The Wisdom of a $12 Haircut

Posted: Oct 08, 2011 12:01 AM

Periodically, when I want to really understand the mood of America, I return to my home town of Clifton Springs, NY, and get a haircut from my old barber, Frankie D. 

His is a barbershop from the old days with two antique barber chairs, a cramped waiting area filled with old magazines, and always a ballgame on the television. 

The smell of Old Spice and Noxzema shaving cream combined with the heavy aroma of talcum powder takes me back to another era, and is definitely worth the price of a $12 haircut. 

No fancy hairstyle, no salon treatment, no bells or whistles, just a good old-fashioned haircut. 

Along with a cut, you get the unique views and opinions of Frankie D., along with his 80 years of visionary wisdom.  I asked him about the unfortunate recent death of Steve Jobs, and how Jobs impacted Frankie D’s life. 

Frankie doesn’t own a cell phone, nor an iPod or an iPad, but he does own an old-time Mac that he purchased many years ago. 

“Pretty good,” he said, “but it’s currently unplugged.” 

Frankie added, “Jobs was like another Thomas Edison, but a better marketer.  Jobs learned his craft from P.T. Barnum.” 

“Huh,” I exclaimed. 

“Sure,” he said, “He’s just like that guy from Starbucks.  He gets people hooked, and then they believe they can’t live without their Starbucks fix.” 

Not waiting for me to comment, Frankie launched into a soliloquy on how the American public, and in fact the world, is hooked on caffeine and sugar, which are the two main ingredients that are so important for Starbuck’s special formula of success. 

He took a breather long enough for me to interject a quick question. 

“But how about the free Wi-Fi, the music, all the other goodies, along with the cultural experience,” I asked. 

“It’s simple,” Frankie replied, “P. T Barnum, it’s all marketing, it’s just caffeine and sugar.” 

He added, “That Jobs guy, he produced some really great products.” 

Once again I snuck in a quick query, “But why do people always need his next upgrade if it’s all just marketing, iPhone5, iPad2, iPod6, or whatever?” 

“Are you kidding me,” Frankie D. ranted, “He had them hooked, just like that Starbuck’s guy – caffeine and sugar.”

“Well,” I said, “You’ve got to give both guys credit; don’t you think they were both very successful as people kept returning to their products?”

“Absolutely,” Frankie D. replied.  “If you get em hooked, they always come back, P. T Barnum at its finest.” 

He went on, “After all, you came back for a haircut, didn’t ya? That’ll be 12 bucks.” 

The memories were great, the perspective interesting, and the haircut, oh well, it’ll grow back.