Shut Up And Cut

A blogger I like just published a post called Work Like You’re Driving.

Work like you’re driving.

Single-tasking. A single task at a time. As if what you’re doing is vitally important. Critically important. Which tasks are critically important? Heart surgery = single task. Brain surgery = single task. Landing an airplane = single task. Delivering a baby = single task. A haircut? This really ought to be a single task as well.

You laugh but I wish I could send my friend’s article to my hairstylist anonymously. I want to re-title it Cut Like It’s Surgery. Because he has butchered my hair for the third time because he cannot focus on the haircut while he’s talking. And this sucks because he is VERY good at hair. His technique is superb. But when he gets to yakking away about something he cuts my hair mindlessly. And endlessly. He will not stop cutting. He shifts into explaining something or telling a story and his attention gets diverted to what he’s saying while his hands just keep cutting and cutting and cutting until it’s too late.


The first haircut was way too short. I figured I didn’t communicate well. New relationships take time to build. I grew it out and gave him a second chance.

Remember the second cut? That was a hell of a post.  Here’s the link. It was December. Butchered again. Am I still not communicating well? Sitting too far away from the mirror without glasses … but still, it’s not my job to tell him when to stop. It’s his job to know. We agreed in advance. Well, everyone makes mistakes. I grew it out for three months and tried again. And I use the term grew it out loosely. My hair was cut so close to the scalp it took until the middle of March before I needed just the neck and ears trimmed. So I went back to the head butcher to give him a third chance.

Yes, I said third chance.

The third cut is nearly as bad as the second. And this time I made sure to communicate clearly. I said I really like this length. NOTHING OFF THE TOP OR SIDES. Just trim the edges; bangs, over the ears, and my neckline, that’s it. Shaping, that’s all. He understood me. I know he did. He repeated my instructions back to me.

Then he did what I asked but did not stop. Because he got engrossed in talking about something else. In the throes of dialogue he grabbed a handful of top hair and cut it without thinking. When I realized he was cutting hair I told him not to cut I tried to stop him. But he’d made such quick and deliberate cuts I had no choice but to let him even it out. But then he did it again. The problem wasn’t lack of communication. It’s that he should not multi-task, and by that I mean chat while cutting. If he’s chatting he cuts without thinking, without intention, without attention, so he doesn’t stop until there’s nothing left to cut.

I shut down. I stopped responding. I stopped participating in the conversation so it would stall and he’d stop cutting mindlessly. I sat in silence, glowering at my ever-balding reflection. But by this time the damage was done. And I look like a monk again. You can’t even call this a pixie. It’s this:

Not my idea of a trim.

I was not happy. I told him so. I told him we agreed he would not cut anything but the edges. Just trim the edges; we both said it aloud. He acknowledged he’d cut more than I wanted. He then tried to bright-side me. He said I might be upset now but in two weeks it was probably going to be perfect. Not when it took three months to grow what he cut away. And I hate this because I really like him. But he just can’t focus on the cut while he’s talking. And he’s a Talker. If conversation was an Olympic event, he’d medal every time. But he can’t do both at the same time without his hands switching to auto-pilot. Instead of stepping away from my head to talk, his hands just keep cutting.

I’m trying now to remember what we even discussed. Neighbors. Tennis. His business. Immigration. Taxes. A friend we have in common. None of that was more important than not scalping me. But truthfully, the fault is mine. I wanted a third chance to pay off bad enough to risk it and these are my consequences.

Never has the case for mindfulness been made to me so vibrantly. I’m nearly bald again because my stylist can’t or won’t single-task. We’ve all endured so much preaching about mindfulness that I’m not sure we can absorb it anymore. We’ve overworked the topic until we tune it out even as we nod in agreement. Consider me freshly engaged with the topic of mindfulness.

Yes, of course I’ve decided not to go back. I don’t know what else I’ll do but I’ve three months to figure it out. Three mindful months. Three mindful months to think about what I’ve done. Three mindful months to consider if I’ll ever try again (with someone else, of course). Or just three mindful months to get over it, because after all, it’s only hair. Three mindful months to realign with what I wrote about hair and image and presentation after the second butchering (link provided above). Three mindful months to re-embrace mindfulness. Here’s a fun way to start.

— Mercy

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