Why I don’t pay for haircuts anymore


There was an ad years ago that went something like this:  Getting a bad haircut is like being forced to wear a dress you hate every day for the next 6 months.  Once, I was forced to wear a haircut I didn’t want, not for months, but for YEARS.

So you see, Austin.  Your topic today for your Modern Philosophers column is one that is on my long list of pet peeves.  Barber vs. stylist vs. “just do what I ask!  I’m not paying you to do what you want!”  


Do you think I need a haircut? Am I starting to look more Shaggy than Fred? If you passed me on the street, would you mumble, “Get a haircut, hippie!” under your breath?   As long as hair isn’t decorated with grease or lice, how a person wears it doesn’t matter–except if I’m in a movie theater and it stands up a foot off the top of his/her head.

How often do you get your hair cut? Do you stick to a regular schedule? Do you just go when you think about it? When do you know it’s just time?   What’s left of my hair stops at my waist. If I need it trimmed, I ask my husband to do it.   You may wonder why.   I ask my husband to cut it 1/2 inch and that’s exactly what he does. He has a good eye for “level” and that’s all I care about when it comes to a hair cut.

Why is it that we fight for pay equality in the workplace, but no one seems to mind that women’s haircuts cost way more than men’s? Why are women’s haircuts so much more expensive? Is it because women actually care about style, while men just grunt and could care less what gets done to their hair? Should men care more? Should women care less?   I stopped going to a stylist/beautician years ago when Afro’s went out of style and I no longer felt the need to ruin perfectly good hair with permanents. The cut-the-grass was when I went to a “stylist” who charged me $110 and left my hair a mess. That’s when $110 would load your car with groceries.  I was charged that much for the little “extras” he didn’t tell me he was doing to my hair (like “styling”, conditioner, etc.).

 And then there was the time I asked to have an inch cut off.  I showed exactly how much using my fingers.   The “Scrunch” of hair being cut straight across was a huge shock and 10 inches of hair was on the ground!  Hair that had been past my waist was cut to shoulder length in seconds.

Do you have a regular barber? Am I ridiculous in calling my guy a barber? What’s the difference between a barber and a hairstylist? Is it the barber pole? Who else thinks those are awesome? Don’t you want a barber pole for your house? Do you ever wonder if some barber students put themselves through barber college by flashing a little skin and dancing on that barber pole? Do you think a barber pole dancer makes way better tips than an actual barber?  I never liked barber poles once I was told that barbers used to be dentists who didn’t use anesthetic, too.  The only people who came close to cutting my hair the way I asked it to be cut were barbers. There were 2 women barbers and later a man. Their price was between $8 – 10. No music, and nothing fancy about the place. Just a decent haircut.

If you have a regular barber/stylist, do you call that person by his or her name? Or are you like me in that you just give your hair expert a nickname? Do you have a Fat Dave like I do? Do you think your hair engineer would like or hate the nickname you have assigned to him or her?  Yes.  I call him honey or asshole–according to whether or not I’m mad at him.

Have you ever tried to get your barber to join you in a barbershop duet? What song would you like to harmonize if you could get that duet going? What would be the name of your group? Would you have straw hats and colorful vests?  No.  When we sing, the dogs start howling.

How are you with small talk during a haircut? Do you feel like you have to force it because Fat Dave only asks about the weather, traffic, and the price of gas? Are you like me in that you’re willing to chat it up if you’re the only customer in the place, but then clam up if anyone else is around? What is that about?   No.  After the mow, hoe and go approach to the haircut, I go back to what I was doing.

Does your hair place spring for good magazine? What’s the music like? Is it the sort of place that gives you a shampoo, or are you expected to show up with clean hair? Why do they wash your hair before they cut it in some places? Are they saying they don’t trust the cleanliness of your hair? Are they implying that you don’t know how to properly shampoo your hair after all these years? What’s the deal?  I would rather have a good haircut at a cheap price (or–in my case–free) than pay for ambiance.  I don’t want to have additional costs (like washing my hair) for something I can do at home using a water temperature I like.

Do you ever vary your tip based on the experience, or do you just give the same amount ever time? Did your Fat Dave piss you off by jacking up prices 20% on January 1? If so, have you purposely been putting off getting your next haircut to protest the new prices? Is that why I look so damn shaggy?  In summary, I was tired of being charged 3 times as much to have some woman cut off 10 inches when I told her 1/2 inch, only to be told that if she hadn’t cut off that much I would still have split ends.  Did I complain about split ends.  No!  However, I doubt anyone in the place appreciated the my tirade after losing 2 years of hair growth in seconds.

   If I go to a butcher shop and ask for extra lean hamburger, I’m not going to put up with being given hamburger with 50% fat and charged the same price just because “Lady, you need to get some meat on your bones.”  Why should I put up with someone butchering my hair who doesn’t listen to what I say and, instead, does what s/he wants anyway and then charges me a fortune for it?