My hair isn’t that complicated. So when I sat down in the chair to get it cut this week, I assumed it would be a relatively quick and easy experience. I was wrong, dead wrong.
The lady who cut it wasn’t the person I normally go to, so I showed her a picture of myself and said I wanted it to look like the photo, “but much shorter on the sides.”
“Like, straight up the sides?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I responded, not understanding exactly what she meant, but assuming the picture was clear enough. Apparently, it wasn’t.
She picked up her clippers, started going at it, and the next thing I knew, it appeared that I had a wide mohawk.
“How do you like that?” she asked, seeming pleased with herself.
I paused, took it all in, and tried to think of a nice way to respond.
“Ummm — do you remember that scene from Steel Magnolias where Shelby gets her hair chopped off and has a seizure? That’s kind of what I’m feeling right now.”
The lady hadn’t seen Steel Magnolias, but she seemed to understand that I was displeased with the mohawk.
“I think it looks nice,” she said, trying to stay upbeat.
I started laughing nervously and said, “You don’t understand. I’m an employed, 37-year-old father of two children. This isn’t going to work.”
“So you want me to thin it out a little bit?” she asked.
“Thin it out, shorten it — whatever you’ve got to do. I just can’t go around looking like this. But let me take a picture first. My wife has to see this.”
Twenty minutes later, my hair was somewhat rehabilitated, and as I walked away, I said the weirdest thing: “You did a great job.”
What I Learned
I pretty much won Facebook when I posted the photo the next day, and a handful of friends suggested that I write about what I learned from the experience. So here you go:
- Well-meaning people will mess up and convince themselves they did you a favor. Look, that lady didn’t mean to turn my hair into a freak show. But even after I pointed out the problem, she did the same thing many of us do when we mess up: She told herself it wasn’t that bad and tried to convince me to agree with her. Surprise: it didn’t work.
- On a related note, apologies can go a long way. It would’ve meant so much if the lady had just said, “You know, I think we had a miscommunication. I’m really sorry. You clearly didn’t want to look like a 15-year-old German boy. Hold on, and I’ll have you looking like a hip, Mississippi highway patrolman in no time.”
- Sometimes we say things we don’t mean to make other people feel better, so that we will feel better. When I told the woman she did a great job at the end, I thought, What are you talking about? Why are you saying that? She did a horrible job! I think it was my way of trying to take my awkward feelings and evaporate them with a compliment. But the compliment wasn’t true. I would have been better off being honest with her or keeping my mouth shut.
- Embarrassment can be defeated with shameless exposure. When I initially thought about posting a photo of my hair on Facebook, my pride almost got in the way. Finally though, I ignored my embarrassment and vanity and just went for it. I never dreamed how many people would respond. But 226 likes, 133 comments, and several texts later, I realized the experience had been redeemed. Countless Facebook friends reported laughing uncontrollably, and that included my wife, who laid in bed laughing so hard she could barely breathe.
So there you go. That’s what I got out of having a stylist go after my hair with clippers like she was mowing her backyard. I hope you learned something from it, and if not, at least had a good laugh.