What Men Want
by Jeffrey A. Tucker
You know why so many men walk around with sloppy hair? We hate haircuts. You have to drive there to get one, which represents decline, because if you know about Figaro from Rossini's "Barber of Seville," the barber came to your home (but then he also pulled out your teeth and passed on furtive notes arranging encounters of various sort, etc.).
In any case, you have to drive there to get a haircut and you would rather be doing a thousand other things. Then you wait. Wait! Oh sure, there was probably a time when men would meet at the barbershop to talk about the crops, the harvest, the rain, fishing, or whatever. No one wants to talk about that stuff anymore.
Now they talk about sports. It can be very intimidating. I used to read the sports page before my haircuts so that I could say something, anything, if only to prevent the men from muttering about the odd bird in the bow tie after I left.
One time, though, I really messed up. I noticed that no one was in the barbershop and said, hey, what's going on? The barber said there was a game going on in Auburn right then. I said yeah? And then warming up to the idea of sports talk I said: "who we playin'?" His answer was devastating and exposed my affectation immediately: "Alabama." (If you don't understand why this answer would be humiliating, you know even less about sports than I do.)
There was once a charming old-world Texas frontier town with a barber whose trade went back generations. He was the only one in town. But woe for the people who had the misfortune of getting a haircut the day I was there. Arriving mid morning, it was noon before my time came and then he had to step out to get a bite to eat. He didn't come back for an hour. By this time, I was so demoralized that I had to wait it out. My hair was finally cut — after several naps, major depression, suicidal thoughts — at around 2pm. I was too defeated to complain.
If there had been anything to talk about with those other cobweb-covered men, it was done after 10 minutes. In any case, the truth is that there is nothing anymore to talk about in barbershops. You learn nothing, nothing that you can't get from Google in half a second. We have nothing to gain from these strangers, and we have no interest in telling the barber the ins and out of where we are from, what we did on our vacations, and like that. Why should we?
We don't "get to know" the guy who processes our one-click Amazon order. The modern age allows us to pick and choose our associations very carefully, and this should extend as far as possible. Even our doctors have speeded up thanks to Urgent Care clinics that have liberated us from the family doctor who is glad to waste a half a day of our time at his convenience.
In any case, what the world needs very badly, I have just found: the 3-minute haircut. Can you imagine? You drive up and park and walk in and sit down. Becky Boss at Fantastic Sams in Westerly, Rhode Island, gets the job done in 3 mins. for men and 5 for women, and it is a great cut! Not a lot of fussing and poking and flicking your precious locks around. She understands that your time is costly. And her speed helps her get customers in and out.
You can leave your car running! And what a great sense of life this Becky Boss has. No unanswerable questions about whether you would like her to use scissors or an electric razor: she just does what is best. We are not expected to conjure up a panoply of preferences that we don't really have, e.g. do we want it "blocked" in back or "shorter on top." She sees what needs to be done and does it. The critical thing is that she knows what really matters: your time. There is just enough time for a first impression and you are gone.
So I'm wondering why there isn't a chain that advertises 3-minute haircuts. I guarantee that it would do very well. Every guy dreads getting his haircut. For that matter, women report that the longer a "stylist" takes with their hair, the more worried they become — and the worse the cut ends up.
Someone told me about a place where you can get your oil changed and get a haircut at the same time, which seems like a step in the right direction. But still, you don't need your oil changed as often as you need a haircut. So the 3-minute haircut is still the answer.
Let's say the haircut costs $12. That's $4 per minute that the barber earns. That's $240 an hour, or $1920 a day, and $9,600 a week, and — wait for it — $480,000 per year, plus tips! You can be millionaire in two years, and that's with two weeks of vacation each year! Yes, yes, there are also taxes and the costs of doing business, but the point stands.
I've seen the future and it works!
August 10, 2005
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