I get my haircut for $8. I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to stuff like that. At the same time, I don’t like getting bad haircuts, so I walk a very thin line every 3 to 4 weeks when I start to develop a noticeable shag. I’ve had my haircut by almost every woman in this little barbershop and can pretty well pick out who will do a good job and who will send me out looking like this guy. Here’s the thing…you don’t get much say in who cuts your hair…its based on a first come first server basis. So for the past 3 years, each time I need a haircut, I’ve thrown my number into the barber shop lottery and crossed my fingers.
Throughout my time there, I’ve occasionally noticed other customers decline the offer to be next in line and proclaim they are waiting on “Jill” or “Dawn.” I always assumed this was either because they knew the barber (can you call women barbers? Barbettes? Barbras? Haircutters? Anyway…) and wanted to give their business to their friends. It was either that or a report gained from several years of patronage that was not about to be interrupted. I never thought that the guy just liked the way she cut his hair. Well after one specific butchering from a lady who looked like she hadn’t cut or even washed her own hair in several months, I had had enough. So I implemented the “First Four Chair Rule.” Pretty simple really…if the barber’s chair was not in the first 4 closest to the door (which I learned was the hierarchy scale…the newbies’ chairs were in the back) I deferred being next.
This presented a problem. What did I tell the back chair lady when she asked me if I was ready? I didn’t know any of the girls well enough to say, “No thanks, I’m waiting on Heather.” And you can’t very well say, “no, you don’t fit into my First Four Chair Rule, so I must kindly decline.” The first time I was asked by a back chair lady after implementing this rule, I blushed, I mean bluffed. I said, “No thanks, I’m waiting on…um…” I quickly scanned the mirrors of the first four chairs where the names are posted picked out one I had a slight recollection of positive past results. “…Tiffany.” Tiffany looked surprised, and glanced at me with a classic ‘who the hell is that?’ look.
The rejected back chair lady also noticed Tiffany’s astonished look and says, “Did you know he was waiting on you?” Tiffany shook her head no and I left like an idiot. Perhaps on a busier day, when there were other people waiting to get their ears lowered, the back chair lady wouldn’t have thought twice and gone to the next in line. But this time, I was the sole shaggy haired individual in waiting room flipping through old magazines of Highlights. So the back chair lady sits in her own barber’s chair by herself and twiddles her thumbs. Literally.
I felt like crap. I didn’t even feel up to finding the hidden items in the Highlights picture puzzle. Once Tiffany finished with the haircut she was working on and it was my turn, there was an awkwardness as I sat down in her chair. So I blushed again…I mean bluffed. I said “So, Tiffany…how have you been since the last time I saw you?” There’s nothing more embarrassing than someone remembering you, but you having no idea who the person is. I assume it happens a lot with barbers, and she took the bait hook, line, and sinker. We chatted away like we were lifelong friends.
When it came to a subject where she thought she was supposed to know about, she would just pause and allow me to finish her thought. “So you’re still in…” I filled in ‘pharmacy school’ and she follows up, “that’s right, that’s right.” It was great. Now I can safely request Tiffany without the awkwardness. Even though I’ve been told it’s commonplace, I still feel bad turning down others. One bad part about giving Tiffany a monopoly on my business is that if I’m in a hurry and a woman in the first four chairs asks me to be next, I still have to decline and wait on Tiffany. It’s a small price to pay for even fading.
Yeah, she cuts hair pretty well too…for $8. I give her a $2 tip each time, so I guess it’s $10. Did you know it was custom to tip barbers? I had no idea for the longest time, but that’s a separate blog all together. This one is long enough…