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Ted's investment by Manny
Ted shifted nervously in the easy chair as he waited to be summonsed to meet the new boss. He knew the company was going through difficult times and there was talk about letting much of the old management team go. Ted felt he needed to make a good first impression, which only added to his nervousness and anxiety.
After a few minutes, the secretary gave a gentle knock on the door and gingerly opened it. "Mr. Jordan, your 2:30 interview. Ted Henderson is here."
There was a bit of muffled conversation that Ted strained to hear.
The secretary continued, "No, he's the one from the marketing division....the chap you told me needs to find a competent barber."
Ted could not believe his ears. Competent barber? His hair was his best asset! He was quite fond of his thick mane of plush dark blond hair that he styled into a posh executive look -- swept back into an elaborate quiff and very full in back to the bottom of his collar.
"Send him in," the boss boomed from behind the door. The commanding voice sent a chill down Ted's spine. It was is if he were a grumpy geezer barber pointing to the shaggy lad in the waiting area of his shop and bellowing out "Next!"
Ted felt very insecure and vulnerable as he struggled to look competent and at ease entering the new boss' office. Of course, he sensed that Mr. Jordan was eyeing his mane with visible disdain.
"Ah, the marketing guru. That's one bloated department full of pretty boys prancing around, feeling important and trying to act busy," Mr. Jordan proclaimed. He seemed to enjoy making poor Ted feel uncomfortable.
"Uh, well, the marketing division could definitely use some streamlining, but we are getting ready to unveil a new commercial that should boost sales by 33% over three years," Ted replied, trying hard to change the focus on tone of the conversation.
"Who drew those numbers out of a hat? Was it you, pretty boy?! We don't need phony statistics around here, we need hard work from the lot of you," Mr. Jordan scoffed.
Ted shifted nervously on his feet, waiting to be asked to sit. Or was the interview going to last just long enough to find out he was being fired?
"Look, Henderson, you and your team have a month. Show me improvement. Real improvement. Not phony stuff." He pointed to a stack of files on his desk. "I've been reviewing those. Too much busy work and too few results. Leadership offsite last month? Give me a break! Stop wasting the company's money. I'm going to give your department a major haircut. I mean, your operation is going to be marched into the boot camp barber shop and that useless overgrowth is coming off with a set of powerful balding clippers! What you and your whole department could use is a no-nonsense barber! All those prissy, stylized, girlie-boy tresses falling to the barbershop floor, if you understand my meaning. You've got 20 useless people. Two could handle it, in my mind. We're getting back to basics here! Simple, straight forward stuff. More time working the job on the clock and less time on the internet ordering hair products off Amazon!"
Ted stammered in stunned disbelief, "Uh, just two....?"
"That's right -- two! Two who will be committed to put in an honest, full day of work. And, furthermore, when our clients look at us, I want them to understand who we are, what we stand for and what we deliver. Good value and a product you can trust. It's like this -- when I look at someone, I don't want to be trying to guess, is that a man or a woman? Manly clothes and colors, along with a tidy short haircut, lets me know right away that I'm dealing with a real man. Do you understand what I am saying?" Mr. Jordan made himself perfectly clear -- and he rather enjoyed watching young, vain Ted Henderson squirm.
Ted swallowed nervously. "Yes, sir, I do. And I will show you that I can run that streamlined department you are going to put into place. I will, sir! You will not be sweeping me up from the bootcamp barber shop floor and dumping me into the unemployment trash bin, sir."
"So, you like my barber shop analogy, do you?" Mr. Jordan laughed, warming to Ted. "Military length haircuts are very practical. And, a flattop commands respect in my book, soldier!"
"Well, uh," Ted stammered, pawing at his locks. "I'd probably prefer a bit of length, but I definitely will be getting a major haircut myself. I'm going to model what your vision is for our department!"
Mr. Jordan beamed. "I like that! Have a seat. I want to hear more about your ideas....."
Ted took a seat with confidence and began to pour out his vision for how the department could operate in a more streamlined, efficient manner. He conjured up every economy he could think of and adopted a lot of Mr. Jordan's terminology about haircuts and no-nonsense, streamlined operations. Mr. Jordan smiled throughout his soliloquy.
"Yes, yes," he said, "I see we are on the same wavelength when it comes to what your department needs. What did you say your name was?"
"Ted, Ted Henderson," he replied, feeling pleased that he had made a good impression on his new boss.
Ted hustled out of the executive suite, heading straight to the bathroom. He took one look at himself in the mirror. The hair had to go! He would get a very short conservative haircut at the barber shop. Not a flat top, of course. But short. Very, very short! The thought of if felt a bit exhilarating. If he was to survive the big chop at work, he would need to endure the big chop in the barber's chair.
Ted felt almost giddy as he drove out of the parking lot. The idea of cutting off all of his girly hair excited him greatly. Maybe he could go for a flat top after all! Then it hit him like a bolt -- Mr. Lee's Barber Shop in the plaza at the subway. He recalled that neon sign in the window about their specializing in military haircuts and flattops.
Ted ran his fingers through his dense, golden hair. It felt so soft and luxurious. But soon, an old barber, perhaps Mr. Lee himself, would be driving a clippers up through it, pressed closely to the scalp.
As he drove he felt his groin stir with excitement. He decided he was going to go for a huge change. No better way to catch Mr. Jordan's attention and curry favor. This could be his ticket to ride up the ranks. And, under Mr. Jordan's firm hand, there was no doubt the company's profits would take off! Ted began to imagine hefty year-end bonuses and nice executive perks.
As he walked toward the barbershop, Ted locked into the idea he'd been toying with on the drive over -- a flattop! And, for extra good measure, he would ensure that it would be an extremely short. Military length. Lots of skin showing -- an ample landing strip! He would walk into work the next day totally transformed.
Ted's excitement was palpable as he pushed the door to the barber shop open. While it was his first time inside, Ted felt like he was "coming home". Yes, the cozy shop would become a familiar site -- getting his top tidied up on a fairly frequent basis.
As he stepped in, Ted glanced in the mirror -- oh, his heavenly hair! Soon most of it would be on the checked linoleum floor. The quiff was coming off! That thought strangely pleased Ted. He would fall completely into line with Mr. Jordan. The radical haircut would make things quite clear. Ted smoothed his hand through his hair for one final bit of sensory stimulation.
An old geezer, outfitted in a white professional-looking barber tunic, ambled into the shop from a back room. He smiled and motioned for Ted to take a seat in one of the big barber chairs.
Ted mounted the sturdy metal footrest and eased himself into the comfortable leather upholstery.
"So what'll it be for you today?" the barber asked, eyeing Ted's salon coif as he snapped the big white cape open and cast it with expert skill.
Instantly, Ted's corporate suit, complete with fancy cuff links and signet ring, disappeared underneath the plain white cloth cape. He eyed the line of clippers hanging from the counter warily. Suddenly his confidence about his impending makeover faltered.
The barber pulled the cape very tightly around the neck and secured it in place with a large metal clip. Ted found himself struggling for breath. Was the cape too tight, or was he just plain scared silly.
The barber stared at him, waiting for a reply.
Ted steeled his nerves. "Uh, I noticed in your window that you specialize in military haircuts," he eked.
"That's right. Flattops are my specialty," the barber replied.
That was the confirmation Ted needed. His confidence came back with full force.
"Well, if that's the case, I guess that's what I will go with. Give me a flattop," Ted announced.
The geezer eyed the nice mane of hair. "That'll be quite a change, sir," he panned.
"And that's what I need. A big change. I have a new boss who prefers a more streamlined look on the male employees," Ted explained. "Doesn't want us wasting time, fussing with a fancy style."
The barber took a comb to Ted's thatch and demolished the quiff, combing the massive forelock forward so that it dangled past his nose.
"Once I start cutting, there will be no going back," the barber warned.
Ted gripped the arms of the chair and held on tightly. "I'm ready! And, just to be clear, I want a lot of skin showing! I need to make a good impression. Give me my money's worth."
The barber smiled. "Landing strip or shoe?"
A shoe?! OMG!! Ted's groin sprung to instant high alert. Could he do it? Ted teased himself with the thought. A shoe! Why not go for it...the most manly of looks. The mass of hair dangling past his eyes was as good as gone.
"Shoe me!" Ted ordered.
The barber's shears were quick. No further confirmation was required. Snip, snip, snip. Off came the forelock in three chunks. Ted stared at the first chink in his corporate armor. His tall forehead was bare and quite white. He glanced down at this lap and exulted in the demise of his quiff. Now the rest needed to come off.
The barber spun the chair away from the mirror. Next thing Ted knew, his head was shoved down toward the cape and he felt the electric hair clippers moving tightly up the back of his head.
His stomach churned as he imagined the divestiture of his plush locks. A chilling air across the stripped scalp in back sent a shiver down Ted's spine. He tried to sit straight, but the old barber was firm. He maintained Ted's head bowed in a penitent pose. The clippers quickly stripped all the dark blond hair from the back of Ted's head while the caped client stared forlornly at the hacked off forelock on his lap. What had he gotten himself into?
"So this new boss of yours?" the barber asked, still making Ted keep his head facing down toward his lap. "Is he a military man?"
"He sure acts like one," murmured Ted.
"Didn't care for your girly look, I take it," the geezer commented.
"Not at all," Ted replied, feeling a bit hurt in that he had never considered his executive look one bit 'girly'.
"Glad someone has the balls to make men look like men these days. When I see the youngsters prancing past my window with their little manbuns...makes me want to drag them in her for a proper haircut." The barber paused, and then continued, "With the shoe, do you prefer the scalp lather shaved and totally smooth or a bit of a fine sandpaper feel to it -- just clipper shaved?" the barber asked as he continued clipping off the executive coif.
"What do you think is best?" Ted asked.
"If it's to impress the boss, I'd go with the lather. I'll peel you whole head, almost, like a grape! Leave just the slightest hint of a rim of hair."
Ted's stomach churned more vigorously. Oh, my. He was really getting his money's worth.
"I am desperate to keep my job. Mr. Jordan is going to fire 18 of the 20 people in my division. He says he's giving the company a major haircut!" Ted laughed.
"I like your Mr. Jordan," the barber laughed. He paused and then suddenly scooped up the shorn forelock still perched precariously on Ted's lap. "I mean what's the purpose of his plumage?"
In the process, the barber's hand brushed against Ted's enduring woody! Ted blushed with embarrassment and squirmed in the chair.
The geezer gave him a queer look, but quickly returned to clipping.
"Okay, sit up straight now. Time to take down the top! This is my favorite part of the haircut. Ever had a flattop before?" the barber asked.
"No, sir, first time. But, I've admired them on other men," Ted said.
"But it took a new boss to push you toward getting one yourself. It might take some getting used to. Especially with such a radical change," the barber chuckled. "Let me show you how things are progressing....."
The barber slowly swiveled the chair back to the mirror.
Ted had to contain a major heave when he saw himself almost totally without hair. He was unrecognizable!
"I can't believe that....I'm going to have to introduce myself at work!" he exclaimed.
"Maybe you can wear a name tag -- you know, 'Hi, my name is....'"
"Ted! And this is my new shoe!" the caped client joked, reaching out from under the cape to feel the fine stubble on the side of his head.
Ted was totally energized by the divestiture of his pretty boy locks. The silken clumps looked wonderful on the cape. He could scarcely wait to feel the barber's straight edge razor being scraped across the top of his head.
Ted watched in rapt attention as the barber craft a very manly shoe on the top of his head. It radiated like a discrete tiara. He could not wait to show off his new look to Mr. Jordan. Even when the barber held up the mirror and showed the back of his head which was almost all skin, Ted felt thrilled about the makeover.
Finally, the cape was off, and his prettyboy look lay scattered into a million piece over the linoleum floor.
"Good riddance, eh?" the barber comment.
"I’ll say! Got rid of the fussy hair style to keep my job. And guess what, I like the shoe!" Ted said enthusiastically as he handed the barber a $50 bill. "Keep the change, by the way. This is the best investment I ever made."