I popped in for a haircut.
"It will be about a 25 minutes wait" she yelled on top of the machine noise. I put my name down and decided to wait.
We were five of us waiting. Two were doing whatever with their smartphones. One was leafing through the photographs--I wanted to tell her that this was a $9.99 haircut place and, therefore, it was not about styling. Two others sitting next to each other were chatting, but they seemed to be in a relationship. I was watching all of them them and the two women working on the two customers in the two chairs.
I could have gone to the old style barbershop in town. Two old guys take care of the haircuts, and the customers are men. Unlike the stereotypes, the men talk with each other--even the strangers. Rarely does anyone ever pull out a smartphone. But, by the time I get there after my work day, well, those old guys will be long gone.
Waiting at a haircut place has changed even in the old country. Back then, it was always an interesting place. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry. The barber always took his sweet time to get things going. He would pause in between to exchange political comments with some other customer. Or, he would yell at the boy to get him tea or coffee. It was his kingdom and he made sure to exercise power over his subjects.
Not anymore, however. Now, even in the old country everybody is in a hurry. The television is always on and at the loudest possible volume. Customers don't talk--they either watch TV or use their phones.
Finally it was my turn. I knew it would get interesting because my name ain't Sam Murphy ;)
She looked at the sign-up sheet. Her face lifted up.
"I don't know how to say your name" she said with a smile.
I walked up and pronounced my name.
"I want a regular haircut to even things up" I said. It is my usual line these days. I am not one for any comb-over and other such shenanigans. I am bald and am here!
"And when you are done, I want to look handsome. Like George Clooney." That too is my usual line. These lines work always because it seems like it is always a different person every single time I show my head there--except that one time.
She laughed. We barely traded the mundane "how was your day" small-talk when she was all done with me. I suppose I am way balder than I can see in the mirror!
"Ok, you look handsome alright. Don't you go chasing women now" she chuckled.
I laughed. I paid up. I left. I had waited enough.