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First Day by Deke Cutter
I have to admit, I re-entered the door of the small one chair barber shop with some trepidation. The barber had been friendly enough when I entered earlier in the day. I left a bit too quickly, with the excuse of sudden phone call when I saw the heavy hand he was wielding with the clippers on a fellow with hair covering his ears who had clearly asked for a trim. The barber did not look happy as I left.
I’ve always worn my dark brown hair on the long side. It’s a pretty elegant head of hair, full, thick and shiny. I get it trimmed regularly and it’s my pride and joy. So, when I interviewed for this new job as the head of government relations with a big educational consortium, I listened carefully for any "personal appearance" policies-there were none. You can imagine my chagrin, then, when the Executive Director, on my first day, called me in and asked ‘a personal favor.’ She said that the Board was meeting the next day and they had asked specifically to meet with me. "A couple of them are very old school," she said, would you consider getting your hair trimmed…nothing radical, just showing a little bit of your ear, a bit less on your collar." She insisted it was a one off, just until they got to know me and that she had not expected them to have time to meet me at this meeting. Normally, I would have been on the job for months and proven ‘my brilliance.’ What could I say? She’s the one who hired me.
My salon was booked solid, they could fit me in tomorrow. So, I hit the streets, I saw the barber,just a block from the office. I got in my car and drove around and could find nowhere that took walk-ins. I had a late meeting back at the office, and saw my boss walk past, looking at my hair with a worried expression on her face. As the meeting ended, I texted her with a scissor emoji and the word now. She replied 😊. I knew what I had to do. I m a communications professional, I can handle this.
"That must have been some phone call," he stated, as he walked past me to lock the door and turn the sign to say closed. "You’ll be my last client, you just made it in." He caped me up and asked me what kind of haircut I wanted. I explained that I just needed about an inch trimmed off at the sides and back. He said nothing, but picked up spray bottle of water and lightly sprayed my hair and combed it. I started to relax a bit, then he turned me so I was not facing the mirror. "Why did you do that," I asked. He replied that barbers like to use the mirror to confirm that their cuts are straight. Again, this made sense. I thought that things were going well. Then things changed.
In what seemed like a second, he had pushed my head toward my chest and run the clippers high up the back of my head—once, twice, three times. "WHAT THE HELL!" He jumped back, and asked "what’s wrong are you in pain?" "No, why are shaving my hair off, I asked for a trim?" The barber replied, I’ve got a number 8 on the clipper I’m leaving you an inch on the sides and back, I’ll leave the top long enough to comb if you want. "No, no," I said, I wanted one inch of my hair cut off and the rest left." The barber got really annoyed, then. "Well that is ridiculous, you should have said that. This a barber shop, I cut hair short, you saw that earlier. Jake comes in for his "trim" whenever he gets into town. He’d been gone 5 months this time." With that he held a large hand mirror to show me the back of my head. The carnage was great. He asked if he should complete the haircut or remove the cape. I was defeated. He back to work. When he finished the back, he began on the left side destroying my sideburn. Now I could watch in misery, as my former glory fell lifelessly into my lap. First one side, then the other. I thought the assault on my forelock and remaining long hair would be next, but instead, he went over the lower portion of my head again with a higher pitched pair of clippers, saying something about ‘a nice taper.’ Next I felt warm soft shaving cream, for the indignity of the removal of all but a tiny tab of a sideburn and newly raised neckline. Closing the cape tightly, he then said to me, you just leave the top to me and went to work. I felt like I was no longer present s long pieces of my hair fell around me. When he had finished cutting what was left to no longer than two inches, he went to work with what he called thinning shears which he said would make my hair lay flat. He then took some product, rubbed into the little hair I had left and combed my hair with a severe part on the left side. When he turned me around, I saw the barber standing next to a stranger with a very short back and sides haircut. I turned and looked for me, and the stranger turned too, and I realized the terrible truth. The stranger was me. Just then, there was a ringing….wait, I’m not in a barbershop, its my alarm, It’s time to get up for my first day at the new job.