Getting a haircut is slightly better than going to the dentist in my mind. I don’t like going no matter how shaggy I get and put it off for as long as possible. It’s not the act of the haircut I don’t like, but the pointless conversations I feel forced to have with the stylist. Take all these apprehensions and add the fact that I don’t speak the language and you can imagine my lack of anticipation to get a haircut in Thailand.
It was the best haircut of my life.
I wouldn’t say it’s the best looking, but it was the best experience.
My haircuts in the states rarely revolve around the length of my hair, but rather when the Great Clips or Fantastic Sam’s coupons arrive in the mail. It’s not the haircut I don’t like paying $15 for, but the service I normally get from the stylist. Most of the time I appreciate a silent haircut. If the stylist had something more interesting to talk about than her kids, dogs, the weather or the latest Danielle Steele novel, then it might be worth the cost.
It’s not always what they say, but their fake interest in my job. The session almost always starts with the question, “You don’t have to work today?” to which I reply that I don’t and then they ask where I work. The last place I worked, Hutchinson Technology, is even boring to type let alone try to stir up anything interesting to say about it.
I actually had a great haircut experience a couple of times during training when fellow volunteer and friend Laura did a fine job – with my hair and the conversation. I never thought I’d talk about Leo Tolstoy novels with the person cutting my hair. Thanks, Laura.
I sat on the steps of the 7-Eleven across the street from the barber while the crowded traffic inched by the street in Sangka. I made my way to a bench by the chair and after waiting a few minutes for a kid to get done, I was invited into the chair. I jokingly asked the barber if he cut foreigners’ hair and he smiled.
Now, pre-service training did not cover haircut vocabulary, but I thought I could handle this situation. I pointed at my head and said, “Muan gone (same thing)”, and then pointed to his clippers and said, “Sii (No. 4)”. He seemed to understand and got to work.
Through my broken Thai, I found out he was 32-years old and was having a good day despite the confrontations with Cambodia, which were on his TV.
It was when the haircut was done when things got interesting. Instead of trimming my neck and behind my ears with the clippers, he used shaving cream and a straight razor. Then he propped my chair back and started putting shaving cream on my face. It had been two days since I shaved, so I figured, why not?
I’ve always wanted a shave from a barber with a straight razor and to my surprise, I got one. After the very-close shave, he even gave me an upper-body massage for a minute or so.
All of this for 50 baht (about $1.67) and I didn’t even have to talk about my job – although, for the first time in a while, it’s actually interesting.