I am having barbershop issues again.
Over the past few months, my barber Stan has begun to show signs of slippage. He's about 56 years old, which is unfair to mention, because his slightly advance age was never an issue the past seven years I've been going to him. But it definitely seems to be working against him right now. He pushes my hairline back too far sometimes, and other times, he doesn't keep my beard as full as I'd like, which leaves with me with a bullshit Taye Diggs-in-the-movie-Brown-Sugar beard instead of the Issac Hayes beard my face has come to know and love. It had gotten to the point where I had to antagonize him before my haircut and give him specific instructions, then I had to follow that up with mid-haircut instructions to reinforce my preferences. Most barbers hate that and Stan is no exception, but I have no desire to walk around with a jacked up haircut for two or more weeks, so I do what I must.
The only reason I didn't ditch Stan months ago is that my young son Nyles loves "Mr. Stan", who is the only barber he's ever known. Stan jokes around with him, gives him a lollipop after every cut, and they end their transaction with a firm, intricate handshake. I must admit it is rather cute to watch, and I'm about maintaining a certain routine--but not at the expense of my hair and beard game.
There is another barbershop that is right on my way to work, and once things started deteriorating with Stan, I made it my business to try this new shop to see how I liked it. The first time I went to one barber and just played it safe with a shape up. The second time, I went to a different barber and entrusted him with my pre-going-to-Miami haircut and he nailed it. The new barbershop was a nice mix of young and old, and there are 8 barbers who work in there. The downside is that I always have to wait at least 30 minutes, which I never had to do at my old shop. I"m not a patient man who needs and loves to soak up the barbershop atmosphere. I like to get in and out--especially when Nyles is with me. Some of the barbers have told me to make an appointment, which I may try again. The last time I tried all of the barbers I liked were booked up for 2-3 days. Still, this shop has potential.
When I came back from Miami at the end of August, I decided to give Stan one more chance at redemption. Nyles and I got up at 8am on a Sunday morning like we usually do, and by chance, we saw Stan riding his bike about five minutes away from the shop. Stan explained that he had gotten fired from the shop, and he had relocated to another shop which was five minutes away. We agreed to meet him at the shop at 9am, even though it meant we had to kill an hour's worth of time.
**Sidebar** My barber's I-got-fired story goes like this...Apparently, one of his main customers came up short when it came time to pay the bill, and Stan said it was ok and let him go. Normally what Stan does in that situation is 1)Use his own money so the cash drawer didn't come up short at the end of the night and 2) Tell the manager, so he was aware. Well on this particular day, Stan didn't replenish the drawer or tell the manager, and he was accused of stealing. He was put on probation for a week, then he was fired. Something tells me there is more to the story, but when someone is in charge of cutting your hair with clippers and your beard with a straight razor, you don't make them uncomfortable in any shape, form or fashion***sidebar off***
Nyles and I set foot in the Stan's new shop, and immediately I was crestfallen. The shop is in a less desirable part of town and inside it looked rundown and smelled like a pack rat's closet. The barber chairs were clean, as were the razors, blades and clippers but everything else in the shop looked suspect. Nyles, who has neither tact nor couth, said, "Daddy it's dirty in here", and just asked him to sit his ass down in a spot I carefully chose for him. To make matters worse, it was 9 in the damn morning, but the owner of the barbershop felt the need to blast some profane rap music (I think it was Future). I asked Stan if he could ask the owner to turn it down, and the owner did so very begrudingly which pissed me off. Luckily for me, Nyles wasn't paying any attention to the words, but the last thing I needed was for him to bring home a curse word or two for my wife to hear. No one wins there. I left the barbershop, I watched he and Nyles do their normal strong handshake ritual, and then I told Stan I'd be back next week. I haven't been back since.
But yesterday, I tried to do an afterschool pop-in with Nyles at the new barbershop, and there was at least a 45 minutes wait, which was not going to work. I went back at 9am this morning when they opened, and there were 4 barbers working, but they were all accepting their appointment customers. I asked when the non-appointment barbers would be in and they said by 9:30, but by 10, they hadn't showed. I left out. Clearly, I will have to make appointment, which is difficult to do with a 4-year old. For now, we will be going back to Stan on Sunday morning..I think.
I resent my old barber for first slipping at his craft, and then getting himself fired, which has put me into some sort of weird limbo. I resent my new barbershop for placing emphasis on appointments, rather than the old-fashioned walk-in, which is how new clients are built. I wish I could find a good barber, who could just come to my house every Sunday morning, cut my hair and then roll out. That would be ideal.