The same woman has cut my hair for the last 21 years, since I arrived in Oregon and found her tiny shop and her brisk and friendly self, and we get to talking yesterday, as she edits my head in her usual brisk and friendly fashion, and she tells me about her craft. Well, men tip more than women, although women spend much more money than men, she says. In general a man wants you to cut his hair as quickly and efficiently as possible, ideally without overmuch chat, for which service he will tip generously, whereas women want me to spend a lot of time with them, and talk about everything, or more accurately listen to them talk about everything, for which privilege they generally will not tip generously, but they will buy all sorts of products, which the men never do. The women generally want me to be their friend, whereas the men want me to cut their hair. The more hair a man has the less time he wants you to spend on it, generally. Yes, we occasionally sell the hair we cut. If it’s longer than eight inches, and it is its original color, and it’s male hair, it’s eligible for wigs—men’s hair is thicker, and they don’t color it as much as women do. Occasionally we have had people come in and buy cut hair to put in their gardens to fend off deer and moles. No, I don’t know if that works or not. Yes, I cut my children’s hair and my husband’s and mine, too. That’s how I started as a cutter of hair. I was a teenager and my parents wanted us to have long hair and there came a day I didn’t want to so I cut it myself. Yes, that caused a ruckus. But it turned out I was good at it and rather liked it.
When I came to this country I went to beauty school and then went into business. First I rented a chair in a shop and eventually I bought the shop. In the time I owned the shop I employed probably a hundred cutters of hair from probably 20 countries. Do I ever get tired of cutting hair? Not really. I get tired, after a very busy day, but it’s a friendly job, and very rarely do you encounter someone really rude. People fall asleep while I am cutting their hair, yes. Almost always men. There’s something peaceful about the experience, I think. It’s quiet, and the shop is warm, and there’s something soothing about sitting still and being covered with a cloth and not having to actually do anything or think or even speak. Also I think something about getting a haircut reminds people of when they were children. Unless I slice your ear or something, it’s a peaceful gentle few minutes, or should be. Plus then when you arise you are slightly different, and people like that. Men will often say they feel taller, which I think they like, feeling taller. There are some men who come in slightly too often for haircuts and I wonder if they come because they want to feel taller that day.
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