Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

I Almost Paid a Barber with an Illegal Annual Supply of Pumpkin Spice Lattes

by | Feb 17, 2024 | Life | 0 comments

Chronicles of a Bad Haircut Part I (13/40)

One of the continuing struggles of my life has been finding a hairdresser talented enough to deal with the three cowlicks in my hair.

I know what you are thinking, “Oye, Carlos, how can you say something like that when there are millions of (insert population currently afflicted by malady) afflicted by (insert current malady afflicting them).”

Well, just because struggles are different doesn’t make them less real.

And three cowlicks are no joke!

Growing up, people (my mom) would tell me that three cowlicks were a sign of good luck in China. I was told (by my mom) that only very smart people got them and that I was both lucky and the intelligentest.

All true statements.

So I shouldn’t complain.

But it is still a nuisance in my life because while I can afford a few bad hair days (given that I have the features Greek and Roman poets would sing odes about), I just don’t want to.

I had a regular customer at Starbucks when I worked at Starbucks. Talking to him, I learned he was a barber, and he traveled around the country teaching people how to cut hair.

He invited me to have him cut my hair at his hair salon.

Up to that point, I had been cutting my hair at a Supercuts. The idea of going into a salon was exciting.

The moment I walked in, I knew things would be different from Supercuts as I was offered champagne, beer, or wine. I just opted for water, but it is nice to be asked.

We chatted easily as he cut my hair. He finished, and I was so happy with my haircut. I had found MY barber in San Diego. Surprise quickly turned to panic when I walked to the front desk and was told my bill was $90 without a tip.

$90 right now is nothing. It is almost the price of a pumpkin spice latte in California, given all the inflation we’ve been through in the past few years — what I’m saying — MONTHS!

But twenty years ago, $90 was almost half my paycheck, a paycheck that quickly exited left as soon as it hit my bank account.

I don’t know why, but I thought when he invited me to get my hair cut by him, he meant he would do it for free. That’s why I happily accepted.

I knew I didn’t have that money in my bank account. I was still going to run my debit card and either face the declination by saying, “This never happens. I usually have millions in there!!” Or face the approval by later graveling and begging the bank teller at Wells Fargo to please forgive me one last overdraft fee.

I also thought of potentially (and illegally) offering him free drinks at Starbucks for life. Maybe that was his plan all along.

He must have seen the panic in my face because he stepped in, very calm, very cool, and said, “You know what? This one is on me.”

I had to renounce the idea that he was MY barber. I couldn’t afford him then. I don’t know that I can afford him now. After all, I need to put money aside for my Starbucks addiction, addiction that started working there.

That’s how they get you.


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