One of my favorite places in the world is the barber shop. While that wasn’t always the case during my long haired mid teen years, as a little kid I loved my barber. Bill was a great guy. He had Barbershop Near Me enough sense around the time I turned 10 to listen to what I asked for in the way of a haircut, and what my mother told him to do. And for the most part both of us were happy with the results, although my mother had some abnormal obsession in me not having any bangs, but that is beside the point. It also didn’t hurt that he had one of those old fashioned coke machines and I got a dime to get a bottle of soda after my hair cut was done. Of course this was in the days when the family-run gas station still ruled the countryside. And quickie marts and corporate monolith gas and grocery marts hadn’t moved too far from the cities.

Over time, my childhood barber cut back his hours. He had had a long and successful career and it was a one chair kind of shop in a small South Western Pennsylvania town. Eventually, I went away to school and by the time I came back he had retired completely. I had to go to find someone else to cut my hair.

Since I had a few extra bucks in my pocket, I tried some of the fancy salons. Sure they had these wonderful couches, candles, and all these other luxurious services. All of which were nice, all of which were adding income and margin to their businesses but it wasn’t why I showed up there in the first place. Not unlike a lot of customers in the world, I knew what I wanted. I’d listen to new ideas but at the end of the day I had a darn good idea of what my problem was. In this case my hair was getting long and shaggy and I have about three wicked cowlicks on the front of my head alone. Because of that, I’m the type of guy who knows how he wants his hair cut. I’m not looking for a new style and color. I don’t care if I’m trendy or cool. I knew what I wanted, tried to communicate it clearly and it never once translated in to a repeatable output. They’d be too worried about the art of their profession. It wasn’t like I got a bad haircut; I just didn’t get what I wanted. After a few years at places like this I went the chain haircut strip mall route.

There are chain hair cutting places all over. They cost a lot less than the fancy salons. Instead of overstuffed couches, there are plastic chairs in the waiting area. The list of additional services was limited, but then again all I wanted was a good haircut done my way. Sadly, despite being easy to find, plentiful and well priced, the quality of their work was hit or miss. As a customer, not knowing what outcome to expect is simply frustrating and it doesn’t make for good customer service. I could never get the same person twice in a row. There was no consistency. The poor kids cutting hair there were new. New isn’t exactly bad. But while they had a license to hang on the wall, most had just finished school in the past few years. There’s nothing wrong with being new, we all have been at one point or another. Like a lot of people who have just finished school, they had the basic idea of what to do but they were missing the experience of how to refine things. There was not a mentor there to help them along the way. No one truly skilled, that could offer insight and an experienced perspective.