Carl is the head barber at my barber shop on Al Lipscomb Way in Dallas, Texas. His is the first chair on the right as you enter. There’s almost always at least one person waiting for Carl, sometimes two or three are ahead of me. He is so good that people will wait two, three and more hours for one of his cuts. Carl has cut my hair for over 30 years, and there’s only one problem: He is not a fast cutter.
I get a scissor cut which takes much more time than a clipper cut. Even when I’ve arrived as early as 7:00 a.m — Carl arrives at 8 — someone else usually has beat me there. So, I finally have developed a strategy for waiting the least amount of time before my turn in Carl’s chair. On the appointed day, I arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. Someone is usually already in the chair, but sometimes there’s no one else ahead of me. Every once in a while, I’m his first customer of the day, without getting up at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. That’s pure gold because Carl is fresh and ready to cut hair!
Why have I gone to such great lengths to avoid the waiting? Well, ladies, it’s not like the beauty shop or the “salon.” The barber shop is first-come, first-served. I hardly ever get there first, though goddess knows I try. I think Carl ought to take appointments, but it’s the barber shop, so he doesn’t. I always just hope the guy/s before me aren’t getting a shave and a haircut. Those take forever!
I used to wonder why Carl’s cuts take so long, and finally, after sitting around his barber shop for thirty-plus years waiting my turn, I’ve figured it out. Carl is a nurturer, a caretaker. He takes his own sweet time with each and every customer who sits in his chair. He wants us to feel good as well as look good. When you’re in Carl’s chair, you’re his only client. You may get a neck rub. If you get a shave, you will get multiple hot towels and a facial massage. Carl tweezes ingrown hairs, pops pimples, and trims unruly eyebrows and wiry, wayward ear and nose hairs. All this takes time, the one thing I didn’t think I had.
I used to be extremely impatient (now, I’m just impatient). I wanted all Carl’s attention lavished on me when it was my turn, but not on the guys before me. I wanted him to work on them fast so he could get to me. But that’s not Carl. He’s an equal opportunity nurturer.
I’m ashamed to say that I once boycotted Carl for about two years. That was before I retired. I was just sick of all the waiting. I was mad at Carl for “wasting” so much of my time. So after trying the barbers of two or three friends without success, I ended up at a Supercuts.
SuperCuts is fast, but it’s formulaic, dull, and boring. The cutters never remember how they cut my hair the last time. Even the one time I was assigned an African-American “stylist,” I didn’t get a good cut. As a matter of fact, I never got a really good haircut at Supercuts; and no matter how many times I went, they never remembered my name.
On top of it all, there was no worthwhile conversation at SuperCuts. So, I couldn’t find any better place to get my hair cut than where I began: waiting for Carl. It’s all good though, because Carl knows and remembers my name, and he’s happy to see me when I show up.
And at Carl’s shop, there’s either good music playing or a lively, provocative, or funny conversation and banter, or all of the above. But that’s another post for another day. . . .