Thursday, 4 July 2013

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM A BARBER

When I go for a haircut, my Barber understands my little idiosyncrasy.  Not a word is exchanged, once I sit in her chair.  She knows exactly how much to cut, anyway. 

There is a reason for this bit of unfriendliness.  It’s not that I want to be anti-social; I just tend to be inquisitive and want to hear what the other customers are saying.  You can really pick up some interesting tidbits in a Barber Shop. 

Now, this Saturday, I went to get my ‘ears lowered’, as a friend describes  a hair cut.  I nodded the usual greeting, to my Barber, and sat in the chair.  The occasion was rather timely because, only a moment earlier, the next chair had received a patron; he and his Barber were already in conversation.
The tall, heavy set Cutter was animated; his manner of speech and body language suggesting that he enjoyed climbing great verbal heights.  He was a confident fellow, even if, with flailing arms, his scissors seemed a threat to all in the parlor.  First, I heard the word Poll and then the name Dunderdale.  In no time, at all, my radar was fixed. 

The Barber was saying: “I am tired of the pundits; their analysis is not worth a tinker’s damn, Bert. They believe the public don’t want to be bothered.  The prevailing view seems to be: don’t give them bad news, don’t raise uncomfortable issues and don’t disturb their state of economic bliss.  The pundits think the public has tuned out the politicians, he said with emphasis, developed a ‘deaf ear’, as they say, for things “newsy” and are just content with the joys of living in a “have” Province.  Sure, just a couple of hours ago, I asked one of my customers, how he is doing and he replied: ‘just livin’ the dream’, Charlie. We had a great conversation.  And, you know Bert, he wasn't the least bit tuned out.

My, my, I thought.  Am I about to get my money’s worth!


Credit: John Meaney 'Rant 'N Roar
“Isn’t that the conventional wisdom?” continued the Barber, and not in a rhetorical way.  The customer, having hesitated, the Barber continued:  “the inconsistency, of course, is that the Government’s popularity is still dropping.  If people aren’t listening and have tuned out, then the Polls should be at a standstill.  Actually”, he gestured with scissors, repeating himself, for emphasis, “the Polls should not have changed at all”.

Customer: It sounds logical, but after hesitating, he asked, are you sure?

Barber: Of course, I’m sure. If people think less of this Government today, than they did yesterday, they must have a reason.  And, if they have a reason, it means they must be ‘tuned in’ to the goings on.

Customer:  Well, what you say sounds reasonable; I suppose you can’t always be asleep or even deaf.  Maybe people hear what they want to hear.

Barber:  Yes, that’s just it, of course.  People may not always be tuned in; but, they are most certainly not always tuned out, either.  It’s no different with me.  I’m always able to selectively hear Uncle Jim, when he comes to visit; he’s a pain in the ass, but, it doesn’t mean I don’t hear him, when he says something interesting or new. 

Customer:  You, Sir, are starting to sound like most people who listen to Kathy Dunderdale, the Premier, giving the title an emphasis, ‘en francais’; certainly me anyhow, he added.  I hear her when she’s saying something important, and I notice when what she says, is completely asinine, like when she ‘banged up’ the phone on poor ol’ Nigel Wright.  But, I didn’t hear her when she said she was leaving for China. 

Barber: Why do you suppose that is? Didn’t you listen to the news?

Customer:  Why, of course, I always listen to the news.

Barber: Well, why do you think you didn’t hear then; it’s not as if she goes to China every other day?

Customer: B’y I s’pose, it’s because I figured that she wouldn’t be doing any damage for a while, breaking into laughter, at his own facetious remark.

Surprised by the customer’s reply, the Barber laughed, too.  He laughed, until he roared; his scissor-hand giving fair warning, that the customer’s unexpected humour had struck a chord. 

Barber:  God Almighty man, you actually did hear the Premier, didn’t you; the thought just got filed away, somewhere. You have just proven my point!  It makes sense, doesn’t it? Just imagine if I had to listen to every word Aunt Suze says; sure I’d be loco, he laughed again; she talks on and on and most of it, though admittedly, not all she says, is drivel. 

Customer: So, how do you deal with it, Charlie?

Barber:  It’s easy Bert. Just like you, I only listen to the important stuff. 

Customer: (A knowing grin starting to form on his face).  But how do you know you only hear the important stuff; haven’t you got to listen to all of it and decide what is important?

Barber: That’s just not how the mind works, Bert.  Now B’y, the last time you were here, I remember you saying that you often listens to your wife, Hazel isn’t it, with a deaf ear. Now, I was thinking about that comment long after you said it and concluded, my son, that that comment is a contradiction in terms. 

Customer:  What do you mean by that, Bert? I think I’m startin’ to lose ya here.

Barber: Well, Bert, think about it; if you listen, you hear. And, if you are deaf, you can’t hear, not even one word; it can’t be both, so which is it?

Customer: You might have me there, Charlie; I guess I must be listening to Hazel more than she gives me credit for.  But, if what you say is true, why is Hazel still mad at me? He laughed with a roar that sent him into a fit of coughing. 

The Barber stepped back while the Customer regained his composure.  But, he was not about to let the flow of this intricate matter get lost in the interval.  A soon as the coughing ceased, the Barber was ready with his retort.

Barber:  I can answer that ‘ol man.  The problem is you don’t always hear the parts Hazel wants you to hear.  You hear only what you want to hear.  And, that makes her mad!

Customer: But, Charlie, I still don’t understand how I’m able to distinguish between the two. 

Barber:  But that’s just it. That’s why Kathy Dunderdale has gotten frustrated enough to take off to China.  She got no business to conduct there, but if it were Outer Mongolia, it would matter the same. 

Customer: You mean Dunderdale is pissed for the same reason Hazel is pissed.

Barber: Absolutely, Bert. You have to understand that what is important, to her, is not the same stuff that’s important, to you. 

Customer: But, Charlie, think of what you are saying: if Dunderdale starts saying stuff I want to hear, I might start to like her again?

Barber: Actually, yes, Bert. That’s just it.  It doesn’t have to be important or anything.  It just got to be what you want to hear! 

Customer: But, how in name of Moses is Dunderdale supposed to know what I want to hear?

Barber: Bert, it’s no different with Hazel.  Everything she says is not always pleasant or even important.  Knowing you, she doesn’t have to pick you up a 'six pack' to get your attention. But, I bet Hazel knows she can’t always be going against the grain. Sometimes, she has to stop going on about her issues and begin talking about yours.

Customer:  I like the explanation so far, Charlie.

Charlie hesitated, but only for a moment. 

Barber: Bert, let me give you an example. Dunderdale likes to talk about Muskrat Falls. Likely, you’ve moved on from that subject.  Right now, you might only want to hear how she hopes to make sure the price won’t double.

Customer: Yes, I do worry about that, and I’d be happy to hear if she understands the danger.  And, I don't care, right now, about the difficult Budget decisions she’s had to make. I only want to know if she’s on track and, if she has other plans.  As much as anything, I’d be content to lend her one good ear, if I thought she was doing the best that can be done.

Barber:    That’s just the point, Bert.  Likely, if she thought for a second about you, when she says stuff, you would give her two good ears and you wouldn’t need a deaf ear, at all.

Customer: And then, Charlie, those Polls wouldn’t be moving, hardly, at all; at least, not out of her favour.

Barber: You might have a point there, Bert.

Customer: Jeses, Charlie, you’ll be doing Dunderdale’s hair next; the Premier could profit from someone, like you.

Barber: I don’t think so, Bert; I’m just a Barber.  I can lower her ears, but I can’t to open them. Anyway, Bert, you’re good to go. 

Ok, Maurice, it’s your turn. How are ya doin’ my friend?  “Just livin’ the dream, Charlie, just livin’ the dream.”

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