My Barber is not Bilingual

Oh, how awkward was this one? My inaugural haircut in San Francisco was at the hand of a man named Bin (yes, like the container, but pronounced "Bean"). Already seated in his chair, it became apparent that Bin did not and still does not speak English. It probably goes without saying, but this small fact made for a rather, uh, interesting haircut experience.

Let's expand upon this. Try conveying what you'd ideally like your hair to look like: what you maybe don't like about your hair; what your do isn't doing for you; where you'd like to leave it long; where you'd like to bring it in a little; how you'd like it styled on the sides, in the back; for the ladies, what color you'd like it to be; the addition or removal of bangs; gents, the length of sideburns... all of these things without using words. Kinda difficult, eh?

Luckily I did not have to explain things like bangs or highlights to Bin. I only wanted the common-man's haircut for crying out loud! All this should require is a fast-food-like order for a No. 1 or something. But not for Bin. I had to physically and spatially diagram this seemingly extraneous request with abstract hand gestures, circling around my cranium, running through my hair, elevating up and around my ears, deploying a streamlined motion in the back (complete with sound effects), all while Bin's eyes followed my hands and arms like he was watching a fly buzzing around the room.

Poor Bin! Poor me!

Then the sheers. Oh, Bin. Bin, Bin, Bin. I don't think Bin had yet mastered the sheers - the trusty blades any sane, employed barber should be more than proficient with. Bin just couldn't get the hang of it. Keep in mind there was absolutely no conversation happening, so one horrible haircut was being wreaked in a silent room, the two of us staring into the mirror with confusion as each snip revealed a different patch of my scalp.

I wanted to cry. I think I almost did actually. It was horrible.

I walked out of there looking like I had been speeding on the highway, and at some point during the joyride had leaned out the window and dragged my skull on the pavement for half a mile. I, my hair and I, we looked injured, and I think Bin knew what he had done. He knew this was certainly not the best cut of his (probably early, probably not blossoming) career, so we sort of parted ways like we were breaking up... without using words.

But Bin and I knew we probably wouldn't be seeing each other ever again.


casacaudill said...

I think Bin might have been related to a hairdresser I once visited in Alameda - on a recommendation. She shaved the back of my head. Before I could figure out what had gone wrong, she took men's clippers on the 2 setting and set to work. It was a nightmare. I did cry.

Jes said...

LOL oh, man.
this is a top post.