Originally Posted: 2005-04-26 4:10pm

favorite this post Where not to get a haircut in Chicago

Every couple years I break a hair tie and suddenly notice that the bun I’ve had on top of my head for the past ump-teen months is holding several inches of hair. Since it grows easily and well, I donate my inches of hair to Locks of Love instead of buying another 2-dollar pack of hair ties.

Previous to last Friday, I’d donated 36 inches of hair -- enough to make about one-half of a long-haired wig for a child who lost her hair to cancer. Since my hair tie again broke, I figured it was time to raise those 36 inches to something along the lines of 48 inches and go in for another snip.

I’ve always been a Supercuts kinda girl. My preferred haircut is straight-across, a little longer in the front, and without layers. I’d trust one of my dingbat friends to cut it, but the itch to cut hit me that Friday during the mid-afternoon, and I knew my friends were likely already at happy hour.

Along the lines of the rule “Don’t let a bald man cut your hair,” I wasn’t about to trust an untrained friend for even a quick snip if she’d been drinking Bud Lights since her government job let her leave at noon to enjoy the nice weather. She may make a great science advisor to the folks at the undisclosed agency she works for, but I’ve spent many weekend nights with her while drinking. If there’s barely, hops, or yeast on her breath, there’s no sharp-bladed scissors coming near my head.

So I called one girl friend with good hair for a recommendation. She slurred the name Stephanie with enough identifying elements that I was able to look up a salon near work. When I called, the receptionist informed me that Stephanie was booked for the rest of the day and that I could have a glass of wine with them on Monday and an appointment with her then.

With long, long hair and no hair tie, I knew this wouldn’t work. I didn’t take the appointment, knowing that there had to be some other option over the weekend.

I left work relatively early and started walking home when I came across Originals Hair Design on Wells between Randolph and Washington. Please refer back to the part where I said I was cool with a $15 Supercuts special. Combine that lack of pickiness because of the ease of my hair style, the lack of skill actually needed to cut it, and that there were decent-looking people in there getting their hair done too.

When I entered, the owner took me in. John seemed a little rushed as he moved through the evening’s crowd, but I didn’t think anything of it. He scrubbed my head quickly and brushed it out as if I allowed my nephew to do so.

John said he wanted to cut off a few inches to make everything nice and not broken. (Thanks, John. I assure you that nothing was broken before you started ripping at my hair like a banshee with a comb he won while playing skee-ball at Chuck E. Cheese.)

I explained to him that Locks of Love requires at least 10 inches for a donation, and we agreed that I could easily give 12 without looking like an ugly boy. I then tell him that I want it cut straight across, a little longer in the front than in the back, and without layers.

Apparently it was opposite day. Because though I asked for something along the lines of Cynthia Nixon (a la Miranda in Sex and the City), I got a Florence Henderson (a la Carol Brady of the Brady Bunch).

I was immediately horrified. This wasn’t ANYTHING suitable for a 25-year-old woman who (if I say so myself) isn’t too bad looking. I was given the same hair cut as my aunts, and I’m more than half their ages and have good hair. I immediately went to Sally Beauty Supply down the way to hear what actual people with fashion sense had to say.

The friendly cashier looked horrified. “It looks like fake layers in the back. You’ve got one layer about two inches from the top of your head and nothing until your neck.”

(P.S. Bless you stylish women at Sally Beauty Supply on Madison, near Wabash! You’re always wonderful!)

I thanked her, bought some headbands, and headed home to wash the crap out of my Brady mop and hope that it fell down and got happier once I got the curling brush fluff out of it.

No such luck.

Instead of looking like Carol Brady, I now looked like a cross between a bad Rachel (circa 1993) and the grunginess of a Kurt Cobain (also, oddly enough, circa 1993). This wasn’t going to work.

Having dealt with the general public in a post-high school job at a local grocery store, I know how to get a refund:

(1) Always keep your cool.

(2) Don’t embarrass or blame anyone.

(3) Be firm, but try to work with the person you must deal with.

The next morning I went back to Originals, and John greeted me, asking if I wanted him to shorten it some more. I waited out of the way of other customers until he was finished with his current client and she had paid. When he approached me stating that he would cut more off the back, I shook my head no, quietly stated that this wasn’t anything near what I asked for, and said that the only option was for him to give me my money back.

John suddenly flipped the fuck out and started screaming at me. Everyone in the salon came to a dead stop, only to see the salon’s owner going off on a client with ugly hair -- a client who was keeping her cool and obviously not there to cause a scene.

He demanded that I leave his salon while making this grandiose umpire gesture as if I’d been kicked out of the park.

I swear to each and every one of you that I kept my cool. I didn’t call him a donkey-licking ass wipe (although warranted), yell that he was an incompetent fuck who didn’t listen to his customers (although I was wearing the proof), or make any unreasonable demands (I could have asked for two free manicures in addition to my money back). He had broken the opposite (but similar) side of the customer service rules when a customer asks for a refund:

(1) Always keep your cool.

(2) Listen, then react rationally.

(3) Be firm, but try to work with the person you must deal with.

Instead, John lost his shit, acted like I threw poop on him, and walked into the back after his “you’re outta here” pantomime.

The customers in the chairs who were getting the hair cut by other stylists were obviously shocked. I stood there for a moment, trying to decide what to do. I made eye contact with each customer, gave them the “watch your back” stink eye, and left.

As I was calling my best friend in Texas to cry about what a mean, old asshole John was but how well I handled myself, one of the customers who had just finished up approached me, stated that the man was clearly a lunatic, assured me that I was rational and calm in my dealings, said that my hair looked like shit, and promised to never go back to John’s salon.

To sum up this Craig’s List posting, I warn you about John and his shoddy business handlings at Originals Hair Design. He’s a bastard who doesn’t deserve your business. If you’d like a great recommendation for hair cuts, Christy at Salon 1800 in Lincoln Park was able to rush me in and take what was left of my once-long locks into something a little Jennie Garth-ish.

And to make things even better, Visa has since disputed the charges for services not fully rendered at Originals Hair Design.

Sweet, sweet vindication.

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