Alejandro Herrera

Graphic Designer

41

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The Comb

When you work at a desk and stare at a monitor for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week you are bound to develop habits that you become unaware of and for me it was combing my hair.

I blame David Beckham for always having good hair. I decided to take a photo of Beckham to my barber and get the same haircut. My new hairstyle was something you would see a man in the 1920s wear – somewhere between Boardwalk Empire meets Justin Timberlake in his ‘20/20 Experience – Part 1’ style phase. Having the thick wavy Mexican hair that my father passed onto me made me realize that all the pomade in the world couldn’t leave my hair in place, thus crushing my dream to look as suave as Mr. Beckham and Mr. Timberlake.

I was dedicated to having a new look for a reason - I was embarking on my first real job and having just graduated college I was eager to shed my former college-self good-bye and create a new almost-has-his act-together young adult me.

I acquired the comb around the time I first started working at my current job about two and a half years ago. I remember seeing a pile of things left in the break room that was up for grabs and seeing this one random black thing stand out to me. The packaging was a black rectangular case made of paper cardboard with a slim silver border and silver text reading Trader’s Hotel – Beijing and at the bottom read COMB and the translation for comb in Chinese. Inside was a standard black pocket comb and nothing else. The details are what drew me to the comb. It was crazy to me how much of this could be put into packaging for something ordinary as a comb but even crazier that someone just gave this memento away. I’ve never been to Beijing or China or Asia or anywhere east of Boston really, so for me I felt honored to have something from that far away. The funny thing is that the comb itself is nothing special, a standard pocket comb in black with an area at the bottom for gripping, but its back story is something I think about every time I use it. I will never know who got this comb or when they stayed in Beijing, but for me it’s an object from a place in that’s completely unknown to me which in retrospect is kind of cool – the mystery of the known.

With the aid of this comb I felt that I was keeping myself together. Putting back together the hairs in place that I nervously always moved around, I was using this comb to keep myself together and transform myself to the new almost-has-his-act-together young adult me. Every time I need a break from the glow of my screen and need to fix my hair, I look down and see that familiar black rectangular packaging always looking back at me.

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