Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Little Too Short...

I have discovered yet another downside to moving around so often.

Bad haircuts.

I went today, for the second time, to a barber shop that's attached to my apartment building. I pass it often, and every time I go by, I see the same thing: lots of guys getting their hair cut by lots of Asian women (I'm not sure, but I'm guessing Vietnamese.) It's almost always busy in there, though the two times I've been, I've only had to wait maybe five minutes each time.

Because I've seen so many guys in there getting their hair cut, I figured it must be a good place to go. There wouldn't be that many people if it weren't a good barber shop. So about a month and a half ago, I went for my first haircut in DC. The woman who cut my hair was very polite, although we couldn't communicate very much because it didn't seem like she spoke much English. This was the first thing that worried me, but again, I figured it must be OK if so many guys go there. By the end of that first haircut, it was slightly shorter than I was hoping for, but it wasn't bad, and I was satisfied.

This time not so much. When I sat down, the woman cutting my hair (named Hanh) put the apron around me, a towel around my neck, and then stood in front of me and asked how I wanted my hair cut. As I told her, I felt like she wasn't really paying attention to me.

Yet another thing that I should've picked up on was the fact that all of the chairs in the entire shop face AWAY from the mirrors. The only time you can see yourself in a mirror is at the END of the hair cut. Now, maybe it's just how hair is cut in the South, but usually, you see everything that's going on in the mirror. Not so much here, I suppose.

Hanh was surprisingly rough while cutting my hair. She used some clippers and a comb all around the sides of my head, and while doing so, she ripped individual hairs out of my scalp with every swipe. Then, while using the guard on the clippers, it felt as though she was pushing them into my head with all her might. Ouch.

When I finally saw the result of her abuse of my head, it was as I expected: too short. Way too short. That was when I decided that I'll be looking for a new barber shop next time I need a haircut (which will be a long time from now, thanks to Hanh.) I tried to figure out how to express my disappointment. Should I complain? Should I not tip? After thinking for a few minutes, I decided to reduce her tip from the normal tip I give after a haircut. Maybe she got the message, maybe not. ...Probably not. She probably just thinks I'm cheap.

In any case, this is a good object lesson for how the rest of my life will be. I'll be living in countries where I won't speak the language well and will probably have difficulty communicating with the people who will cut my hair. I guess I need to find a picture of me when I had a good haircut and just bring it with me every time.

Have you ever had an experience like that?

Until next time...peace.



    this was my go-to barber in the DC area. cheap, good (if you like rough-around-the-edges barbers), and nary a wait. $20 out the door, pete is well-versed in international politics/economics, and well, can't complain about westover market being next-door if there IS a wait (can you say wall of beer?).

    my $0.02.


  2. I always try to bring a picture with me to show them what haircut I want. Most of the time I just print out an online photo of a stranger/celebrity as long as they have my hair style. If you don't have time to do it, while you wait, you can flip through the magazines/style books (which they always have plenty of), and find a photo close to what you want.

  3. Haha, oh the number of experiences I've had like that. But speaking from the POV of a Cleveland-er, up North you always face the mirror. I never even face the other direction. Why do they need the mirror, they can see your head for themselves!

    Although I must admit, I had never even heard of the concept of tipping a barber until my freshman year of College.