My haircuts over the years have led to a few impressions:
* For a long time, I saw all barbers as the same: Any candy-striped pole/sign would get me inside. They were as much a given in the landscape as the sole barbershop at Edwards AFB where I worked one summer.
* Eventually, however, my indifference, my lack of preference ended. I came to the conclusion women barbers were more objective than male barbers. Women seemed to listen to what I wanted. I never left with a too close haircut that had an uncanny resemblance to the male barber's close-cropped hair.
So for a while, I'd go to SuperCuts, the national chain that employs mostly women. Their challenge tended to be the small talk. "What are you doing today?" she'd say. "It's my day off, nothing planned," I'd say, or What other day would I have to wait around on a walk-in haircut?! Still, SuperCuts worked out just fine, until prices crept inexorably up.
I wanted to do better.
So for a year or so, I went to a Vietnamese place, significantly cheaper, but the communication--much less small talk--was sketchy.
Next stop was one of the SuperCuts competitor chains. Early bird specials before 9 am. But I got tired of the woman cutter's sharing her health problems. Then one time—the last--she forgot the plan and was overzealous with the electric clippers. I was done.
I decided to give a guy barber a try. This guy was not cheap, and yet I wanted to believe he was a pro. His shop was basically a man cave, complete with Playboy magazines.
At first, the guy really delivered what I wanted. He had pride, saying at one point, You look good enough to get married today!
Plus the guy had a gift for gab. Why not enjoy talking about restoring old cars, like Hudson Hornets?
Alas, that year, 2016, was the year for politics, and the guy was not above gushing opinions. When he began a rant about Obama's idiotic pin-prick bombing in Iraq, and--in the heat of his emotional moment--took out the electric clippers and mowed me down, he was history.
Next, I stopped by a barber shop--I'd worked nearby once. I recalled seeing men barbers there, but inside were two women. Fine. I told Courtney what I wanted, something shorter on the sides and back .... She did exactly that, then gave me a card, wrote her name and the following:
AFO #5 Low
What's easier? Air Force Officer. #5 attachment on the clippers. Touching top of ears.
Now I walk in and ask for Courtney and no surprises. And my faith that women listen better is unshaken.
Image credits: totallyifoundout.com
Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection [and feel free to share with a friend] The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
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