was the first day of school – but something was different.

She was wearing gloves and a mask, as ordered by Governor Charlie Baker as part of the re-opening plan. You could tell that the barbers, including herself, looked uncomfortable and tired. Their masks, although serving as a protective shield against the coronavirus, looked very uncomfortable. It's one thing to walk around with them in public, but having to wear them while you're trying to focus and not breathe heavily seemed impossibly frustrating.

Even my own mask that I was required to wear was constantly in the way of my barber's work and she had to go around it, making it difficult to work efficiently. I knew for a fact that if I was uncomfortable and having trouble breathing normally just by sitting in a chair, that she was suffering much more.

"It’s hard. I for one have asthma so wearing a mask all day is making it very difficult for me to breath and the hot weather doesn’t help. We are no longer taking walk ins due to the fact we can not have a waiting area so if someone does a no show or cancels an appointment it’s very hard to fill specially if it’s close to the time of the appointment which my Schedule has been one after another being booked. We also have to switch capes for every client including my own smock so we been doing a lot of laundry! We take extra time to sanitize our chairs and cutting area in between clients which can put us behind on schedule. I wish we could just get back to normal soon. It takes away from how much I love cutting hair! Don’t get me wrong I do love it but the fact of the rules takes away from a lot." -Michele "Meesh" Antunes

Most people like myself who have been waiting for the business doors to open to finally get their hair done cannot wait to get an appointment, making the barber's schedules non-stop from open to close. Clients are being put on a waitlist due to a large number of requests, and it's a very stressful situation.

When will the influx of haircut requests begin to die down? At this point, I feel as though this is just the beginning. With restaurants and public places beginning to slowly open back up again, the first thing people want to do is look good and peel back that quarantine grubbiness.

Haircuts, styles, coloring, etc. are on the rise and our local barbers are up against the wall trying to accommodate as many clients as they can within a small timeframe, all while standing for hours on end with a mask that's basically no good at the end of the day from sweating and coming in contact with several people.

I, for one, am very fortunate and blessed to have a barber like Meesh, who not only takes pride in her work but also does her very best to fit in as many people as possible with reasonable times left in between for cleaning and sanitizing.

So the next time you complain about not being able to get a haircut right away, make sure you take a step back for a moment and remember that these barbers and stylists are working long days and countless hours to fill the needs of their clients.

Oh, and one last thing: don't forget to tip. Most barbers and stylists will spend upwards to an hour on your hair, making sure it comes out perfect for a set minimum price. That tip goes a long way, my friends.

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