July 16, 2013

An Introvert's Guide to Haircuts

The next time I get a haircut, I want to wear a sign around my neck that says, "Please Do Not Disturb." This is one of those situations where I'm a captive audience to small talk. I'll always be polite since that's the right thing to do. But I will usually give very short and succinct answers to convince the hair cutter that I don't want to be chatty. Unfortunately, the person who cut my hair last time just didn't get it.

I walked into one of those quickie haircut places that's near my workplace. An employee was sitting at the front desk reading something and immediately checked me in and showed me to her barber's chair. Since I had been there before, she had a little printout from the computer which listed how my hair was cut last time. This is how the conversation started.

HAIR CUT LADY: Do you still want to do a number two [blade] on the sides and a five on top?

ADAM: Yes, please.

HAIR CUT LADY: Wow, it grew back that fast? [The printout showed that I had been  there about a month ago.]

ADAM: Yep.

HAIR CUT LADY: Do you want try a one-and-a-half on the sides instead? That ought to last a little longer.

ADAM: No, let's stick with the two.

HAIR CUT LADY: Are you sure?

ADAM: [Wondering if she gets paid extra to peddle a certain blade.] Yes.

While I didn't really like that she asked about using a different blade twice, I accepted the fact that this line of questioning was germane to the task at hand. But then as she started cutting my hair, she quickly ventured off topic. Lucky me.

HAIR CUT LADY: You got here just in time to rescue me from reading the yellow pages.

I wasn't sure if she was trying to tell me that it was a slow day or if she really was looking in the yellow pages. But who uses the yellow pages anymore? She was probably waiting for me to ask her about it. But I used my good introvert instincts and responded in a non-inquisitive manner.

ADAM: Great.

HAIR CUT LADY: I'm trying to figure out where to go for lunch.


HAIR CUT LADY: I guess I'll just have water instead.

ADAM: Well, there's plenty of that outside. [It was a rainy day. But she didn't laugh at my joke.]

By now I suspected that she had figured out I am not much of a conversationalist. Or so I thought. There were some pleasant moments of silence, but she spoke up again.

HAIR CUT LADY: You're not here on your lunch break, are you?

ADAM: Well, some of it.

I didn't expand upon that point. I'm sure that an extrovert in this situation would gladly have explained in detail what he was doing now and where he would be going later. But not me. Remember, I keep my answers to a minimum. Then she asked the dreaded work question.

HAIR CUT LADY: Do you work nearby?

ADAM: Yes, near [redacted].

I rattled off the name of a major highway intersection without revealing anything specific about where I actually work. It's not that I don't like my job. I just like to get my haircut in peace without too much forced conversation. We had a couple of minutes of silence. But then she asked a situational question.

HAIR CUT LADY: Do you use any mousse or gel?



ADAM: Nope.

A few more minutes passed quietly, but apparantly she was thinking of other ways to entice me to buy something.

HAIR CUT LADY: So you don't even use any mousse or gel when you're going on a date... [awkward pause] with your wife?

ADAM: Nope.

HAIR CUT LADY: Well, it's not like I'm trying to sell you a bottle or anything. [She laughed; I didn't.] 

We had some more peaceful silence. Then the unexpected happened. As she was finishing up with my hair, she reached onto the shelf, grabbed a bottle of goo and put something in my hair.

HAIR CUT LADY: This is just a little [unintelligible] conditioner.

ADAM: [Speechless]

I suppose telling me it was conditioner justifies her using it on me since it isn't mousse or gel. But it would have been nice if she'd asked first. The bottle was Redeken brand, and I could barely see the small print which said something about "distressed hair." I didn't even know my hair was distressed! Anyway, she was just about done when she said:

HAIR CUT LADY: You know, this hairstyle is really good on you.

I was tempted to crack a joke, such as, "I bet you say that to all your customers." But I was mentally drained from the conversation, so I said, nervously:

ADAM: Uhh, thanks.

She finished up, I paid, and I was on my way. Maybe next time instead of wearing a "Please Do Not Disturb" sign, I'll start off by saying:

ADAM: To save you from having to ask, I want my hair cut the same way as last time; yes, it's nice weather we're having; yes, I'm working today; yes, I work around here; no, I don't have any plans for the weekend; yes, I have kids; no, I haven't seen the latest hit movie; no, I didn't go to the Longhorns game yesterday. Now that we got that out of the way, please don't feel obligated to maintain a conversation while you cut my hair.

Don't interpret this the wrong way. I'm not bitter or angry with the hair cut lady. She did a good job and earned a nice tip (without me having to add any numbers in the cents column). And I tried to be cordial too. It's just that I would prefer to sit there in silence. Maybe she can make a note of that in the computer.


  1. I have a feeling your post resonates with lots of us. My reason for not so much talking is that sometimes the stylist, in her (I always imagine a female) chattiness, keeps cutting and takes too much off. I had one male stylist who was so quiet that I asked him why and he said, "I want to concentrate on the haircut." I appreciated it. Margaret

  2. Sounds like she was kinda hitting on you. With hints about lunch, implying she'd just have water and asking if you were on your lunch break; asking about you dating; trying to feel you out.

  3. Uhhh, I think she was trying to get you to ask her out...Lunch hint...asking about wife... free conditioner...complimenting your looks... :)

  4. As a stylist who is also an introvert, the majority of clients think it rather rude and uncomfortable to not have conversations while recieving a service.
    My advice would be to inform your stylist that you would like to just relax without a lot of chit chat and she/ he will understand and hohopefully respect your request.

  5. First thing I always say to a new hairdresser is, 'I hope you don't mind (that's the polite bit - I don't really care if they mind or not ) but I prefer not to talk while I am having my hair cut.' Quite a few of them like the change of not having to make conversation.