I need a haircut, but I have been putting it off after my last experience at the hairdressers. Don't get me wrong, I came out with a very nice haircut, and I'm pretty accustomed to putting my foot down to the sales pitch, "No, really I do not want a bottle of shampoo that costs £50, I'm happy with the one I get in tesco."
My problem is the small talk, the terrible, irritating, chirpey small talk interrupting my precious quiet. But, surely I've put up with that every haircut I've had since I was old enough to have haircuts. And yes, I have and I can handle talking about holidays, the weather, what I'm doing for Christmas/easter/the summer. I can cope with that, its when they ask *that* question that my heart starts pounding...
HAIRDRESSER: So, what do you work at then?
ME: I work for the NHS (vain attempt to dodge the issue)
HAIRDRESSER: Really, what do you do?
ME: I work with people who have mental health problems/children with behavioural problems (here it comes)
HAIRDRESSER: Oooh, what as?
ME: An assistant/trainee psychologist (Sh*t, I've said it, better brace myself)
Whereupon the hairdresser almost invariably launches into something along the lines of...
-->"Can you read my mind?" (Ha ha ha, I've never heard that one before...but its an easy one to handle, "Sure, but it'll cost you £50.")
-->"I had depression and my GP prescribed me antidepressants, what do you think about antidepressants, should I take them? I thought I should have therapy, you know, I could talk about my terrible childhood/dodgy ex-boyfriend/..."
-->"Oh, my sister's kid is really badly behaved. I thought he might be autistic, what do you think? Oh, and I read something about ADHD the other day, and now they're talking about ritalin and, well I think its all an excuse for bad parenting really. What do you think I should tell my sister to do?"
The last hairdresser was the worst of all - I had to listen to a very sorry tale about a horrible childhood involving a very dodgy psychoanalyst.
Don't get me wrong, I like helping people - I love my job. If any of those hairdressers were at the other side of the consulting room at work, I'd know what to do and I'd be completely sympathetic. Indeed, if they were friends, I could handle it. But really, when I'm having a haircut, its the last thing I want to think about. Not to mention the sheer awkwardness of saying to a total stranger with a pair of very sharp scissors in her hand, "How terrible for you but its not professional for me to comment, now just get on with cutting my hair please."
At least doctors only have to put up with people showing them bunions and rashes and such like. So I am trying to come up with a ploy to dodge the question or ensure that the hairdresser doesn't wish to continue the conversation. Partner dude (a mathematician) never has these problems...perhaps I'll start fibbing. Can anyone think of any unbearably dull professions that are sure to turn a hairdresser off continuing the conversation (but are not so complicated just in case the hairdresser has sufficient knowledge of it, that I couldn't bluff my way).
Partner dude reckons I should tell them if they wish to continue talking about their personal problems/horrific childhood/dodgy sister that I should tell them they're welcome to continue but I'll charge them at private rate and deduct the cost of my haircut (I do think that's a bit mean. Although a friend of mine is employing it very effectively with unwanted telesales calls...)