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Once Is Not Enough by Mike McHair (recovered)
Once Is Not Enough
By Mike McHair
"And go get yourself a haircut." My boss`s final words after a twenty minute dressing down were about the worst thing I could hear. He placed the blame on me for my team`s failure to win a big contract and for the defection of two of the team to the successful bidder. It hurt that the boss and I had been friends for several years and he knew that I really liked my hair. In fact, I`ve never had my hair too short. Since the boss, Dick, had not specified what kind of haircut I had to get, I figured I would get it trimmed up and hope he was past the worst of his anger. My stylist Tina did a great job on my hair and I was feeling pretty good when I got back to the office. My boss caught me as I got off the elevator. "Mikey, what the hell do you call that? I thought I told you to get a haircut, not some pussy-assed styling." I could feel my face reddening and my eyes start to burn. "Now you get yourself to a barber who knows how to cut hair. Do I make myself clear?" "Yes," was my clipped response. "That`s yes sir, buster." I felt like my head would explode, but I spit out the words, "yes sir."
I walked out of the building and walked for a couple blocks before seeing a barber pole. I walked into the shop. There were two middle aged barbers, one was working on a customer. The other welcomed me into his chair. "Yes sir," he said, "what are we doing today?" I had not been into a barber shop since I was a kid, but I remembered that men usually asked for a trim or a regular. I knew the former would probably not be short enough for my boss and the latter would be too short for me. So, I replied to the barber "I`d like a pretty good trim." The barber replied, "OK, I`ll trim you up, but not too short, yeah?" "Yes please." He started right in with the clippers and that scared the heck out of me. A couple of inches seemed to be coming off, but not too much. He cleaned up the sides and back. My ears were uncovered, but I didn`t look too bad. Then he wet down the top and started on the top. Again, a couple of inches came off, he layered it up a bit and cleaned up my neck. My hair was a lot shorter than I ever have it. I didn`t look scalped, but I felt very uncomfortable. I looked in the mirror and I didn`t like my new look, but I figured I would probbly have to live with it for a while. Boy was I wrong!
Back at the office, I had a meeting with the boss and several of my colleagues. Several of the guys teased me about my haircut as soon as they saw me. I took it and laughed with them. Then Dick came in took one look at me shook his head and got on with the meeting. When the meeting ended, he looked at me and said "haircut boy," you stay behind, I see you are still having trouble following directions." Before the last of my colleagues had left, he started on me. "Well, that looks like half a haircut. Do I need to take you down to the barber myself?" By then everybody else had left. I slumped into a chair and looked at him and said, "Dick, sir, I know I messed up on the Fargate project. I know I can do better, but why are you embarassing me this way?" Dick looked at me and said, "I have my reasons." And then, a bit more kindly, "Mike, get yourself back to the barber and come back here with short hair, I mean short."
I got outside before a tear escaped from my eye. I tried to tell myself that in this economy, I was lucky to have a job and to suck it up. I was reminded of the last time I had a short haircut. It too was a punishment cut when I was in junior high. My father made me get a crewcut because I had let my grades slip. I went back to the same barbershop. My barber looked surprised to see me. I explained the situation to him and he offered to clean me up free of charge. I think he could see how upset I was. I said to him "my boss made it clear that its got to be short. Can you give me something like a long crew cut?" "Not a problem," he replied. "I`ll use a number 8 on top and clean up the sides and back real good." Oh boy, was the hair flying. I thought I was going to lose it as I saw what was left of my diminished crowning glory was cropped. When I saw skin around my ears and my bangs reduced to about an inch, oh it hurt. The barber did a good job, but I looked like a GI when he finished with me. Oh man, it will take me a year or more to grow this back.
When I got back to the office, I went to see Dick. I got some funny looks as I walked through the corridors to get to his office. I walked into his office and was surprised at his reaction. He was back to his old self. "Mikey, that is perfect man." "Yes sir," I said, not wanting to be tricked into another unexpected stomping. "OK Mike, drop the sir stuff. I had to make a point. You are my best manager. I had to stick it to you so that people didn`t think I was playing favorites with you. There is a good reason for the haircut, and you really got it right this time. You know our contract with Megasys, the military equipment people?" "Yes," I said, "its the one Frank Connors has run since he joined after retiring from the Army." "Right, well Frank has been asked to be an undersecretary of Defense and I need my best man to replace him. Frank always liked you but thought your hair was to "cissy". I wanted Frank to be able to trust you and give you his approval with the guys at Megasys before he leaves. I hope you aren`t going to mind keeping that crew cut for a year or so until you get established."
So, I learned today that one haircut was not enough and won`t be for some time to come.