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New Job, New Look by Tom Jansen
New Job, New Look
I had started the new job at the hospital on Monday. For three days, I endured new employee orientation. Every conceivable person who could say something to us new folks, did so. Fire Safety, Union reps, insurance reps, personnel, chaplains, social work, nursing, etc. I’m not saying that it wasn’t useful information, merely that, at the end of the day, all I wanted was to go home to my apartment and chill out. I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store, or doing laundry, or running errands, or cooking anything. Fortunately, I had already bought lots of produce, so I put a salad together quickly, topped it with a pre-cooked chicken breast, or some shrimp, or tuna, and spent the rest of the evening binging something on Netflix.
What I really needed to do was to find a good barber shop. My hair was not long, by any means. I had a short style with a side part and a trendy comb over. Well, it was as trendy as I could get with a receding hairline and a growing bald spot at the crown.
I searched for a barbershop that mentioned "military cuts" on its website. I found several, one which was just about 7 miles away. It sounded traditional and established and was located near the Air Force Base… probably a good bet. I decided to go bright and early Saturday morning. My idea: a tight medium fade, short on the top… short would be good. This is Florida, even it if is January. I had already put on shorts and flip flops twice.
The GPS took me right to it. Sort of. It was tucked into a corner of a strip mall and wasn’t readily apparent until I drove into the parking lot. I parked and strode in wearing my January in Florida outfit: khaki shorts, flip flops, and a blue t-shirt from a previous Orlando trip.
It looked nice enough. Three barbers, all older, two males and one female. I prefer male barbers, and young, cute ones especially, but, oh well, I figured lots of Air Force guys probably came here… so maybe a couple of them might drop by. The shop also sported a large mirror opposite the barber chairs, a great thing, as I like to watch the cut.
A couple of older guys occupied the chairs, and I waited patiently for the barbers to finish. They seemed to take their time and were meticulous. Nice.
Soon enough, one of the male barbers, in his 60s, with graying blondish hair welcomed me to his chair. Surprisingly, he had a British accent.
"What’ll it be, young man?"
"So, I was thinking a tight medium fade, starting at 0 and short on the top, but enough to brush to the side."
"Sounds good. I’ll have you cleaned up in no time."
He set to work with the clippers, making a line just above my ears and carefully blending it toward the longer hairs on top. He trimmed up the top in no time and handed me a mirror to look at the back.
"How about we go up higher with the fade in the back, around the level of the sides." I used my index finger to trace the line around my head. "Does that make sense?"
"Sure, I’ll make it higher, no problem.
He started in again, moving the clippers up farther up the back of my head. I was watching the progress, and, to be quite blunt, I was not happy with the way it was looking. I think he was giving me a fine cut, but I was noticing the thinness in the front. Maybe it was the lighting… I don’t know.
I swallowed a bit hard and blurted, "Let’s match the top to the sides…"
"Sure thing. We’ll trim it up nice and neat. You’ll have a good crew with tightly tapered sides when I finish."
"Um…" I stammered. "I mean, let’s take it all down… as far as it will go." There. I had said it, although I had not intended to when I came in the shop. I was all set for a nice military regulation taper.
"You sure, son? That will be quite a change. You can’t change your mind for a while." He caught my eye in the mirror, and I nodded.
"All right. Here we go."
He took the clippers a bit higher on the sides and then moved to the top with no guard on the clippers. I saw the hair peeled back and was enjoying the show. I was thinking that it was going to look better than I had thought.
He ran the clippers over my entire head a few more times until he was satisfied that he had gotten everything.
"What do you think?" he said as he showed me all sides in the hand mirror.
"That’s it! I didn’t know it when I came in, but that’s what I wanted. Thanks. Sorry for messing up all your careful work from the beginning." I said sheepishly.
"No worries. It looks good on you… so that’s you, huh? A good choice I think."
He cleaned up the edges with some warm shaving cream and straight razor. I handed him a $20 which paid for the cut and a generous tip and left the shop.
…. 20 minutes later, I was walking back to my car wearing an allover clipper shave… as close to the scalp as possible without the razor. I put on my mirrored shades and kept looking in the rearview mirror, enjoying the look and rubbing my hand over the stubble every few seconds as I drove toward home.
An hour after that, a trip to the CVS, and some careful lathering and scraping, and I was as smooth and bald as a cue ball.
What a change! And well worth it!