Mom vs Karen – The Fine Line

Mom vs Karen – The Fine Line

Mom vs Karen – The Fine Line

These are my observations.

Moms try hard not to be Karens…. Karens believe they’re being moms.

Moms are awesome… they’re here with their kids because we take our time with them and don’t churn them out like an assembly line.

Karens are so…. well… let me put it this way… Wikipedia’s write-up about them is amazingly detailed.

Note: I love all people… but that doesn’t mean that I have to allow people to act inappropriately in the barber shop.

“Now I don’t want to go on a rant…”
— Dennis Miller

What is a Karen? The barbershop version

Karens are simply mad people who want everyone to see how mad they are… They are waiting for some imperfection to pounce on, and if they don’t get that imperfection, they manipulate facts and situations, and love to play “gotcha” games.

When I worked at a chain salon, Karens were pretty easy to spot. You could usually see, hear, and feel their behavior in the lobby, and if you missed the hints there, they became really easy to spot once their child was coming to the chair.

They were also easy to spot during the haircut, after the haircut, out to the car, and out the parking lot.

Mom vs Karen – How they act

There are distinct differences between the two that every barber should become familiar with.

Mom vs Karen during the consultation

Moms know what they want, and take the time to describe it to the barber – we have a great conversation. They probably even have a picture and often say “as close to this as you can get.”

I like to ask several questions before I start cutting, and moms have a deep appreciation for this. When I tell them that a certain cut won’t work for their child, they are receptive and we have a conversation to find an alternative.


Karens have this “glare,” usually from the moment they get out of the car. It’s difficult to put into words, but it seems like everybody knows that glare… that  It’s as if they are looking for clues to find where they can “gotcha.”

Karens will assertively tell you what they want…


It almost always starts with “nobody can get it right,” “the last person really screwed this up,” or “I can’t get my regular barber.”

You can tell they have something in mind… but you’re not sure if it’s a specific look, or if it’s how they’re going to get a free haircut.

Instead of telling the barber what kind of haircut they want, they often tell what they don’t want, and then do what amounts to playing a guessing game with the barber.

They will give a couple pieces of information – and then go silent or start rambling… and then they will wait for the moment to go into Karen mode (usually during the haircut, itself).

Note: The most common example I’ve seen of this is trying to make the barber look like they don’t know what they are doing… eventually leading to the magic line: “What the others have done is….” (which is almost always the information which was needed in the first place).

Mom vs Karen as the haircut begins

Moms almost always say “I’ll wait in the lobby,” or ask if they can sit at the next chair. If they know their child is going to have a difficult time, they will often ask how they can help or assist.


Karens often take a stance two or three feet away from the barber’s scissors. When they are asked to sit down (preferably in the lobby), they will go the absolute minimum distance to technically do what they are asked. They will sit at the very front seat in the lobby. They will often try to sit at the next chair or at the opposite wall.

…with their glare intact.

I often have to repeat the request with them.

Mom vs Karen – the kids

By nature, kids’ behaviors and attitudes cover the spectrum, ranging from kicking and screaming to “silent teen mode.” Yet I’ve seen differences between Mom’s kids and Karen’s…


Mom’s child is often engaged to some extent, even if they are having a hard time with it.

They usually communicate tell mom what’s going on and what they like or don’t like… unless they’re in “teen mode,” in which case, they’ll say anything to get back to whatever it is that they want to be doing. 🙂

They are usually pretty loose, and most fidgetiness in the younger kids come from being excited and taking everything in… they’re not in the barbershop every day. This is new to them.

Their ticklishness is… well…. ticklishness… they just don’t want to be tickled and are avoiding the trimmers.

If a mom’s child is kicking and screaming, they are simply not comfortable and/or afraid of the haircut. This is so far out of their day-to-day routine and some just naturally handle it differently than others. The ones who are having a hard time with it have a look of “mom, I don’t like this – help me.”


Karen’s child, in my experience, is almost always afraid to talk or move… to the point where I can see it in their eyes and body language.

They sit uncomfortably still… they are disassociated. It is as if they don’t want to anger Karen, or something really bad is going to happen. If they do move, it is an exaggerated painful expression on their face, typically in the more ticklish moments – to them, though, the whole experience is a negative one, and is emotionally painful for them.

They speak quietly… “It’s okay” is one of their most common phrases.

Karen’s kicking and screaming child has the same issues as the mom’s child… but they’re also afraid of what Karen’s going to do… and their body language reflects it. Their face says “mom, don’t hurt me.”

Dealing with Karens… for Barbers

Most of the barbers I have spoken to rarely deal with a Karen.

Some comment that it’s because Karens normally go to a chain salon where they can bully the stylist and have a corporate structure that they can use to threaten with.

Others say that it’s because we don’t put up with their antics.

Karens are a dime a dozen at the chain salons… but I think I’ve only seen more than a couple in a barbershop. Maybe they wandered in by mistake, or just didn’t know that we don’t tolerate certain types of behavior in barbershops.

If it were my own shop, as much as I love providing customer service, I would have avoided the problem entirely and sent them on their way as soon as I saw the signs.

However, since I’m cutting in someone else’s shop, I have to represent them well.

I’ll normally see if we can get the cut done… and if I sense that it’s going to be a problem, then I’ll politely convince them to leave.

But my overall advice in dealing with a Karen is don’t… don’t let them be comfortable in the barber shop.

Karens are comfortable at the chain salons… they thrive on being able to threaten with a call to corporate or “I want to talk to the manager.” Don’t let them be comfortable at your shop.

You’ll need to continue to be professional – yet at the same time, tell them that their behavior is not okay in a barbershop… It’s a hard balance to strike, and they will try to push you off that balance.

You can bet that they are going to talk about you… no matter what

Karens thrive on trying to show their power and getting what they want… or by showing that they are hurting someone else.

You will become part of their gossip with each other one way or another.

Karens are like pigeons… if they get what they want
  • They’ll tell other Karens that you did a bad job and they got the haircut for free
  • This will tell other Karens that they can also get over on you
  • Your shop will become known as a place that caters to Karens
  • You’ll get more of them in your door because they know that they can
  • Your shop will lose precious time, energy, and money
…if they don’t get what they want
  • They will look for other places where they get their egos fed
  • They’ll tell other Karens that you are a bad shop and to stay away
  • They may post on social media – and you’ll have a chance to respond – and the court of public opinion will see the truth
  • They will probably never go back to your shop again

Mission Accomplished, as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather spend that time serving customers.

“Then again, that’s just my opinion… I could be wrong.”
– Dennis Miller

Question: What is my most expensive tool?

Question: What is my most expensive tool?

Question: What is my most expensive tool?

Barbershops are famous for being fertile ground for conversations about a wide variety of subjects. While I stay out of politics or religion, just about anything else is fair game.

I was surprised to see how many people would ask about my equipment and the cost and expensive nature of barber’s tools. I really didn’t think there was much interest in that part of the barber world.

Like any field, there is a wide range of costs for equipment. I know people who have the cheapest tools available and perform well with them, and people who have the most expensive items and yet have no business cutting hair.

I’m somewhat middle of the road when it comes to spending. I don’t mind spending the money, as long as I get what I am buying.

One of the main reasons that I only buy major equipment from Atlanta Barber and Beauty Supply is that I can get real-time advice about equipment before I buy it. I can hold the tool, operate it, and even try it out (somewhat) in the store before taking it with me. There have been a couple times where the purchase just did not work out for me, and they allowed me to bring it back (a nicety from them that is never to be abused).

However… their focus is not shears… it is electric tools and appliances, and consumables…

…and my shears (they are not “scissors”) are my most expensive tool in my setup. My main set costs more than every set of clippers, trimmers, and accessories for them, combined.

That is how important I consider my shears.

My Hattori Hanzos

I do almost all of my cutting with my 5.5-inch Hattori Hanzo HH-3L shears. My set has a swiveling thumb grip which aids with ergonomics and maintaining the health of my hands and joints.

I have been cutting with these shears for almost a year and a half, and they have been used on over 3,000 haircuts in the past year. I never had them sharpened over this time, and they cut better than my Bonika shears, which I have sharpened every three months.

Note: this is not a slam on Bonika… their shears are fantastic, and they custom-sharpened my set for certain barber-cutting scenarios. There are certain types of hair that my other shears struggle with, yet these blades handle them with ease.

People travel in from all over the country to study shears-sharpening with the owner, Bonnie Megowan.

I tell new barbers not to buy Hanzos as their first set. But rather, get the Bonika shears first and cut with them for a couple years, first. The may find that they are perfect for their needs. But when they need more, to take a serious look in investing in a set of Hanzos.

If the name “Hattori Hanzo” sounds familiar, he is the character in the “Kill Bill” movies who forged The Bride’s samurai sword.

The director, Quentin Tarantino, says that the character was named in tribute to Sonny Chiba’s (the actor in the movie) former role as the real-life historical 16th-century Samurai in “Shadow Warriors” (“Kage no Gundan”).

Hanzo’s customer service

When I bought my Hanzos, I didn’t just buy “a pair of scissors.” I bought a high-end professional tool backed by a ton of support and additional perks.

Hanzo Shears has a sharpening service where their rep comes out to the shop and picks up my shears and leaves me with a loaner set to use while they send mine to the factory.

I was a bit apprehensive at first, expecting a full-on sales pitch to the cutters in the shop, but my rep, Vera Collins, was 100% professional and a class act. She came in, waited for me to finish with my customer, and got all of the paperwork done in the background so I could see other customers without interruption.

The sharpening service also comes with a protection plan for the shears… an insurance policy of sorts… if my shears get lost, stolen, or damaged, I can pay a deductible and have them replaced.

Hanzo’s cutting classes

The company’s first-class nature extends far beyond the product. They offer cutting classes year-round where they break down haircutting into micro-sections.

Their classes at last year’s Premiere Hair Show in Orlando were very useful. I learned concepts about the construction of hairstyle that had never been broken down for me before, and I was able to go straight to work with what I learned from them the very next week when I was back in Atlanta.

Now…. full disclosure…

What I learned was not what I had expected to learn from the description of the classes. While in hindsight, the description of the class was “accurate” to a point, it was really a microcosm of the class’ description. That having been said, however, the classes were only 90 minutes long, so there was no way they could effectively break the whole thing down. But what they did teach was taught and demonstrated so effectively that it stuck and I could use it immediately. So “no harm, no foul” at all!

Also, the classes are, of course, an opportunity for Hattori Hanzo Shears to sell their tools to the students… and they didn’t disappoint there, either… I’ll explain…

A lot of seminar “classes” I have seen have been just enough information about something, and if you want the whole story, you have to buy XYZ…

However, Hanzo’s classes were the most useful classes I have ever taken at a hair show. The other most useful classes I have taken were put on by Chris Bossio at Tomb 45 – a manufacturer of haircutting products such as color-enhancers, precision shaving tools, and a line of products which simplify recharging barbers’ tools. I just started using their Shave Gel last week, and has worked so well that now I ‘m trying to buy it in larger quantities.

That having been said, when someone attends a Hanzo class, they don’t just get real and useful information, they receive pretty deep discount offers from the company…

…which I am probably about to take advantage of at the end of the month at their next class in Atlanta.

Happiness is when someone compliments your hair

Happiness is when someone compliments your hair

Happiness is when someone compliments your hair

I‘m all about spreading happiness… whether in the form of a well-placed dad-joke, a not-so-well-placed dad-joke, lending an ear, buying that dollar candy from a kid…

When you see that smile, it’s contagious… and it grows into conversations, which grow into connections.

It took me a long time to learn this… making someone else feel good is a rush like none other.

One of my favorite things about being a barber is when I see my client take that extra second to look in the mirror and they have that “I like the way I look” manner to themselves.

When someone feels good about the way they appear to others, it goes much further than just a haircut, or a new shirt, or whatever.

Your hair looks great

EVERY (yes, I mean “every”) time I have complimented someone’s hair, the person does much more than smile. I can feel the mood brighten, and their head lifts up a bit.

When they say “thank you,” it is the most unrehearsed, taken-off-guard, and sincere thanks that I appreciate their hair… as if they are surprised that someone took their time to see it and to say something.

Why the hair?

Nobody’s hair happens by accident…

Someone can grab a shirt they know looks good and put it on without any real effort, or a pair of jeans. But hair requires a little time and a couple of decisions. Even the guys who say they don’t do anything with their hair are intentional about not doing anything with their hair.

  • Curling or straightening hair takes several minutes.
  • Locks take a lot of time to put in, and to grow… and the maintenance is labor-intensive.
  • Getting hair to say to the side and/or back often takes a little product and time to get right
  • A shaved head has to be maintained much more often

People spend time and effort on making their hair look a certain way on a daily basis.

A compliment is specific

“Your hair looks great” or “I like your hair” are good places to start. Yet when you comment on a detail, the compliment takes on a whole new level of kindness and connection.

  • I like your locks… how long have you been growing them?
  • I like the color in your hair… did you do it yourself?
  • Man, your barber did a good job on your fade
  • That is one epic beard! (I say this a lot)
  • Your hair is so pretty… how long does it take to make it look this good?

A compliment is genuine – with no strings attached

Sometimes, the fact that I’m a barber comes out in the conversation – mostly because I am wearing barber swag. But – and this is very important – this is not about putting someone in my chair. This is 100% about them.

Let me put it this way (or as one of my dearest friends says, “here’s the Sinclair remix”): If you offer a compliment expecting something in return, you are being shady as hell.

When I talk hair with someone, I talk from a professional’s perspective. I talk about how good a job their barber did, or how good a job they did. In some cases, I’ll tell them that they need to give their barber a call because the fade is growing out.

I never offer my card… The moment someone gives their business card or IG or whatever, their “compliment” becomes a “salesman trick” and it turns people off.

I’ve had some of the greatest conversations while waiting in line at QuikTrip or at the grocery store… all from a simple comment about their hair, and them feeling better and having a nicer day as a result.

Let’s face it – we need more happiness spread around!

There’s a lot of effort in this world to make people feel bad in one way or another. However, if each one of us can make one person happier each day, how much better can it make the world? Even if it’s just our own world and the worlds of the people we impact?

When I was growing up, my mom almost always had the radio tuned to the Ludlow Porch show. He wasn’t one of those shock jocks or political “I’m right, you’re not” guys… he was one of those folks who just seemed to always have a good thing to say.

I remember that he would close out each show by telling the audience to go find someone to be nice to…

What if we all did that for just one person a day?

Try it, and let me know how it goes!

Where the $%&#! is Hickory Flat???

Where the $%&#! is Hickory Flat???

Where the $%&#! is Hickory Flat???

That was my first thought when E at E’s Barber Shop told me that he wanted me to work in the new Hickory Flat barber shop.

Spoiler Alert: I’ve learned from the locals that it’s in the southeastern corner of Cherokee County. I’m having a blast there and it is worth the drive!

The only thing I knew about Hickory Flat is that it is about 20 minutes further from home than the Woodstock location, and that the only other place to get a haircut there is a chain store.

I later learned that it was much closer to a lot of places than I thought it was.

If you recognize this, then your childhood was awesome!

I discovered this on my way to get my feet and arms worked on. I set my GPS to May’s Massage in Marietta (If you haven’t tried them, you really need to… I do a 90-minute foot massage there with about 15-20 minute focus on my hands and arms every couple weeks).

I expected a 20-30 minute drive, and Google Maps took me the back way. I started seeing streets like Hardscrabble Road, and signs for Crabapple, and Alpharetta Hwy 9. When I saw these, I thought I had been misdirected to Roswell and Alpharetta. So I pulled up an aerial view…

…and I discovered that Hickory Flat was halfway between Woodstock and Roswell… about 20 minutes from each one. Yes, a long drive from where I live in Marietta, but a short drive from a lot of other areas.

As I began cutting hair there, I began meeting people from all over the place. E’s has customers who drive 45 minutes up to an hour to get their hair cut.

I did a little research… especially since I am active in the Atlanta United supporters group community, especially with Terminus Legion and our AU Nation group. I found out that it’s closer than I thought to several of my favorite places…

Don’t Fight the Cowlick

Don’t Fight the Cowlick

Don’t Fight the Cowlick

“They tell me that I have a cowlick”

I’m told this a couple of times every day… someone sits in my chair and they say “I have a cowlick” and start pointing at places on their head (by the way, this is appreciated… it cuts reduces the mental gymnastics).

It took me a while to get used to the way my clients tell me this… quite often, it sounds like a revelation “Oh, I have this cowlick in the back” or “My barber tells me that I have a cowlick.” Many times, it sounds like the person who told them about their cowlick made it sound like they were the only one who has one, or that it’s uncommon… almost like a secret.

So what is a cowlick?

A cowlick is just an area of hair that grows in a different direction or angle from the rest of the hair. We’ve all pretty much got at least one to some extent… It’s natural, genetics, and I want to say that no two people have the exact same cowlick yet share characteristics – like fingerprints and snowflakes…

I have no data to back up that claim. It’s just what I’ve seen and I could be completely wrong on this.

The cowlicks I’ve seen typically grow in a whirlpool pattern or radiate along a line on the head. Sometimes they grow in a flat pattern, sometimes they stick straight out. Most often, they are somewhere in between.

I usually see cowlicks at:

  • the top of the head
  • the hairline above the forehead
  • the side of the head
  • “double cowlick” near the back of the crown
  • all over the head (as in one head, a ton of cowlicks)

Cowlicks are almost never perfectly placed to create the perfect symmetrical haircut for a perfect experience. They are pretty much always off-center and can have dramatic results. I’ve got one on the side of my head which, if I grow it out, makes my hair look like Ronald McDonald’s afro!

I know this can all sound like cowlicks are bad… I’ve heard hair cutters say that cowlicks are the enemy…

Not me… I say that a cowlick is your friend!

Working with cowlicks

I like to describe it as letting the cowlick think it’s in charge. The majority of hairstyles I cut work well with the majority of cowlicks, provided that I work with what the cowlick is giving me. I’ll give an example:

A client could never get his hair to do what he wanted it to do… go backward.

He complained about how “puffy” his hair was. I gave him the comb and asked him to show me what he meant. He combed his hair to the side and then to the back… and yes, his hair puffed up, even to the point of standing and flopping around in directions that he didn’t want it to.

I looked at his hair and saw that the hair was growing in a circle, and the area that he wanted to comb backward was naturally growing toward the right and to the front, which created the puffing and sticking up and toward the front…

Kinda like then you are petting a cat… pet it in one direction, the cat is happy. Pet in the other direction and push its hair in another direction, and the cat is uncomfortable and you might see claws come out!

Follow the cowlick and adapt the style to what it gives you

I adapted… I combed the hair into the direction which it wanted to lay down easily, and then cut it so that it would feather back to give that backward-combed feel. I explained to him what the hair was doing, and then showed him how he can get around it and make it work day-to-day without the hassles.

Cowlicks are strong by nature… they grow in a definite direction, and the hair can be straighter and more rigid. Work against them, and they can be very frustrating and get in your way…

Work with them, and they can naturally support the style which is being cut.

Making the cowlicks do what you want them to do

There are other ways to work with cowlicks… some simply need a little work and/or something put onto the hair to hold it in place.

Cut the cowlick out

This is temporary, at best. However, it does solve the problem during that time. I refer to it as cutting down the rooster tail. Done correctly, the hair is reduced (not completely taken off) and will have to regrow. This usually hides the cowlick for a couple of weeks, sometimes longer. However, once it grows to a certain point, it can stand out a bit.

Grow the cowlick out

This works best with medium or long length hair styles. As the hair grows, it gets heavier, and gravity takes over and pulls the hair downward – not straight down, but to a point where the cowlick is now adding a texture and/or shape to the hairstyle.

Wet it

Some cowlicks are easily tamed by simply wetting them and letting them dry, especially in the bangs area. Wet the hair, or a comb, or brush, and then run it through the area a few ties in the direction that you want the cowlick to go.

Dry it

Some cowlicks need a bit more help. Wet the area and then use a blow dryer to dry the hair into place. You may need to approach it from different directions. The idea is that wet hair is more manageable and the heat of blow drying it helps to hold it in one position.

Gel it in place

Holding a cowlick in place is a good use for a gel or strong paste (or clay, pomade, spray etc…). Depending on how strong the cowlick is, you will probably want to get some of the good stuff for that area – not necessarily your entire head, especially if you end up needing to use the firm or extra firm hold versions.

There are many ways to work with cowlicks, and some of them just need a little planning and tria-and-error until you find what works best for you. Usually once someone finds what works, they are quite happy with the results and transform their cowlicks from being nuisances into making the cowlicks work for them, instead.

I never could get the haircut I asked for

I never could get the haircut I asked for

I never could get the haircut I asked for

There is a small group of barbers which I meet with on a regular basis. This past week, we asked the question, “What is the thing we hear the most in our chair?”

One of the guys said that he often hears that nobody can ever give the client the haircut they are asking for… and it made me think of how many times I have heard the same thing.

When I ask a client what they want, I normally get one of a few standard answers:

  • “Give me a number __ on the sides and make the top shorter.”
  • “Just like what I’ve got, only shorter.”
  • “You’re the professional, make me look good.”

But I’ve been hearing more often that they can’t get the haircut they were looking for,

To be fair, we are not talking about bold errors that someone has made. This isn’t “I asked them to take an inch off everywhere and they gave me a mohawk.” The differences are usually very subtle.

  • The hair starts touching their ear too quickly
  • The hair at the top of the sides puffs out too much
  • They cut too much or too little
  • This part gives everybody trouble

Now there are usually a couple factors involved… the mindset of the person cutting the hair, and the communication which occurs before the haircut begins.

A haircutter’s work vs. a barber’s service

Too many haircutters concentrate on the work of cutting hair, and have forgotten the art of serving their customer.

To be clear: I am not talking about experience… I’m only in my third year of cutting hair at the time of this writing. I am in no position to throw rocks at other people because of their skill level or experience. I used to think I had a good fade game, and then I started cutting with barbers who were really good at fades – there were a couple of times that I had to ask myself if I even knew how to cut hair!

I’m talking about the mindset… usually that of the person cutting the person’s hair. When someone can’t get the haircut they want, quite often they got what the cutter wanted to cut (or didn’t want to cut) as opposed to what the client told them.

Let me try to illustrate it with music…

If you hire me to come play for your wedding, and I play a whole bunch of breakup and love-lost songs, are you going to be happy?

  • Does it matter if I have been a professional musician for years?
  • Does it matter if I am the greatest break-up song singer in the world?
  • Does it matter if they were the best renditions of those songs?
  • Does it matter if the catering crew really loved my performance?

Maybe I’m not clear at what music is appropriate. Maybe I’m not clear about what music you want. Maybe that’s the only music I know. Maybe I don’t care what music you want, and this is what I am going to give you.

Sure, I did the work… but I did not serve you and give you what I want.

A haircutter’s disrespect for barbering

Again, I want to be very careful with how I word this… because it can be easily mistaken for cockiness, being judgmental, etc… and that’s not what I am trying to do…

If you are dealing with someone cutting hair who is more interested in your wallet than in the profession, you are setting yourself up for failure.

It is very easy for haircutters to get sucked into the idea of “get them in, get them out.” There are several chains whose model is based on a “more affordable” and quick haircut, and it can be tempting to simply blaze through as many haircuts as possible. they take shortcuts… skipping certain parts, etc…

I have personally known people who pride themselves in doing haircuts in eight minutes and cutting four or five haircuts in an hour. When the customers come back to fix what they did, someone else at the shop will fix it for them for free. While their store praises them for the volume they are doing, the other people are paying the price for fixing their “work”…

…and they know it. They are being disrespectful toward the customer, toward the people they work with, and toward the entire profession.

Most are not this nefarious. I’d say the majority of people cutting hair take pride in what we do… and there are good hair cutters everywhere, not just in the barbershops.

Many folks with this “wallet vs customer service” type of mindset are just a product of the attitude of where they are working. Some are simply someone who is cutting hair because it is their job.

I promise that I’m not trying to be “catty” or unfair. I’m only speaking to what I have experienced.

…A barber respects the craft and wants to make sure of what you want before they start cutting, and will check the progress with you while the haircut is in progress.

So what can you do to make sure that you get the haircut you want?

Communicating with your barber is vital. Most of the better ones will ask you a lot of questions, so you won’t have to initiate the conversation. The more information you can give your barber, the better the odds are that you will walk out with the haircut you are looking for. 

Never assume that your barber understands

I may get into some trouble with some folks from this, but I’ll stand on it. Too many barbers hear the first thing and then go straight to work without clarifying.

“What they’ve done in the past is take a #2 to the sides and cut the top with scissors.”

This is a great place to start… not a great place to finish. Yet I have seen haircutters go straight into a cut right from there. There are too many variables to just pick up a pair of clippers or shears and start cutting.

Here are a few of the questions in my head when I hear this:

  • Has the #2 been too long or short for you? Or has it been just right?
  • Taper it down the neck? Full taper or just toward the edge?
  • Should I taper the hair in towards the ears to give more time before it starts touching the ears again?
  • Whitewalls?
  • How high should I go with the #2?
  • How much are we taking off the top?
  • How are you combing the hair? I need to know what to do with the bangs.

There is a lot to know. As a barber, I can always take more hair off… putting it back on is another story.

Ask questions and make your barber ask questions

I’ve learned from various mentors to ask many questions before starting work. This was true in web design, customer service, and is just as true in barbering.

Barbers refer to the consultation as the most important part of a service. This is where we learn everything we can before we start cutting. During this process, I am:

  • listening to what you say
  • looking at your hair and how it grows
  • looking for “trouble spots”
  • checking the skin under the hair for lesions, scars, moles, etc…
  • trying to determine how it was cut previously
  • asking you a lot of questions

The most valuable question I ask is “Is there anything else I should know before I start?” This is where I get the nuggets that I may have wished I had before I started cutting.

Draw a picture for your barber

…or show your barber a picture of what you want.

In my experience, this has been the most helpful for someone who wants something specific. I’ve had customers try to describe what they want, and then show me a picture of what they have in mind… and I wouldn’t have gotten the same idea from their words alone.

Showing the barber a picture gives us a clear idea of what you have in mind, and we can see where to take the conversation from there.

Usually, I’m telling my client that I can get something close to what they are showing me, or that they may not get the result they are looking for (especially if it’s one of those instagram pictures) – and I can tell them before I start cutting.

Thanksgiving Hacked Facebook Account

Thanksgiving Hacked Facebook Account

Thanksgiving Hacked Facebook Account

A couple days before Thanksgiving, Facebook disabled my account. I got a text message from my brother the next day telling me that I had tried to sell him some “adult material.”

Simple to fix… Right? After all, this is Facebook… just show that it wasn’t me, and we’ll be okay….

Where I went wrong

I guess we’ll get this out of the way… Hindsight being 20/20, I think I know why I wasn’t able to prove my identity.

You know those birthday wishes you get on fb? They’re nice, but when you receive hundreds throughout the day every year, it can get overwhelming. Figure a minute to respond to each one and say something more than “thanks”.. that takes hours to do.

So every year, I would switch my birthdate to a couple days earlier the night before, and then switch it back. (Facebook has a much simpler way to turn off birthday announcements).

I apparently forgot to switch it back… which meant that they couldn’t match my photo ID to my birthday, and since they couldn’t verify me, they wouldn’t even talk to me.

They ain’t messin’ around

I really can’t blame FB on this. While it would be a very simple fix to talk to someone, show them I’m me, multiply that by a few thousand attempts to hack accounts per hour, and I can understand why they can’t have a person address each attempt.

Facebook has an extensive help center and processes to fix just about anything that can go wrong. As long as you follow the processes, issues are usually resolved pretty quickly.

However, if something doesn’t match, then it appear to be an attempt to hack, and FB will shut it down…

…kinda like if a barber sees any signs of lice, That service stops right then and there and the client is out the door as quickly as they can be gotten out (hopefully in a kind and gentle way).

While lice typically need direct head-to-head contact to spread, I know many shops that will shut everything down and do an intense thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the facility before letting anyone back in (probably not a bad idea… there are people who love to sue, and people who love to record and post on youtube and tiktok).

So what actually happened?

Ironically, it appears that this whole mess started from one of my website clients (I’ve been building websites for years).

I won’t out them, but when I learned who it was, it made a lot of sense.

When helping someone get their online presence set up, I often set up their FB and other social media pages for them, and then tell them to remove me as the administrator for their accounts.

This person had not done this.

Their ads account got hacked, and since I was still listed as their admin, my accounts got hacked into.

What’s the end result?

In short, my entire Facebook and Instagram presence is erased.

It means that I’ll rebuild what I need to rebuild, which will take some time to do.

Nothing truly important was really lost… I still have all my pictures and such in my own computers, etc…

So really, there’s not much that went away that can’t be replaced… if it’s important enough for me to even worry about replacing.

Oh…. and I’ve blocked my birthday on Facebook!

No Mas! Cantina

No Mas! Cantina

No Mas! Cantina

It had been years since I had been to No Mas! Cantina. I think it was back when I was working in the restaurant and nightclub industry. So I had forgotten just how cool the place is.

My son and his wife were in Atlanta for a couple of days, and my Dad and I met them for brunch.

Normally, I wouldn’t suggest meeting downtown at around noon when Georgia Tech is playing…. Especially when it happens to be the Clean Old Fashioned Hate game between Tech and the Georgia Bulldogs. But for some reason, I thought they were playing in Athens. I was wrong, but we met at 11 and wound up leaving while the game was still going on, so we avoided the football traffic.

I picked up my dad in Covington and we made really good time going to the restaurant, so we checked out the place. The outside and inside of the restaurant are a feast for the eyes! It was as if we had gone into a Mexican folk art museum with trinkets, statues, and other pieces on display everywhere you looked.

ADios Cafe

Since we were pretty early, we went to find their ADios Cafe (it is spelled that way, with A and Dios capitalized). The cafe wasn’t exactly one spot, but rather seemed to run through along the sides of the Artisan Market (more on that later).

The Atlanta United fan in me was pretty thrilled that we found a table directly across the street from one of the city’s murals of Josef Martinez – a prolific scorer and the heart and soul of Atlanta’s side.

They serve food at the cafe, as well… I’m not sure if it is the same menu as the restaurant, but the selection was good enough to stand on its own.

Artisan Market

I’m not usually a fan of gift shops for restaurants. Whenever I think of them, I think of Hard Rock Cafe’s bars with the swag, or Cracker Barrel’s country store stocked with things you didn’t know existed, but had to have immediately (and in case you didn’t see anything you want, your kids want everything in the store).

No Mas! Cantina’s Artisan Market was completely different.

The market was filled with all sorts of artwork and furniture (who doesn’t need a crescent-shaped hammock for the living room?)… beautiful sculptures, mantlepieces, high-end candles, traditional pieces, and much more. I could spend at least an hour in there taking it all in.


They have a ginormous  parking lot with signs posted to scan a QR code and pay to park… and that No Mas! would validate your parking for while eating and shopping. It was hassle-free… just wait to get your validation code before putting your card information in… they’ve got it well handled (and that’s as much detail as I’ll go into).

The Food

Oh yeah… this is a restaurant, right?

Cross the patio and enter through the double doors and enter a really cool dining room. We went upstairs so we could enjoy the place with a view from above.

Our server, Dacari (I hope I spelled his name correctly) was impressive. He made sure that we had everything we needed, and was super-friendly. The rest of the staff we met upstairs were a fun team to chat with.

Dacari guided us through some selections, and his suggestions were excellent.

Between the chorizos, fajitas, and burritos, I think each of us were so well fed that we couldn’t think of food the rest of the day.

Personally, I had the chorizo tacos… yes… just yes.

I’m not so much of a connoisseur (I had to spell check that) or Mexican food snob to know if it was the most authentic flavor… but I know this: It’s the only Mexican restaurant I’ve eaten at besides La Carreta in Marietta that didn’t taste Americanized. (La Carreta is definitely worth a visit, too!).


Riding the Amtrak Auto Train

Riding the Amtrak Auto Train

Riding the Amtrak Auto Train

My trip to the Premiere Orlando Hair Show and Tennessee Barber Expo included a trip to Virginia Beach for my son’s wedding. So to get there, I had to go from Orlando to Virginia Beach, and then an immediate overnight drive to Knoxville.

Both of these drives measured out to about 8-9 hours, or so, on Google Maps. If I am honest, I really wasn’t looking to back-to-back drives like that with a wedding and then staying awake for a trade show (or the drive). So I started researching fights and rental cars, and the trip’s price kept creeping higher and higher.

During my search, I ran across Amtrak’s Auto Train. I could ride the train from Orlando to Washington, DC, and take my car with me.

I would leave Orlando on Thursday, and arrive in DC Friday morning. After three-hour drive to Virginia Beach, I was able to spend the day getting refreshed and ready for the wedding the next day. Since I was able to leave my suit hanging in the car, I avoided the hassles of trying to get it pressed and cleaned.

There are many travel tips with strategies for riding the Auto Train. For me, however, I like being early. I’ll wait if I have to, but being early has almost always served me well. They said that cars can begin lining up at 11:30 with the last car being accepted at 2:30.

I like to start early

I arrived early enough to get breakfast at the Cafe Perks Diner (don’t let the website’s design trick you… it’s all about the food here), about five or ten minutes away from the station. The area around the station doesn’t look like much, and is kinda sketch in many places, but this diner was really good. I did not expect to see Gyros as an option out that way!

Then I went to get into line. There were already about 30-40 cars when I arrived. After another five minutes, the line extended out onto the street.

…and we waited.

Now some folks say that you should show up closer to 2:30 so you don’t have to wait as long (and supposedly those cars come off the train more quickly, too?). But the wait, itself, didn’t bother me. It was a big hot, so I wasn’t going to wait in the car all that time, so I got out and walked around, as did several others.

I spoke with a few of the folks, mostly retired people going back up north in a reverse snowbird kind of way. Some had come down to do some prep work on their winter homes before bringing the family down. Some really nice people.

But then you also had the “tired of waiting – the world should revolve around me and my needs” people. You’ve seen these guys before… they’re the same ones who will cut you off in traffic and drive slow. More on that later.

Don’t wait for announcements… watch the other passengers and do as they do

Pay attention to the other passengers… you can get an idea of what is going on.

A couple hours into the wait, I noticed people were leaving their cars and walking up to the station. I asked one gentleman what was happening, he said that they were starting ticket check-ins now and then they would come around for the cars later. No announcement had been made. No check0ins had occurred. They were just walking to the station. I joined them, and sure enough, they were checking people in.

After checking in, I returned to the car, and in a while, they came and logged in my car and put a magnet on it, and I was to leave the driver’s side door open, the key in the ignition, and go to the terminal.

We still had about an hour or so before the train would board. So I chatted up with some of the other riders and grabbed a couple cokes from the terminal shop (not too overpriced, to my surprise).

Yup… Karens ride the train, too.

People stated moving out onto the train platform, and after a while, I went out and found my car, and waited near the door. When they got around to boarding our car, here comes Ken, the Male Karen!

I’m not sure if “Ken” is the right name… it could be Frank, or Male Karen… the internet doesn’t seem to really know, either.

So “Male Karen” jumped up from a nearby bench and went right up to the door with his family trying to keep up. He had that “I’m determined to get in first” look…

He went right up to the door as the attendant was opening it and got right into his face… well… it would have been his face except that the attendant was around 6’2″ and Karen was about 5’0″. The attendant told him that they were boarding but that he had just jumped in front of me . He snapped back “We’ve been waiting here for hours, way before he got here!”

I guess he really likes having a window seat, or something?

Have you ever seen an entire family rolling their eyes in apology and embarrassment?

As they were passing, I leaned in and jokingly asked them who they pissed off to cause them to have to ride with the guy… I thought I was being an a-hole for about half a second until one of the ladies said “Yeah, I have to live with him.”

Get the roomette

Speaking of riding with others, I highly recommend springing for a roomette as opposed to riding in coach. I was able to bid on a last-minute upgrade and got mine at a nice discount.

  • You don’t have to ride with Male Karen
  • You aren’t confined to one seat
  • You can lay down flat to sleep instead of trying to get comfortable in a coach seat that doesn’t quite lie down.
  • You can take a bottle with you and drink in your roomette rather than having to buy from the train (remember the couple of cokes I got before?)
  • An attendant is available to help you with anything you may need.
  • Scheduled meal delivery to your door
  • Somewhere on the trip, the conductor had to get on the intercom in our car and ask people to stop watching certain kinds of movies on their devices because there were children on board.

Our attendant, Steve, was great. He gave us a full rundown of what to expect on the trip, where the lounge car, coffee, and restrooms were – and how to use the restrooms… because if you weren’t careful, or flushed paper towels or other items that weren’t supposed to go down the toilet, you could disable the toilets for the entire train… and don’t drink the water from the sink. The sink’s water wasn’t from the drinking water supply… it was from the same supply as the toilets.

Pro Note:
Tip the attendant… Take at least a $20 for them. They are working their butts off taking care of a lot of people (and dealing with a few attitudes here and there), and yet manage to make the trip a fabulous experience.

The trip, itself, was relaxing. The only tricky part came up once in a while walking through the train while rolling down the tracks. But it wasn’t crazy.

The “bed” was surprisingly comfortable (both seats rolled down to form a flat surface).

I was able to get a lot of work done on the trip, relax, and be fresh when we arrived in DC.

After getting off the train, I think I had to wait maybe 30-45 minutes for my car to come off the train, and I was on my way to my son’s wedding in Virginia Beach.

Amtrak only runs a couple of the auto trains (I don’t know the exact number, or their routes), but if you are going from Orlando to DC – or somewhere near those two points – it was definitely worth it and made the rest of my trip much easier.

Joining the Crew at E’s Barber Shop

Joining the Crew at E’s Barber Shop

Joining the Crew at E’s Barber Shop

E’s Barber Shop has been around since 1980, and has shops in Woodstock, Canton, Holly Springs, and the Hickory Flat area. I am cutting and accept appointments (and the occasional walk-in if time is available)  in the Woodstock shop, located on Hwy 92 in front of Sam’s Club. You’ll literally pass right in front as you enter the Sam’s Club parking lot.

While some women get their hair cut here, E’s provides services for men. It’s not one of those “get ’em in, get ’em out” places. It is built around a high quality of haircuts, where you get as much time as you need in the chair.

Every service ends with neck shave and hot towel… It’s a finish like a liqueur shot at the end of a fantastic meal, a perfect ending to get you back to your day.

E’s offers men’s gray hair camouflage, as well, and I am pretty stoked about being able to offer it through the shop. As some of you know, I have been trying to add this for a while.

The people I have met so far are a fantastic team. “E” is one of those guys with that “relaxed intensity” which one of my mentors taught me about which separates a professional from “some guy with skills.” His personality runs through the shop where I am cutting, with Heather and Helen managing and running things flawlessly.

I’m looking forward to being a part of this team, and to welcoming you to the shop. Book your appointment and the chair is yours!