It’s Haircut Day
I went for a haircut today. When I woke up this morning, my hair looked like a dried mop that had seen better days. It wouldn’t succumb to the power of my comb’s persuasion anymore. My former barber used to tell me that I’d know it was time to pay him a visit when I couldn’t manage my hair the way I wanted to. Unfortunately, we’d lost contact since I left the Philippines. For all I know, he must be dead by now. But no problem about that, as I always find another barber willing to take his place.
My current barber is Vietnamese. He was one of the boat people who took refuge in the Philippines for a few years before resettling in the U.S. He’s very hard working. He rarely goes on vacation. If he does, he says, he’s going to lose customers.
He keeps his mouth shut when he cuts my hair. It must be his way of concentrating on the task at hand. He knows i’ll sue him if he accidentally cuts my ear. But it must also be his cue that I have the floor. While doing his thing, I can talk freely whatever I want to talk about.
There’s nothing that I hate more than being confronted with echoes of silence. If nobody’s doing the talking, I’ve got to talk and talk I do.
I’ll break the ice by commenting about the weather. It will be followed by expert commentaries on the local sports teams and their performance or lack thereof. Eventually, it becomes personal. It leads to divulging personal secrets that are hidden even to family and close friends. Sometimes, I marvel at the ease with which my barber can extract information from somebody without subjecting him to torture. The intelligence community should hire more of his kind.
As usual, I gave him a big tip. It shouldn’t be construed as buying his silence, of course, although some of the things that I’ve said were meant to be private. When i handed him the money, I think he understood that it was for a job well done and nothing more. He smiled and thanked me for my generosity.