Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Wal-Mart Haircut

In my relatively short time one earth, I have spent a lot of money on my hair. Initially, I did this believing there was a direct correlation between the amount of money spent at a salon and the quality hair style you received. This, however, is misnomer. Over time, I learned that you can get just as crappy results for half the cost, so why waste all of that extra money for the same end product?

And so, I went to the Super Wal-Mart in town (the store that is like a small city) and had my hair trimmed.

They only take walk-ins, and the going rate for a hair cut (with shampoo) was $12.95. "Why not?" I thought. I was overdue for a trim and I wanted it done cheaply.

Prior to my visit to Wal-Mart, I had been going to a mid-level salon in "the big city." I had been seeing my stylist, Jamie, for about a year before she left the salon to pursue her dream of becoming a navy mechanic: no joke. I was happy for her, but sad for me. It's not easy to meet a stylist who really understands you.

Part of my problem with stylists is communication. Rarely do we seem to understand each other as intended. My mistake in the past has been to put all of my trust in the stylist (who, let's face it, doesn't know me, she just knows the trends) and usually end up allowing her too much power over my hair. My misplaced reverence for her superior authority (as denoted in the certificate issued by the cosmetology institution from which she graduated, displayed proudly by her little hair station) has resulted in one too many bad experiences -- and sometimes, at a hefty cost both monetarily and psychologically.

My last bad experience (before I met Jamie) was with a stylist named Katie. Ironically, the stylist at Wal-Mart who informed me she would be cutting my hair was also named Katie. Under normal circumstances, my somewhat superstitious self might have run the other direction, but it has been my experience that the majority of stylists have two-syllable names with five letters or less. So I hopped in her chair.

Because I was getting my hair cut inside a Wal-Mart (where I also get my eyes checked, buy groceries, get prescriptions filled, and pick up assorted other items) I mentally decided I was not going to be intimidated by this stylist. I (perhaps, unfairly) decided that because she must be working in this setting, she somehow was less pedigreed; this made me feel comfortable telling her exactly what I wanted, without asking her opinion.

"Just a trim, I am trying to grow my hair out," I told her. "And I like my bangs angled, but not too short."

We discussed this a little bit further (If I wanted to get the split ends off, I would need to lose about 1/4 inch from my layers; the rest would be sufficient with a 1/8 inch trim). I agreed to these terms, and she went to work.

After she was done, I told her to blow dry my hair, knowing it was $2 extra. It was snowing outside, after all, I didn't need my newly healthy hair to freeze and break off. So she got out her dryer and when she deemed me adequately dry, she turned off the device and allowed me to view my healthy hair through her hand-held mirror. I gave her my approval and it was time to pay.

My total amounted to $18.95.

Mysteriously, $3 had been added to my bill. Apparently there was a fee for conditioner. By conditioner I mean a CREAM RINSE. Not a fancy conditioning treatment that needs to be left on for 10-30 minutes. This annoyed me, but I said nothing, keeping in mind I did just get my hair cut in a Wal-Mart. I was more annoyed by the fact that my hair was not dry. It was actually quite damp. I try not to make a fuss with people that hold sharp objects around my hair or head, so I just paid the bill and left. This was the first time I left a "salon" without given a stylist a tip.

My hair is adequate. Sometimes that is the absolute best you can hope for whether you pay $20 for a haircut or $50. Right now, I would rather pay $20.