Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Behind the chair.
Being back working in USA, I find myself totally enchanted with being surrounded by hair stylists again. The hair stylist culture is pure fun, if not overly dramatic, properly sassified, laced with a deep obsession for what we do, and ample shit talking. I have no problem jumping back in head first(no pun intended).
Working on people's hair is nothing short of one of the deepest levels of human contact. We are changing a person's appearance and that is not to be taken lightly. Not to mention, we do it with very sharp instruments. The only other professions to level this are doctors and tattoo artists. On this short list, barbers and hair stylists are the most fun.
Our days are filled with, when not cutting, staring out the window and completely judging everyone's appearance walking by, fashion sense, clothes, manner of walking or driving, and the like. This alone can be hours of fun, usually limited to only minutes as we are busy folk whom like to stay busy. We flirt endlessly with each other, no matter the sex of the flirter or flirtee, sexual orientation(of course our industry is famous for it's high percentage of gay men), or marital status. The flirting is harmless, always fun, and if ever acted out would probably be kind of sick. We are always talking about each others hair; what is different, what could be different, and what should be different. This leads us to frequently changing our hair, one of the hair stylists leading personal features.
Then, of course, there is the famous shop gossip. Not only do we talk to each other, we talk about each other. I work for a very large company with many shops around town. There is always something new, somebody new, something old making a return(yours truly), and all the drama we would ever need to fuel the gossip fire every chance we get. The large majority of this is done in a positive light, mostly catching up on our friends and coworkers dramas, but every now and then, there is some ugly slung around. "Did you hear about. . .?!?" I love it!
There is the occasional client lust as well. We have all fallen in love with either one of our own clients or the client of another. This love lasts usually 20 to 30 minutes, the length of a hair cut. As soon as one's hot client leaves, a look is shot across the shop at the stylist whom had the pleasure. The look that screams "I love him!", and we carry about our day. We are however, endlessly professional and likely most hot men that come in the shop have no idea we are looking. We have years of skill at checking out clients whilst remaining completely sly, I mean professional. I will say that I absolutely love being at a job where men endlessly walk through the door, paying us to make them even more handsome. It's great.
Our hair stylist talk, or way of talking is perfected. We are masters at phrases like: "Ewwwwww!" or "Yuuuuuck,", "Oh my God. . .", "Did you see what he/she was wearing?!", "Look at his/her hair!(whilst pointing spasticly and cringing)", "What is that smell?!?". The list is endless, we truly have perfected a dramatic flair to practically every single little thing we talk about.
When it comes to technical work for busy bodies, haircutting, hair styling, and barbering suits us to a "T". For those of us to whom hair is the end all be all of existence, we are insane perfectionists, almost to a fault. There is nothing more satisfying to me professionally than obsessing over a tight fade until it is seamless, checking it in the mirror, and obsessing some more. It is amazing sometimes to watch others at work; watch their techniques, ways of standing, moving their bodies, shears, clippers, combs. This is not to say all hair stylists are as into what they do as I am. We have all had or seen horrible haircuts. To this unfortunate happening, I am privy everyday. But then I get to fix them!
We actually have the best job in the world. We leave every day with cash in hand, we get to make the world a better place to look at, and to smell(for the stinky headed clients). We get to feed the unforgiving human desire to gossip, chat and basically communicate. We get to cure dry scalp. We get to laugh a lot, we get to work with all walks of life, coworkers and clients. We get to help people. It is amazing sometimes to see a person's whole demeanor change after they look in the mirror after being pampered for a while and see something they like, a lot. It is downright inspiring. Sometimes the change in demeanor comes from the simple fact that someone is touching them and listening to them while they blab about whatever. Sometimes the change in demeanor is from the fact that they got to just sit and say nothing for a half hour. This is truly a powerful interaction we are having with people every single day, many times a day. Makes up for all the hair splinters, sore backs, cut fingers, hair filled t-shirts, etc, etc.
I am so lucky to have ended up as a barber, I wouldn't change it for the world. I don't have to either, I have the world from barbering. I was made for this stuff.