Often when I cut an older man’s hair, he’ll say something like “make sure you cut only the gray ones” or some other joke about how he’s going gray. However, the best one I’ve heard so far is
“I’m not going gray, it’s the lighting in here! I’m going to go home and fix that lighting right now.”
A man came in for a trim. Although his beard was pure silver, the hair on his head was brown without even a hint of gray. He had a very laid-back attitude, and kept a mantra of “it is what it is.”
He told me a tale of another man (who had gone completely gray) that demanded to know what my client put in his hair to keep it brown. My client kept insisting that his hair was all natural and always had been. This went on and on until the other man became irate. My client ended his story with his classic “it is what it is,” and I couldn’t help but think that maybe it was this attitude that kept his hair from going gray.
A lot of times when I ask “what are we doing to your hair today?” The response will be something like “I want it shorter.” I roll my eyes, because duh, and then work out the details. Recently I got a slightly different answer though.
“I want a haircut, but I don’t want it to look like I got a haircut.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I asked him to clarify. He said he was going to a wedding in a few days, and he knows how fresh haircuts look in pictures. He didn’t want that.
I assured him that as soon as he washes his hair, the edges will lose that sharpness that give that “fresh haircut” look. I kept it to myself that I’ve never heard someone complain that a wedding guest had a fresh haircut. Then I found out that he was the photographer for the wedding. Generally they don’t appear in the pictures at all, by definition. But, I cut his hair just a little and reminded him to wash it, and he seemed satisfied.
It’s standard practice to ask people how they like their neckline shaped when I’m done with their haircut. Most people don’t care. Usually they say “just do whatever they did last time,” so I tend to do whatever looks more natural.
I had one man that normally had a straight / squared neckline. When I asked him if he wanted to stick with that, he said “You know what? It’s a new year. Let’s shake it up. Let’s go round this time!” I thought it was said in jest, as we often joke about how nobody will recognize you if your neckline is shaped differently, but he was serious. So I made it round.
When I showed him in the mirror, he was genuinely excited about it. “Yeah! I like it. I like it a lot! I think I’ll stick with this!” He kept admiring the back of his head in the mirror while I finished up. He was like a kid on Christmas morning, except his present was a slightly different haircut. I never knew such a small change could make such a large difference in attitude.
When I asked one male customer what he would like done with his hair, he said “I don’t care. Do whatever.” I resisted the urge to give him a trihawk, and instead just trimmed up the style he had. When I finished, I asked him how that looked. He said “That looks great.” I don’t know if he was just tired, or annoyed, or what, but his eyes were very clearly closed when he said that. I called him out on it, but he said the the same thing even when his eyes were open.
A man came into the shop with literally half of his head shaved. He looked a little frantic. We weren’t busy at the time, so I was able to take him right back into my chair.
“Help!” he said. “My clippers at home just died, and I have a job interview today! I’m supposed to be there in half an hour, but I called and explained I had a problem.”
It was an especially important interview, as he had just moved here from out of state to care for his ailing mother. He was currently holding down a job at McDonald’s, and they were making him work on Thanksgiving. This job interview was his ticket out.
I wanted to laugh, but I really felt bad for the guy. It wasn’t a subtle difference either – the left half of his head was probably about 3 inches long, and the right half was less than half an inch. Nor was it symmetrical. But I got him all fixed up. He even decided he wanted to do a fade instead of an all over buzz, because if he has to pay for a haircut, might as well get something fancy.
Hopefully he gets the new job and uses some of his money to buy a decent pair of clippers (or better yet, come back to the salon.)
When a man’s regular stylist wasn’t working, he debated coming back another day. Turns out, I wish he had.
He was extremely picky, even though he was getting one of the simplest cuts (military high and tight). When I pointed out a cowlick near the crown of his head, he swore up and down that he had never seen that before, and that it didn’t look like a cowlick at all – it looked “more like I had gone in there with my clippers and messed it up.” I tried to assure him that that was not the case, and showed him how combing it all straight out showed that the hairs were still all the same length, but he wouldn’t hear it. He just kept messing with his hair (what little of it there was left), and saying that “it just looks really bad.” He couldn’t give any specific answer as to what exactly looked bad, just that it looked “wrong.”
Lucky for me, my coworker at the next station heard all of this, and came over to see if she could help. He “explained” the problem by repeating that it just looked really bad, so she took the clippers and went over his head one more time. The clippers didn’t actually cut anything on this second run through, but it seemed to placate him. My coworker also pointed out the multiple cowlicks, but by then his tone had changed and he completely accepted these abnormalities in his hair without accusing anyone of magically creating them.
He still left a tip, which I didn’t expect, and I offered some to my coworker. But she was nice and said “don’t worry about it, I didn’t actually do anything.” Which was true in the sense that she didn’t actually cut his hair, but she had helped a lot by calming him down.