Economic Imbalance of the Barber Industry

As you might have gathered from the limited photo on this site, my hair is long. Ok it’s long in some places. I’ll be man enough to admit that maybe the fringe isn’t really as … how shall I put this … “existing”. But the rest of it is long and I like to think that if I did still have that full head of hair that it would be long too.

But the point of this entry is to tell you all about the economic imbalance that exists in the barber industry.

Today I got a fairly decent trim, took about forty minutes. The guy doing it took great care to ensure that my intricate instructions were followed to the letter – trim the sides, take an inch off the back, trim less from the fringe so the length looks more equal. So away he went, cutting and chopping, brushing and combing, looking every inch the consummate professional. He didn’t so much go at it hammer and tongs as went at it feather and flannel.

So at the end of the forty minutes, I was quite pleased. Looked good, keep Maria-Ana (the girlfriend) from threatening to cut it herself. How much did it cost me? Eighteen Euro. How much hair did I actually have removed? About four ounces I’d say. So I’m in fact paying for their time, not for the amount of hair they take off. Fair enough.

Therein lies the problem though. My mate Tom is on the opposite end of the scale to me. He has about half-an-inch of hair maximum, and when it’s time for a cut he just gets a blade all over. It takes about five minutes. How much? Eighteen euro. So what does the barber do to try and justify the outrageous cost? He aims to turns a simple head shave in to a mock up of the Sistine Chapel. So in the end, there’s thirty minutes of labour filler.

What’s the solution? The cost of a haircut needs to be a balance between time taken and hair removed.

If I go in with foot-long hair (think a hairy Italian sub) and order a head-shave, takes maybe ten minutes. The hair needs a good snip before they can take the razor to it but they don’t need to take care so it’ll probably be a ten minute job. Cost? About seven Euro.

Head shave of half an inch of hair? Five minutes. Cost? About three Euro.

Don’t get me started on bald men with just a bit of hair around their ears. They deserve to be paid for the ignominy of having a shiny head all their lives, poor bastards.

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