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A Little Trim by A Recruit

At 18, I had just graduated from University in England, and was looking for a career.

Alas jobs were few and far between at the time. My father came home one night and announced that a friend of his was looking to recruit a graduate to train as an accountant, and would be prepared to interview me the following day. My father threw me the keys to his car, a quite unprecedented step! Though he did then spoil the moment with a wry quip, `I hope that this means you`ll smarten yourself up, at last.`

Next morning, I was woken early by my father as he left for work, he brought me a cup of tea, which again surprised me as I hadn`t realized my father even knew how to boil a kettle! I could tell this was going to be no ordinary day! I showered quickly, and sat down at the mirror to dry my hair. I was proud of my look, it had taken years to perfect, my hair was thick and wavy, an attractive dusky blond color. Although it had caused some battles in the past, my parents had come to accept its luxurious length, curls cascading down over my shoulder and coming to a stop just below my shoulder blades. I applied mousse, more than usual as today I wanted to impress, and turned the hairdryer towards my head. After 30 minutes I was finished, it looked as good as ever. I finished with hairspray, and reached for the crisp white shirt my mother had lovingly ironed the night before. My suit on, and a final look in the mirror and I was off. It took a little over an hour to drive to Taunton, it was a small town and I soon found the office.

As I walked through the reception, I was struck by the tidiness of the place, the magazines were laid out on a table in exact rows, the leaflets on the rack all perfectly spaced and the pictures on the walls hung with precision. It was a warm muggy day, and this coupled with my nervousness had caused me to sweat, beads of perspiration had formed on my forehead and my fringe had stuck to my face. I announced my arrival to the receptionist, who grinned and pointed to a seat, where two other young men were waiting. Both were of a similar age and similar build to me. Both wore dark suits like mine. Both had dark brown hair, cut short and neatly tapered into the neck. They looked cool and relaxed as they waited. We were to be interviewed by Mr Land. The cozy silence was suddenly shattered as he bellowed `Next!`, and the young man nearest the door sprang to his feet, and marched in to the adjoining office.

After twenty minutes the scene was repeated, and I was sat alone, leafing through an old copy of `Soldier` magazine, my nervousness was growing. Suddenly, another roar can from the office and I found myself jump to attention, I checked my hair in the mirror, one last time. I had started to get bored at home all day - I really wanted a job - this was my chance. Next! the booming voice shouted again. tersely.

As I entered the room I stood tall, there was a large desk by the window, where Mr Land sat. The sun streamed in from behind him, he pointed to a chair in the middle of the room. I hung up my jacket and loosened my tie. I sat down, the sun in my eyes, sweating even more now. The interview went well, Mr Land had been in the army with my Father, and he seemed to hold a genuine affection for him. `I`d really like to offer you the job...` said Mr Land, My heart pounded, at last an opportunity. I wiped my brow with my trembling hand. `... but would you be prepared to trim you hair a little? This is a small town and a lot if my clients would object to hair that long.`

My heart pounded even harder. What was happening? Still I really wanted this job. What harm could a little trim do? I needed some split ends cut anyhow. `Sure , no problem,` I replied.

With that, Mr Land got up from his chair, and I could see him properly for the first time, as the sun was no longer in my eyes. He was a large muscular man, perhaps a little over weight and sporting an incredibly sharp flattop. I went to stand up too, assuming the interview to be over, but he put his hand on my shoulder pushing me back down into the chair. He stood behind me, and opened a drawer of a filing cabinet. I assumed that we were going to sign a contract or something. A droplet of sweat ran down my nose. Suddenly the drawer was slammed shut, I jumped, and instantly a white sheet was draped around me as I sat. I jumped again, but those strong, muscular hands returned to my shoulders to reassure me. I hadn`t expected this, but like he said it was just a little trim, and it sure was hot in that room. No time like the present, eh son?

I`ll soon have you smartened up. How short do you want me to cut it? `Umm whatever you think is suitable,` I choked out nervously, `After all, you`re the boss now, Sir!`

Another bead of sweat dripped from my nose. Mr Land turned on an electric fan. The hands lifted from my shoulders, my heart continued pounding, I kept telling myself not to worry it`d only be a little trim. I struggled to suppress the small tears that were forming in the corners of my eyes. First, Mr Land tried to comb my hair, the sweat and hairspray made this difficult. He muttered under his breath, then cursed. I winced as he pulled apart the tangled knots, and that reassuring hand came back to my shoulder. He sprayed my hair with water to free the knots, and cooling drops trickled down my forehead and neck The sun was still in my eyes, and then I heard that first snip. It seemed different somehow to the sounds I was used to, stronger and louder. Snip! Snip! Snip! He seemed to be getting faster. Snip! Snip! Snip! He worked around my head, with the comb he seemed to lift each lock of hair, and would then quickly cut of the ends with the scissors. Snip! Snip! Snip! It was an odd experience. not being able to see what was going on in a mirror. My mother normally cut my hair at home in the bathroom, and was very slow and careful. Snip! Snip! Snip! After four or five minutes he had gone from the right hand side of my head round to the left. We didn`t speak. The electric fan whirred away in the background. Mr Land stopped momentarily, and I heard the filing cabinet open again, I assumed he was getting a hairdryer, as I could hear him plugging it in to a socket. Suddenly, there was a sharp click, followed almost immediately by a distant whirring. I looked across to the fan, it still seemed to be working. The whirring became louder as Mr Land returned to my left side. My mind was racing, my heart pounded faster then ever, I wanted a little trim. `Keep still son,` Mr Land muttered, sensing my unease.

He placed his strong left hand on my head, and pushed me to the right, the whirring grew louder and louder. These were electric clippers. He placed them behind my ear, and the vibrations sent a shiver though my body, then his grip tightened on my head and he moved the clippers slowly up my head. The whirring changed in tone. Buzzz! He proceeded to go around my head in the same manner as before, as he got to the back, his vice like grip changed, and he pushed by head down, forcing my chin into my chest. Buzzz! As I looked down, a large clump of my hair fell into my lap, it must have been four or five inches long. Another followed quickly. I relaxed, after all what was four inches when my hair must have been at least sixteen inches long. This was only a short trim after all. Mr Land must have sensed my change of mood. `I knew you`d like it son, just sit back and enjoy it!`

My mother had never used clippers to cut my hair, and at this moment I felt strangely cheated by that. It was quite a feeling, as they glided up the side of my head, the tone changing as they went. All too soon, Mr Land was stood on my right hand side, and the room fell silent. He reached again for the comb and scissors. The tangle didn`t seem to be a problem this time, as he combed my hair forward. My wet fringe still dangled down to my chin. As I looked at it, with the sun in my eyes, it seemed golden in color. I was relieved to see it all there. Mr Land, came to the front, he put his hand under my chin, and pulled my head up. He stared ahead at me intently, but didn`t seem to notice me, his other hand came up to my forehead holding the scissors. I instinctively closed my eyes. Snip! Snip! Snip! My eyes followed, almost in slow motion, as my fringe fell into my lap. I felt sick. Mr Land quickly moved behind me, and the clippers sprang back into life , his left hand came back and gripped my forehead. He pulled my head back. He was poised with the clippers above my head, and my eyes were staring straight at the metal teeth as they vibrated, and then they ran across the top of my head, to the back. Several times they passed, after each pass I could feel the severed hair tumble onto my shoulders. The clippers at last were discarded. Small flecks of hair were stuck to my forehead and nose, making me itch. I tried to take my hand from under the sheet, to brush them off, but was stopped by that strong hand on my shoulder. He reached for a small white brush, and removed those stray hairs, he then stood behind me and brushed all of the accumulated hair from my shoulders forward into my lap. I looked down in horror, as the pile of hair in my lap grew and grew. Some clumps must have been a foot long, it looked limp, tangled, wet and sticky, from the copious amounts of mousse and sweat it contained. I felt sick. how could I have kept this on my head. Next, Mr Land produced a straight razor. I must have looked horrified. `I`m just going to finish up by tidying the edges, son,` he told me.

The scraping at the back of my neck, made me aware for the first time that the long locks had gone. I felt good. I was no longer sweating. Finally , Mr Land stood back, he walked slowly around the chair, carefully inspecting his work, pausing occasionally to trim a few loose hairs. At last he seemed satisfied, and loosened the cape around my neck. He held back each of my ears in turn, and brushed away the loose hairs, and then blew strongly to shift the more stubborn ones. Lifting one side of the cape, he carefully removed it , and I watched my locks spill onto the floor. He walked to the door, and I remained seated. `That`s it your done! Can you start on Monday? I`ll see you promptly at 8:30am,` he barked as he left the room.

I heard the front door slam shut. I was alone. I remained seated. I wasn`t sure if I could stand up. Suddenly I felt an irrepressible urge to touch my hair, I reached up, and was startled to actually miss the top of my head, which now lacked the extra inches my long hair had given to my height. My hand came down, and I stroked the soft fuzz I now sported. I sat for several minutes running my fingers around my ears, up and down the taper at the back of my neck. It was a wonderful feeling and sent a quiver down my back. I had never had my hair this short before. I stood up and walked to the door, put on my jacket. I felt taller. I turned and took one last look at the chair. I was amazed to see the huge mound of my hair strewn around it. How could it all have been mine?

While passing through the reception, I stopped at the mirror. I gasped as I looked back at a stranger no not a stranger, but it wasn`t me. My curls were gone, on the sides was just a mere hint of the blonde hair that had been there minutes earlier. On top, those sixteen inch locks were now only a quarter inch long, standing upright to attention in neat orderly rows. I ran my hand over my head again, and again, loving the sensation it gave. No this was not a stranger, this was Mr Land looking back at me in the mirror.

Ten years later, I am still working with Mr Land, and he still gives me `a little trim` first thing every Monday morning, in that same chair in his office. He`s retiring soon, and I`ll take over his practice. I`ll need to interview for a new assistant, and you can no doubt guess the qualities I`ll be looking for in each

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