Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I don't know if I've been over this, but if there is one thing that strikes fear into my heart that thing is spiders. If there are two things, it is spiders and clowns.
Three things would be spiders, clowns and either clowns covered in spiders or getting a haircut.
Yesterday, I faced exactly one of those fears, though it was the only one on the list that doesn't include either skittering or greasepaint.
I've had the fear of haircuts for as long as I can remember, though I suspect it has its roots in the little barbershop in the small west Texas town where I grew up. Tonsurophobia is (I believe) a natural reaction to early memories of a rural barbershop with a crowd of almost indecipherable drawling retirees, decorative barbed wire hung on wood-burned plaques along the wall, pre-war clippers which ground against themselves with a painful clacking noise and a barber chair with a loose spring in the center that seems to have only been triggered to pop by the weight of a small child.
In college, I cowered behind hair almost down to my waist. Since graduation, however, a condition of continued employment seems to be facing up to my fears.
I stepped out yesterday after a few cups of coffee to steel my nerves and drove to one of those chains. I bravely signed the sheet (at 10am there wasn't much of a line) and took my place in the little chairs to watch something about (I think) auto racing on the TV in the customer area.
When my poorly-pronounced name was called, I confidently strode to the indicated chair, sat down and said the phrase I always say and, in fact, the only words I'm ever able to say for about 15 minutes around the panic.
"I usually go with a #3 on the sides and back, the top should be a little longer, like a natural progression from the short, but if it gets too short I have this horrible cow lick so it needs to be at least 4 inches back there."
The stylist smiled at me.
"Eeees too long, jes?"
My eyes began to water, "Yes. My hair is too long."
I slipped into a fear-powered state of semi-consciousness. To the credit of the stylist, when she took off the weird paper collar (trying to kill me can't breathe in that thing why won't they just let hair fall down my shirt is that so bad?) and forced me to look in the mirror my hair looked okay.
I stumbled towards the register and handed her my bank card.
I've carried this card for (admittedly) too long. I can tell, because it only actually swipes in about three machines. There is a hole worn in the magnetic stripe about the size of a pencil eraser.
I need a new one. I do not want a new one.
She tried a couple of times unsuccessfully and asked if I had another card.
I told her that was my bank card and I'd rather just use it.
She looked at the card, pointed out a hole in the stripe the size of a pencil eraser (who knew?) and began to enter the numbers manually.
"Eeees declined," she announced.
"Can I see that?" I asked.
She pointed at the "DECLINED" message at the bottom.
I pointed at the "Amount" field, which listed the price of the haircut at $461,000 (before tip).
She had entered my card number in the amount field.
"Declined," she again pointed to the line at the bottom.
"Yeah," I tried to explain, "but the amount is listed at $461,000."
She looked at me blankly.
"I don't usually keep that much in checking."
She called over another person and in a few minutes I was on my way, but none of this has managed to make me feel any better about having my haircut.


Andrew Moore said...

I thought you were looking a bit shaggy in the last blog posting.

Garrick said...

I look 30% less like a filthy hippie now.