An Interesting Conversation With a Barber About Kids

Getting a haircut is usually a not-so-pleasant experience for me because it’s hard to strike an interesting conversation with the barber beyond the usual “you live around here?” conversation during the haircut and the end result of my haircut invariably gets a thumb down from my wife and daughter. So I normally wait one or two weeks more than necessary to get a haircut. Today was no exception.

I keyed my name into the SuperCut (Yes, SuperCut) wait-list system and waited my turn. No more than 3 minute of wait, I got called by Tommy, a new guy. “Here we go again,” I thought, “gotta go through another ice breaker.” Tommy was friendly, having just given lolly pops to two kids waiting for their daddy’s haircut. He asked about my plan for the rest of the day. I casually griped about having to drive my daughter around for her drawing class like a chauffeur. He asked how many kids I had. “Just one,” I replied. Then came the shocker, “I’ve got 5 kids! 4 boys and 1 girl. The last ones were a twin of a boy and girl” “OK,” I thought to myself, “what am I complaining?!”

Then the conversation turned into shopping for the kids as the school was about to start next week. I jokingly mentioned that with 5 kids, he could economized by using the hand-me-downs. “No,” he corrected me, “at their age (13 years old – his youngest twins), they don’t take hand-me-downs any more.” He even bought sneakers well over a hundred dollars a pair because “he’s really good at basketball” and they “compare among their friends.” Yap, the parents have to bear the burden of their children’s vanity.

It’s hard for me to imagine having 5 kids in the family nowadays with a barber’s income, probably helped by his wife’s income. It’s a struggle nevertheless. As the conversation continued, I saw my hair was getting thinner and thinner. I shut up quickly for the fear of turning into a skinhead.

As I walked out, I tipped Tommy an extra dollar and wished him good luck. It’s a good day after all.

My lesson learned: There is always someone else had it worse than you do and they compensate with something else. Need not complain, just enjoy while you can.