I'm not someone who needs a huge amount of personal space. I can recall occasions when there has been a particularly lack of it, and I've quite enjoyed myself. I'm perfectly on board with a friendly nudge on the arm every once in a while, too.
But whenever I visit my hairdresser he smacks me in the face.
I had speculated that it was an attempt to remove loose hair. That was until today, when I'd barely finished tucking in my gown and he was trying to knock me unconscious. (As soon as he commented on my new beard I knew only too well where it was going...)
In all seriousness, it doesn't really hurt. There are no traces of blood or bruising (he's so smart). It's more peculiar than it is painful. Still, I receive a flutter of back-handed slaps multiple times throughout a haircut, and I'm completely oblivious to its reasoning.
Maybe my hairdresser ('Petey', from now on) has some kind of Napoleon complex? He is a small man. Not a dwarf, if that's where your mind had wandered. Just a Northerner.
But it doesn't quite fit his M.O. He's not overcompensating, he's not an exaggerator, never trying to prove himself or his achievements. He's quiet, really.
The actual haircut itself is never anything to blog about either (really brought an out-dated term into the modern era, there). Nor is it particularly cheap, at least not while physical abuse is included as standard.
So why do I return?
Because I am completely mesmerised by the guy.
What would he want to do if not hairdressing? Exactly. Making thatched roofs.
What did he do previous? Right once again. Street racing (bicycles, apparently).
There's something addictive about his approach to hairdressing; his professionalism is so engaging throughout every aspect of his service, whether it's the handshake when I greet him, the way he takes my coat from my shoulders, or the diagram he draws of my hair to illustrate his intentions.
His minimalist use of tools impresses me also. With only a comb, a clip and a pair of scissors (usually they have at least some electrical
equipment and the zigzag clippers, right?) he reshapes my messy locks, and almost to my satisfaction.
Those who abandon modern technology in favour of the old-fashioned approach have always impressed me, ever since I watched Rocky IV. In the training montage, Drago has all the bad-ass equipment, the treadmills and the weight-machines and the punching bags (those clichés will give you an idea of how much time I've spent in a gym myself.)
Then there's Robert Balboa. (His actual name is Robert Balboa? That is absolutely ridiculous.) He doesn't need all the mod cons, just give him a steep hill and some bits of timber - he's a World Champion in the making. (You must check out this Rocky scene because it is breathtaking, but I think the foley artist was having a bit of an off-day. I've never heard a sack of boulders fall on a wooden floor, still, wouldn't have thought it sounded like a hand grenade...)
Petey isn't just a professional though, he's thoughtful. Today he offered me a job. No joke. I'm currently out of work and he reckons he could help me get into the hairdressing game. I had not the slightest interest in the profession when I arrived this morning but I've been seriously considering it since I left (if only to discover why he physically attacks a paying customer). Obviously, I do fear he is trying to groom me, he seems to have taken quite a serious interest. But hey, if it's mutual?
After cutting my hair he gave me a discounted rate on account of it being "just a trim" and, as always, refused to accept a tip. You've
got to love his ethos. He decides a
reasonable price for a service and I'll keep coming back for more,
whether I'm being maimed or not.
I'd been telling him about my relationship/employment woes of late, and he walked outside and gave me a pep talk before I left. "Follow your heart". "Chin up". If my old hairdresser tried that, I'd ask him first to stop offering me "cheap Bulgarian wine - £3 a bottle", just so I could entertain the notion that he has his own life completely in perspective.
All of this makes me think about something else Petey said last year. To enjoy your work you must be good at it, or at least believe you are, otherwise you will be left unsatisfied. I'll write about this more sometime, but it certainly rings true for me.
If I want to be happy, I'm going to have to believe I'm good at what I do, and providing something to the best of my ability. This means taking pride in my own work, and it's something I've never been comfortable with.
Right now, I want to be good at writing. And someday I want to charge for it. In the meantime, I'll take Petey's approach, a fair price for an adequate service.
Thanks for reading, that will be 'sod all', please. Come again.