I had my hair cut today, at a hairdressing school. It was really interesting watching what was going on around me and seeing more of how things work. Which was good, because my hairdresser was very slow and careful and I was there for 3 hours! Some stories:
- It was interesting watching my hairdresser – I’ll call him J – practicing the physical skills of hairdressing. I did a quick wikipedia search to find the proper terms… As he was cutting my hair it was easier than normal to see the steps that he followed to achieve my haircut – the separation of the hair into segments, the selection of a segment, combing it out in a particular direction, angle the fingers like this, angle the hair like this, then cut. An experienced hairdresser would do it so smoothly and automatically that it would be hard to see exactly what they were doing – they’ve achieved the autonomic (automatic, no thinking necessary) stage of psychomotor learning, J was still working on the cognitive (thinking about each movement) stage. He also dropped his comb about half a dozen times, usually while flicking it around to use the other end. Here was probably in the middle, associative stage – starting to happen without thinking, but not yet perfected.
- At one point one of the students came up to the instructors with the news that “my lady’s fallen asleep!”. I didn’t hear most of the resulting discussion, but it ended with one of the instructors saying “well done!” as the student headed back to her sleepy client – presumably a compliment to the student’s gentle work (I don’t know if she was washing or cutting or drying or doing foils or what. I suspect it might have been washing).
- After two hours of sitting very still for careful haircutting, the neck and shoulders start complaining. Hanging feet are also surprisingly uncomfortable – I was also quite desperate for a foot rest. At one point I pulled my legs up and sat cross-legged for a while, but then I got pins and needles and had to let them hang down again.
- I could see my reflection four layers down in the mirrors, but not inbetween. Unfortunately I was in the middle of the room with separate mirrors at each seat – the wall had mirrors all along. I would have been able to see a lot more of the rest of the room if I’d been sitting on the other side.
- Almost all the students wore the standard hairdresser’s outfit of mostly black. Just a few of them wore colours, but it was enough to make me suspect that it wasn’t a uniform. All of them had fairly elaborate hair.
- There are worse ways to spend three hours in the afternoon, and I got a free haircut.