Feel like you’re just a number? So does Stylist No. 3

It was time for a haircut, so I approached the counter of the Super Great Cost Cutter Clips, where the stylist stared at a computer.

“Phone number?” She mumbled.

I sort of looked around to see who she was talking to. It was me.

I was caught off guard, because this is not how one typically starts a conversation. I was expecting a “Welcome to Super Great Cost Cutter Clips!” or a “Hi! Thanks for coming in today!” I would have settled for a “What the hell do you want?”

But this is the kind of thing we’ve sort of gotten used to, haven’t we? The impersonal, unfriendly, you’re-not-important-enough-for eye-contact treatment.

“Phone number?”

I know, I know. I should just go along with it, and be normal like the rest of society. But I can’t help myself.

ME: Hi! Why yes, I’m doing great! Thank you for asking!

STYLIST (clueless): So your phone number?

ME: What about my phone number?

STYLIST: I need it.

ME: I’m sorry. Did I stumble into Verizon Wireless? Because I just want a haircut.

STYLIST: We need a number.

ME: To cut my hair?

STYLIST: Yeah.

ME: I don’t see the connection. It would be like if the guy at Subway can’t make my sandwich unless he knows my inseam.

STYLIST: The computer system says we need it.

ME: Do you need my email address if I want a shampoo? Is signing up for a Twitter account a prerequisite for getting highlights?

STYLIST: We just a need a number for the system.

ME: Are you going to call me or something?

STYLIST: We won’t ever call you.

ME: OK, then put in “1.”

STYLIST (typing): The system says it’s not a valid telephone number.

ME: Who cares if it’s not valid? I thought you weren’t going to ever call me?

STYLIST: Do you want a haircut or not?

ME: Fine. My phone number is 911.

STYLIST (typing): The system says that’s not a valid number either.

ME: But it is. Try calling it.

STYLIST: Trust me, I’m about to.

ME: What if I didn’t have a phone number?

STYLIST: You’re saying you don’t have a phone number?

ME: No, but what if?

STYLIST: Are you always this difficult?

ME: My wife seems to think so.

STYLIST: I’m not sure what would happen.

ME: Could you still give me a haircut?

STYLIST: I don’t think the system would allow it.

ME: But that’s discrimination! All the people who don’t own phones could get together and file a class-action lawsuit.

STYLIST: Not really.

ME: Why not?

STYLIST: Because if they didn’t have phones, how would their lawyers get ahold of them?

ME: Good point.

STYLIST: So are you going to give me a number or not?

ME: How about 555-5555.

STYLIST: That’s not your real number.

ME: And that’s not your real hair color or breasts. Can we move on now?

STYLIST: OK. Come on back, 555-5555.

ME: That’s pretty rude, don’t you think?

STYLIST: You’re right. I’m sorry.

ME: That’s better.

STYLIST: Come on back, Mr. 555-5555.

ME: So be honest. What’s with the phone number thing?

STYLIST: It allows us to keep track of repeat customers and ensures we know your exact preferences for future visits.

ME: You arrogant jerks presume to know how I want my hair cut today?

STYLIST: Well our system shows you’ve asked for the same style of cut every single time since 1988.

ME: I’ll just sit down now.

STYLIST: That’s a boy.

ME: This number system is sort of impersonal, isn’t it? What do your co-workers think of it?

STYLIST: Well 271-1670 thinks it’s great, but 494-5682 is not a fan.

ME: Well, personally I think your system stinks.

STYLIST: You’ve made that pretty clear. Now close your eyes and lean your head back.

ME: You’re going to butcher my hair on purpose, aren’t you?

STYLIST: Absolutely.

Reach Steve at beauregardsteve@ hotmail.com.


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