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The High Price Of Cheap Haircuts

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For years fellow fellas have shaken their heads in either disgust or bewilderment when I mention where I get my hair styled and how much it costs. You see I can’t stand barbers (they’d rather shave you bald than do anything else) or the cheap places in the mall (filled with beauty school rejects) so I go to posh salons where they treat me more like royalty than just another head of hair. I also kind of like being pampered. Go ahead, call me names. I’ve heard it all before.

I’m really quite particular when it comes to cutting the hair on this head. I like someone who will talk to me, but not too much because they need to pay some attention with those sharp knives pointing at my vital parts. They should ask me a few pointed questions about myself, and tell an amusing anecdote about themselves, but can allow for some quiet space in between. This isn’t a first date, they have a job to do so there is no reason to worry about a few awkward moments of silence.

I want to be asked about the style I prefer, but I’d also like the stylist to not be afraid to add a few flourishes of their own. And I don’t want any quick whiz-bangery going on either. I love to get my hair cut. I love the smells, the feelings, and the luxury of it all. The sensation of the comb sliding through my hair is enchanting and the warm buzz of the clippers is soothing and wonderful. I hate it when they rush through the process.

Mostly, I love the shampooing. Were it not for that, I’d probably let any old thing cut my hair. There is something absolutely inspiring about someone washing my hair while I sit back and relax in a comfy chair. Add a head rub into the mix and I’m all yours. I think I could have my head rubbed for the rest of my life and never want anything else.

So the deal is this. I used to get my hair cut at a salon right next to where I worked. It was super convenient, and I’d usually pop over during my lunch break. But also, it was a nice salon and the ladies who worked there were lovely creatures. The same lady has been cutting my head for years and years. Recently, she left for another salon, miles away. Initially I decided I’d stick with my salon for the convenience factor and that there were a few other ladies there who had acted as substitutes once in awhile and did a perfectly marvelous job.

A few cuts into this practice and almost everyone I knew was gone. I don’t know what’s happened to this salon, but all of my favorites suddenly disappeared. What remains are new girls who I do not know, and who carry none of the same grace as the other ladies. Okay, grace isn’t exactly the right word, it was more like country charm. But these new gals are more like country, without the charm. One girls wears sweat pants to work – sweat freaking pants! I can’t deal with that.

So now I have to find a new shop. Like an idiot I lost my old stylist's number and I can’t remember where she went when she left. In a pinch I recently went to the mall to get my hair cut. I knew it would suck, but it would be cheap and my hair would grow back. Or so I told myself.

With a sigh I went into Mastercuts for a ten dollar disaster. Walking in, I was immediately accosted by their horrible art deco design straight out of 1960s hell. There were two ladies, and one was on the phone so the brown haired one picked me up.

She was very chatty and asked me way too many personal questions. I forgave her for this since it’s our first cut which naturally lends itself to questioning and she hasn’t had time to learn my conversational style. She also cut a little faster than I liked, but it’s a mall and so I again cut her slack.

Halfway in I’m not impressed but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. Then the other lady got off the phone. She immediately, and loudly complained about the phone call. Apparently it was a former customer who has filed a complaint against this lady for a bad coloring. This woman was called a variety of names and there was much discussion about how stupid the whole thing is.

My lady gets sucked into the bad mouthing and there was much to do about how the lady with the bad coloring was told it wouldn’t go well. At one point my stylist said, “I wish the company would just tell those people to go jump in a…


… lake or something.” And I am not exaggerating on the pause there. It took her a good half minute to come up with that zinger – a lake.

To myself I’m thinking “You can’t think of the closing remark to ‘go jump in a…’ and the customer is the one that’s stupid?”

No longer paying any attention to my hair, it gets cut in a whir and I am whisked off towards the cash register.

All that and no freaking head wash and rub.

Still I tip.

I walk out shaking my head and wondering how long it will take for it to grow back.

Call me what you will, but I’ll stick to my expensive salons.

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About Mat Brewster

  • Sally

    If you have a good hairstylist or barber stay with them. They know what you like, but sometimes you get in a rut and need a change also

  • faithful

    Boy O boy your the type of guy that has made the old fashion barber shop almost a thing of the past. Shame on you. Good thing the wonderful folks here in my hometown still appreciate the hard working barbers .They start early (at 6:30 am) giving us time to get our haircut before work or school. Offering free coffee ,weather updates and good conversation. Yes, they want to know whether you’d like a taper or a block but isnt that what they are supose to do? Or do you expect them to read your mind? As far as trimming hair in the nose and ears its part of the training and the only reason the little country charmers dont do it for you in your fancy salon is because it grosses them out. Silly little things. I guess since they look so good in their tight jeans their momma bought them you can excuse anything though.Have you really ever had a barber cut your hair? Or do you still hold a grudge from when your daddy took you to the local barbershop and got you a flat-top?Wake up junior. The old fashioned barbershop is not as old fashioned as you think .All the charm you’ll ever need is there if you quit looking in the mirror so much you just might see something more.

  • SHAR


    Of all the slings and arrows of advancing age, I think the most painful was the first time a ‘hair styist’ finished up my haircut with a quick buzz IN THE EARS.

    But as you said, Advancing Age has a way of putting Vanity down like an old dehydrated dog.


    In Texas — according to my scientific census — Anglo hair stylists have two career path choices:

    1) topless dancer –> hair stylist –> prison

    2) hair stylist –> topless dancer –> prison

    …And they’re either named “Tiffany”, “Tanya”, or “Crystal”.

    I think it’s a DNA thing.


    re: “I told him to get a haircut from someone different EVERY time; that’s what I do now because… It’s a lesson in humility”


    “…I hate barbers. Butchers is what they are.”

    Dear Matt, [and anyone else reading] — you’re too caught up with your Ego.

    If you ever want a quick path to some Buddhist-style egoless enlightenment, I suggest a new experience with a ‘hair cutter’ of unknown quality every time you go it. It will make you less enamored with your looks — and a humble and wiser man.

    For only, like $12 a shot.


  • Mat Brewster

    The father in-law tells this story of visiting his barber for the first time:

    Sitting down, the elderly barber asks “you want the usual?” Having never been there before, he wondered what the usual was, but said yes anyway. Bowl was placed on head and a trim job ensued.

    I hate barbers. Butchers is what they are. But man those head rubs are the best.

    Mastercuts has always been, in my experience, filled with the type of girl you mention, Shark, but at decent salons they’re usually cute, perky, and do a mean shampooing.

  • sr

    Shark. Great comment. My barber is the local okie. Cheap and crappy haircuts. Always wants to trim my eyebrows, nose and ear hair. My answer is no. Im just an old ugly fart and frankly Scarlett I dont give a dam. Would you like your hair blocked or tapered? Dont care. Cant see the back of my head. Such is life at the barber shop.


    Coupla quick points:

    1) I used to chase my “stylist” around the city…because…

    2) these folks tend to change jobs about as often as they change underwear; but that goes with being a crank-head — which is a requirement for all female hairstylists — at least here in Texas. [“country without the charm” — to say the least!]

    3) The greatest gift of advice I could give my grandson: I told him to get a haircut from someone different EVERY time; that’s what I do now because of… see #2. (It’s a lesson in humility; it’s more exciting; and it frees one from having to keep up with these meth-mommies.

    4) I hate to be talked to while I’m getting a haircut; that’s why I go to these ‘cheapo-clip’ places that hire only recently arrived Mexican girls/ladies. No habla English. Plus — I don’t believe they’ve been in America long enough to have taken a liking to speed.

  • Thanks Chris. I’ve moved to different cities half a dozen times in my life, and each time I always miss my old stylist. As my hair thins (a-hem) it seems more and more silly to pay more money for the cut, but the experience is always worth it.

  • Great story!
    I have been going to the same person for the past decade. She used to be at a mall salon, but when the company treated her and the other stylists bad, they left and opened their own place. Sure,it is a little out of the way, but that is where I go. The shampoo, the cut, it’s great. To them I am Chris the Movie Guy. we all chat for awhile.
    Great imes, and well worth it.