QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Haircuts (a rant)

I kinda don't get it. Okay, long hair can be annoying, so cut it. That's simple. It's everything else that's too much. Sometime in high school I just started to let my hair grow. And grow. And grow. I finally decided I'd had enough about four years later and went to a barber's to get it trimmed. It was my one and only time in that particular shop, but I remember the place well. It was a second floor shop on Northern Boulevard in Queens, New York. I went in and asked for my hair to be cut and then held my fingers apart to show how short. "But that'll be a crew cut!" the guy said. I don't remember his name, only that it was the same as a sports car. Maybe Ferrari? I told him that's what I wanted, and he cut my long hair to next to nothing.

Then I bought a Wahl clipper set and cut my own hair for years. In the summer of 1994, I traveled to Germany for a Vollunteers for Peace program. I had gotten their booklet from somewhere and perused it, then applied for three or four international work programs. There were a lot of agricultural offerings, as I recall, but I selected only construction jobs. I ended up going to Tübingen, Germany, where I worked remodeling old US Army barracks into student and low-income housing. (A year later a friend of mine went to University of Tübingen and stayed in one of the buildings at that base, although not one I had worked on.) I worked there for three or four weeks and then had scheduled time to visit Switzerland and Italy for another two weeks after that. I remember one of the things I considered essential to pack was my Wahl clipper set, although I only ended up up using it once there. When I returned from my trip, I found the US strangely obsessed with OJ Simpson, who had apparently gone on a drive while I was away.

Early 1998 I met the woman who I would marry. That took place in June 1999. A year or two into the marriage she suggested that she cut my hair rather than my simple short cuts. I agreed and that's how things were for the next fifteen or so years. By then there were three kids also getting haircuts and she decided it was too much. So I started getting my hair cut profesionally again. My default was Supercuts, but I did sometimes go elsewhere for purely pragmatic reasons. Supercuts is not known as a high end shop, but it was always fast and easy. That suited me just fine.

Starting in 2019, I was not just dashing off to Supercuts on my own when convenient, but also bringing Mr C, the yougest of our kids, then about fourteen years old. After his second Supercuts hair cut, he never wanted to go back. So we've tried out other shops eventually had an experience he liked at Joe's Barbershop — motto: "Just a little off the top" with a logotype having the name in all caps trimmed by about 20%:

Front window photo of Joe's

Photo from Joe's Barbershop website

The logo is clever and memorable. The station decor is Castro-matter-of-fact with mechanics tool carts for supplies, plain galvinized steel electrictal boxes, black iron pipe used for coat hooks. The haircuts cost more than Supercuts, and I for one, cannot tell the difference. Mr C prefers Joe's, so that's why we go there. The price is not really a bother, it's not that much more.

But I do get ticked off when the shop opens at 10am, I get there at 10am, the wait list is already an estimated fourty minutes long, and the actual wait time is an hour twenty. I could have cut my hair and cleaned up after it four times over in that amount of time. On my own, I'm never going to tollerate that kind of wait.