Close shave taught me cheap is expensive

Nothing beats the tried and tested, as I learned from visits to barber

In Summary

• Nobody wants to be a guinea pig to an amateur trying to gain some experience

Image: OZONE

Experience is a great teacher, or so it is said. It is also held to be true, in some quarters, that because of experience, certain aspects of life can be improved the second time around.

On the other hand, I believe it was Albert Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Also, there are the other people, myself included, who say cheap is expensive, but the years have taught me that I don’t always take my own advice. 

I’ll give you a recent example from my own life. As a result of being in Kenya for a long-ish period, I have been forced to change barbers.

Now, from the caricature drawn of me here, you may not think I have much hair left to take me to the barbershop, but as the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes said: Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Anyway, after more than 25 years of having the few hairs left on my head shorn by barbers using a cut-throat razor, I should know that experience is the name of the game.

When you are letting another person take a sharp object to your head, face (for the moustache) and throat (the goatee), you had better invest in someone who looks like they have been doing the job long enough to have gained the very particular and precise skills needed to leave you unscathed.

During my time here, I’ve been patronising a particular barber shop in Diamond Plaza, where I found a man of experience and skill who did a decent job shaving me.

However, Diamond Plaza (DP) is a very long Uber ride from where I am staying, and after coming across a barber in a shop closer to my current digs who offers the same service, I thought with my M-Pesa wallet and not the thing encased in my skull.

The new barber was pleasant and claimed to have experience, and so despite his seeming a little young, I decided to let him shave me. And the first time, he did a good job, thus convincing me he was up to it.

In between, I returned to my DP guy as I happened to be in the neighbourhood, only to find he had raised his prices to match the new barber I had visited, thus making him even less attractive to my wallet if I weighed the extra cost of transport.

So this weekend I returned to the young pretender, and while he started off really well, the kijana managed to nick me twice in quick succession, making me rethink the price of an Uber to my experienced mzee at the DP, and remind myself just how expensive cheap can be.

Those from the 'second chances' brigade might chirp up here and say that I should give the young fellow another try and help him gain some more experience.

While I appreciate where they are coming from with this sort of thinking, I am too old to be a guinea pig. But they are free to take my place in the barber’s chair, if they feel so strongly about it.

Of course, if I was wealthy enough to have money to burn, and vain enough to want to regrow my hair and thus avoid the dangers of a person holding a cut-throat razor to my head ever again, I would opt for a hair transplant.

I believe this treatment is available in Kenya nowadays and costs in the neighbourhood of Sh350,000, “depending on the clinic, the type of procedure and the number of grafts needed”.

But can you imagine the shock to people who have known me since I went bald suddenly coming across me with hair? I know I would walk right past myself, perhaps thinking only that the person looked familiar.

Image: OZONE
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