The 58-year-old Cleveland resident is that rarest of breed in the black community because of what he does and how he does it. He is fondly called “the hang around guy.”
He is most likely to be found in black barber shops where he serves in a variety of roles that is foreign to the occasional visitor and has gone virtually unnoticed in the annals of black history — until now.
Michael Elder, a barber at R&B Barber Shop on Inman Street in Cleveland, calls Ervin an asset to the establishment, stating, “He makes the place legit. I wouldn’t trust a shop without a hang around guy.”
Ervin, who is currently employed at Whirlpool, but on disability, is a master at making something out of nothing whenever he walks into the shop, which could be several times throughout the day.
“I enjoy meeting people,” he said. “I love to talk! In the shop we talk about everything from psychology to gynecology — pick a subject!” Ervin starts laughing.
“His favorite phrase is, ‘Google it!’” Elder added.
“That’s right!” Ervin said. “Let’s talk. If you don’t believe it — Google it!”
Ervin, who has three sons and one daughter, is a fun-loving character with an infectious laugh. Oftentimes he gets tickled down to his toes as you can observe his feet kicking feverishly while he’s laughing.
Yet Ervin takes his role as the barber shop’s “hang around guy” seriously, primarily in the sense that he can actually list what it takes to become one of these distinguished representatives of the black community.
“Not everyone can be a hang around guy,” he said. “First, you have to be old enough — experienced in life — to be a hang around guy. You need to have lived long enough to have some interesting stories to tell! You need to know when to laugh and when to mind your own business. That takes experience. You can’t take yourself too seriously, either. I can be the town clown and the fool of the world if I want. Everyone can’t do what I do.”
Ervin, a low-profile gentleman who can suddenly burst into the spotlight like a performing entertainer, laughs as he describes the benefits of any barber shop having a reliable “hang around guy.”
“Dan Reed, Rodney Williams and Michael Elder are my friends,” Ervin said. “I got their backs. If they need an eyewitness to something, I’m here for that. If they need extra security — I’m right here with them. If they want the latest local breaking news — I’m on it and I’m an instant fact-checker. That’s right. We can laugh, talk, socialize — it’s something to do without doing something while I’m on disability.”
The Sweetwater native may serve as a humorist, adviser, confidant, but never a troublemaker, because that is not what “hang around” guys do, according to Ervin. He said he loves Cleveland because the people are so nice and friendly, plus there are a lot of places to go and things to do in The City With Spirit.
“I don’t think anyone has ever covered ‘hang around guys’ before,” Ervin said, laughing. “That’s something they’ve never talked about in Black History Month — but every barber shop needs one. I enjoy it! No pay, but I enjoy it.”
Ervin, who gets his hair cut where he volunteer his “services,” said he has been exclusive to R&B Barber shop for nearly two years now.