Friday, August 20, 2010

Hair Today

Here's something weird.

I have to go get a haircut this afternoon. I go to a barbershop a couple blocks from home. The first time I went there I got my hair cut by a woman who did an OK job. Just OK. Now, I don't have much hair, so OK isn't really good enough. But now, every time I go there she insists to the other barbers that she alone is my barber. I'd really like one of the others to have a go but don't have the gumption to say so. Without a doubt, today, I will get an 'OK' hair cut.

Yet I'm the guy who writes politicians and 'letters to the editor' and makes phone calls to assert my point of view. To me that's much easier than saying, 'I'd rather someone else cut my hair.' I don't know why that is ... I can't even imagine saying that to her. I don't want to hurt her feelings even though I don't like her work. Like I'm sure she spends any time worried about me at all!

Assertion is a funny, funny, thing. For me it's easier to assert myself over an issue or a point of view than it is for something personal. It's easier to protest over the treatment of someone else than it is about the treatment I get. In fact some of those on the 'other side of the issue' might find me a bit of a bulldog when it comes to sparring over an issue. I admit, it's true, I can be pretty passionate about what I believe - I just can't do it with a barber! I'm sure some of you readers are the same way.

So barring going to another barber shop entirely - which is hard because I go where I go because it's the only accessible shop that doesn't charge me an outrageous fee, I'm getting the same cut from the same barber. Some of the places near me charge 30 bucks for a hair cut - that's, like, 25 cents a hair. I tried negotiating at one place and the fellow looked down at me, which happens a lot when you are in a wheelchair - both literally and figuratively, and said, 'We do quality work.' Well, yeah but cutting an acre lawn is surely more expensive than trimming a postage stamp yard.

Oh well, today is hair cutting day.

And if nothing else, I got a blog out of it.


rickismom said...

I think that it is soley due to not wanting to hurt feelings. I know how hard it was (and is) for me to be assertive when I know that the result is that the feelings of a well-intentioned person will be hurt.
In every case one needs to balance the two sides and evaluate if the issue is important enough to override the "feelings" issue. NEVER easy.

Kristin said...

I agree with rickismom. And, good luck with the haircut.

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

I am the same way about self assertion: I'm absolutely tenacious when it comes to an issue, but resist hurting people's feelings when it comes to one-to-one interactions.

One strategy I use is to put the burden on myself when making a request that might result in hurt feelings. So, if I want a new hair cutter, I might say, "You know, I need a little variety, and I'd like to see what someone else does with my hair." That way, it's about me and my eccentricity, and hopefully, the other person doesn't feel criticized. Of course, then I'm potentially stuck with letting everyone in the place have a go at my hair, even if I'd rather they didn't! But at least it gets me out of the rut I'm in.

Liz Miller said...

You could find out what days she has off and go in then.

L. said...

I think it is quite normal to feel nervous about asking for a different barber or stylist. The barber/stylist is this weird relationship not entirely like other business relationships. And, yes, one worries about hurting others' feelings ... even if that other is not giving you a great haircut and you really really want to switch.

That said, you should switch. I will say that I have "picky hair" (it's very fine) and I have found, through trial and error, that it's really worth it to pay more for a better haircut, even though I wince every time I write out a check. But, if you want to keep on going where you're going, I like both Rachel's and Liz's suggestion.

If it's anything like a hair salon, you can also make an appointment beforehand and, hopefully, speak with someone else to make an appointment with a different barber. You could even discreetly ask about the different barbers' schedules at the same time.

Belinda said...

L. wrote:

I agree! There is some kind of intimacy in someone doing your hair that makes you vulnerable. I have wimped out when I hated my hair and the stylist was raving about how beautiful it was--and couldn't wait to wash it the moment I got home, just to look like I like to look! And I paid for the privilege.:)

Word Geek said...

Personally, I have always had real trouble with asserting myself at the hairdressers, and as a result have paid good money for some...interesting creations without a murmur.
Maybe it's because they always have so many sharp implements to hand...

kvanryzin said...

I feel a need for a new stylist myself but haven't made a move because it is like saying her art is no good. She tries hard to do her best with my hair. I would have no problem moving on if she stood there bored or disinterested in me or my hair. But, it is like saying to someone "you did your best but it wasn't good enough for me". That hurts.

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