I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is an copy of my article which appeared in the 1/27/12 edition – printed with permission.

YOU’LL NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST TIME 
Posted 1/27/12

I get a haircut once a month. A few years ago, I decided to try one of those “barbershops just for men” with the TVs on the wall and the girls in the short shorts.

My first experience at that place, as I recall, was nothing short of legendary. I was escorted by a buxom blonde in a tight t-shirt to a chair where I got a haircut and shoulder rub. Then I was taken to a dark room in the back where I received something called a “scalp massage.” I don’t think I’d ever had one before but I remember several things about that single experience: the experience was incredible, the experience was borderline erotic and the experience took a long amount of time.

I was sold. I was a customer. For life.

Over the course of the next several months, I continued to frequent that barbershop. And I continued to enjoy the “full service” experience that they give. But a couple of things began to break down. The hair stylists got a little less buxom. The clothing got a little more conservative. The quality of the haircut was a little more inconsistent. And the scalp massage got shorter, much less “appealing” and shorter.

One day, I went in there and noticed a 3-ring binder open to a page outlining to a stylist “how” to conduct the scalp massage. It outlined exactly how long it should take and what method should be done. I asked the girl styling my hair and she said they all had to study it and had to take tests on it.

I continued to be a customer of that shop for several more years, quietly hoping to have the same experience that I had my first time. It never happened.

Then, a couple of months ago, I noticed that a new barbershop opened just around the corner from my house. It also a nice reception area with lots of TVs and stylists in tight t-shirts and short shorts. The name on the front of the store was different, but it was clear that they were directly competing with the other barbershop, that had now clearly become a national chain.

So, I gave it a shot. The price was exactly the same and I expected the same quality of haircut I had grown to know, with the same half-hearted level of effort. I got the same haircut. I got the same shoulder rub and then I went to a darkly lit room for my scalp massage. What I experienced was even better than the best massage I got at the other place. I was in heaven. I was sold. I was a customer. For life. I think at one point I might’ve actually asked the girl to marry me.

Now, should I look at this as a glass half-full moment? Or should I look at it like a peak of service that will eventually deteriorate as the corporation looks to streamline, time-study and make their service more consistent?

One thing is for sure, you’ll never forget your first time…

(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he goes by @FakeNedYost. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)