I went to get my hair cut today, and the girl that has done it the past few times--Mindy--wasn't there. Katie* was free, so I went with her as I already had waited for my oil change, and my waiting tolerance was dwindling.
I liked Mindy for several reasons: (1) she did a really nice job; (2) she took her time; (3) she didn't insist on talking. I am fine with making a little conversation...but nonstop and incessant chatter just really isn't my style. Katie, however, was a talker. She was young, first of all. I would have put her at 20 or 21, but she later disclosed that she was 18. She asked me how I wanted my hair, commented about 5 times about how thick my hair is, asked me at least 7 times how long it takes me to style it/blow dry it in the morning, and asked me 3 times what product I use in it. While the repetition was a little annoying, these are the questions I expect. I wish she had stopped to breathe and/or hear my answer, but whatever. It's all good.
Once we exhausted the hair cut/how thick/how long does it take to style/what product do you use rotation of questions, we moved on. She's 18, she just graduated from high school, she really doesn't want to be cutting hair in a salon, she more likes to do it just for her friends and like at her house and stuff, but you know, it's okay, and she really wants to go to college in Washington state. She's never been there but she hears that it's pretty, so she thinks it would be cool and stuff, and she wants to be a publisher because English was always her best subject even though she hates to read, but she wants to be a book publisher anyway, isn't that so funny?
No, when somebody is taking scissors to your head, you don't really want to be hearing about how much they don't want to work there and how they really aren't invested in cutting hair, so I was faced with a dilemma. Do I encourage this chick to go to college and pursue her dream of being a publisher-who-hates-reading, or do I try to focus on building up the cosmetology skills (at least while she's hacking at my hair)? I tried to balance the two. It sounded something like this:
Katie: I just really think Washington state would be a fun place to go for college because, like, I've never been there and stuff and I think, like, it would be really interesting and...ya know? I hear it's really pretty, and I really want to be a publisher for books -- NOT magazines, I do NOT see myself as a magazine publisher -- and I hear Washington has really good schools for being a publisher.
Me: Oh really? That's interesting. I bet Washington is beautiful. How long have you worked here?
Katie: Not long. I still don't know how to work the cash registers, haha, it's funny, I have to ask for help all the time. I mostly like to cut my friends hair in my house and stuff because, you know, people appreciate that sort of thing, even though I don't let them take advantage of me like some people around here do. But I don't want to stay here for long. I just want to be a publisher, I don't know why.
Me: It's wonderful that you have so many goals. And cutting hair can help you pay for things along the way, I'm sure! It's great that you will always have that skill.
Katie: Yeah, but when I move to Washington to be a publisher, I really want to live in apartment. I just don't picture myself doing this, you know? It's fine for some people, but...I just really think being a publisher would be nice.
When we ran out of publisher talk, Washington state wishing, and why she thinks she'll have her own apartment and not worry about getting roommates, she STILL didn't come up for air.
K: So what about you? What do you do? Where do you work? Are you in college?
Me: No, I graduated about a year ago from graduate school. I work with children with developmental disabilities.
Rule #1: You do not...under ANY circumstances...tell people in a situation like this that you're a psychologist. Getting a hair cut is not a billable hour, and I do my best not to make it one. We were already toeing the line.
K: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, that's so cute! That's so nice of you. You must be a really good person. I think that's a really nice thing to do. Kind of like being a publisher. Except you, like, help people and stuff. Do you like it?
Me: I do. It's a very rewarding job.
K: Awwwwwww, that's so sweet. I bet it's like really nice and rewarding to like help people like that.
**Here, there was a two second silence in which neither of us knew what to say. Never fear! Katie knew just what to do.**
K: If you didn't do that, what would you do instead?
Me: Hmmm...that's a tricky question. This is really what I've wanted to do since I was a kid.
K: Awwwwww, that's really cute.
K: So, like, if you weren't doing this, what else would you do?
I think we just
talked about this. Well...given
that I really just graduated and started my career, I can't really imagine
doing anything else. Which, you know, is
probably a good thing with all the money I owe in student loans.
I laughed, half-heartedly.
K: Awwww, that's funny. So...what else would you want to do?
Is your name Dory? Have you met Nemo? I guess I would want to be a writer.
K: That's like me! You know, I want to be a publisher.
Hey look! A castle!***
And so it went. Around...and around...and around...and when we ran out, we talked about how thick my hair is, and what sort of product I use in it, and how long it takes me to blow dry it and style it in the morning, and then talked about how it's okay that I don't have a boyfriend or children because I'm still young, and how it's okay that she doesn't have a boyfriend or children because she's still young, and we talked about the fact that she wants to be a ...yep, you guessed it...a publisher.
I don't know if I like the hair cut yet, but it hardly matters. It's hair, and my hair grows so fast I probably won't even look like I got a hair cut by Monday morning. I tipped Katie generously, just because. Mostly because she's young and has no clue what she's doing, and is looking for answers between strands of strangers' hair she hates cutting.
But next time...I'm waiting for Mindy.
*Name has been changed, primarily because I forget her actual name...but also for privacy and whatnot
***If you have not seen "Finding Nemo," this will seem odd. I apologize.