Trying to use barber terms can lead to unintended results

I’ll never forget the look on his face…

…even after I asked him if he was sure three times.

About a year ago, some kid – he couldn’t have been more than 14-16 years old – sat down in my hair. His hair grew pretty close to perfectly straight out of his head. If someone were to say “make an afro out of straight hair,” this would be about as close as you could make it.

I remember his hair being a bit higher than a business card, but not quite as long… so somewhere between 2-3 inches, or so… but it was pretty long and stood high on his head.

He said “Take it down to an inch and a half – use a #5 on it.”

I told him that he had just told me that he wanted two different things, so let’s talk for a moment to make sure of what he wanted before I start cutting.

“Nah, use a number 5.”

“Are you sure?”

I have a personal procedure that I follow when someone is about to make a big change to their hair… or when I think they are asking me to do something without really knowing what it is…

I will ask “are you sure” three times… and then I will let them know that I am asking a third time before I start cutting.

There are guys who sit in my chair who have kept their hair a certain way for a long time or who will try different things along the way. They’re easy to spot. Their hair already looks good, it’s just time for a cleanup, and they know what was used in the past, and they know what to tell the barber. Most guys in my chair with a short hair style use one of the same three lengths, and it’s simple to keep their hair consistent.

This wasn’t one of those times… and I’ll never forget the look on his face as I went down the middle of his head with the requested #5… leaving just over half an inch of hair.

Barbers want to give you what you want… it is important to us. So if you request a certain guard, or use a barber’s term, we will go to work on it. If there is ever any doubt, it is far better to talk about it before the barber starts cutting (if you have a picture, that is even more helpful).