Sort-of-quarantine Diaries, Day whatever: The Haircut

The Netherlands has begun taking first tentative steps towards reopening after the Covid-19 lockdown. Since last week, the so called contact professions” - barbers, tattoo parlors, dentists etc., have been allowed to reopen. I was overdue for a haircut even before the lockdown had begun. After two months, I have been overripe1. Much to the wife’s annoyance, I’ve been dithering about getting a haircut appointment. While walking past the barber yesterday, the wife prodded me to get one. They had a spot available right away.

A person (in face mask) had been dedicated to receiving the customers and directing them to a standing table at the entrance with a bottle of hand sanitizer and an open box of face masks. After sanitizing my hands, I peeled a face mask from the box but wore it both inside out and upside down. This was pointed out and I fumbled and corrected myself. I awaited my turn in a corner designated as the waiting area while each exhalation through the face mask fogged my glasses. Every customer and hair dresser wore face masks. Some hair dressers also wore transparent face shields. Still, the usual din of a hair salon was alive and well - the smalltalk, the whirring of hair clippers and the whizzing of blow dryers. This felt very reassuring after all these weeks of sitting at home.

I was eventually directed to my seat. After the usual pleasantries the barber covered me in a single-use, transparent polyethylene cape and set to work. I asked for an extra short crop2 just in case the lockdowns kick in again. From here on, the act of getting the haircut wasn’t any different. Except perhaps for the extra manoeuvring the barber had to do behind the ears to account for the elastic bands of the face mask.

The price of the haircut has gone up by around 11%. Given the overheads of face masks (for customers and workers), hand sanitiser, disposable capes and additional workstation sanitisation protocols I think this is well justified. I was extra generous with my tip - for this was at least four haircuts rolled into one.

  1. I had long abandoned the ambition of a ponytail. Just like past attempts at growing a beard, it’s the middle phase (the equivalent of the restless teenage years in a human’s life) that’s irritating. Even Face ID on my iPhone had begun to have trouble coping with my shock of hair - it had grown noticeably sluggish and would fail altogether under challenging lighting conditions. Well, now it’ll be rendered useless by the face mask.

  2. The exact Dutch words I ended up using were Heel klein maar niet kaal” (very short but not bald!)

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