Sure, hair salons cut hair, but they do so much more. More than what I’d ever need.
Most of the people doing the cutting aren’t even called barbers anymore – they’re hair stylists or hairdressers. Thankfully, the military bases still have barber shops on them. The places outside of the military bases where I got my hair cut before 1997 don’t even exist anymore.
When I was stationed here from 1992 to 1996, I got my hair cut by an old guy at a barber shop on 7th Street and Thomas Road. He was an Italian immigrant and a World War II veteran and while there were other barbers in the shop, I liked the things he talked about when he cut my hair. He passed away after I retired in 1998.
I don’t know where any barber shops exist outside of Luke Air Force Base. That’s where I get my hair cut now, but not very often – I’m getting a haircut this weekend. When I tell one of the barbers there I want a Marine Corps haircut, I usually have to explain it, but not always. If I specify a short, military haircut, I usually get the kind of haircut I want.
I experienced “sticker shock” the first time after returning to the United States in July of 2013. Haircuts were almost $10.00, at least twice as much as they cost before I left in 2006. That’s still inexpensive compared to how much the hair salons in the city charge for a simple haircut.
When I moved to the Philippines in 2006, I was pleasantly surprised that traditional barber shops still existed in Olongapo City. I know for a fact that at least two are still open. I get my hair cut at the one next to a foreign money exchange on Rizal Avenue (or it could be on Magsaysay Drive, but I’m not there now and my memory isn’t what it used to be).
The only thing I don’t like about haircuts in Olongapo is that the barbers insist on giving a neck massage when they’re done. It was like that when I was stationed on Okinawa from 1987 to 1988 as well, except that those were Japanese barbers instead of Filipino.
The last time I got a haircut in Olongapo, the price was 50 pesos. Including the tip I always gave, I spent no more than 100 pesos (which is just a little over two United States dollars). If it’s higher when I return to the Philippines, it’ll still be cheaper than any place here in Phoenix.
I know people who are too cheap to pay for haircuts no matter how low the prices are. They’ll cut their own hair (usually by shaving their heads) or have a friend do it for them. The only thing they usually invest in are hair clippers and scissors (barber shears).
I don’t know about anyone else, but I prefer leaving the haircuts to the professionals – barbers who work inside barber shops. If I can get cheap haircuts, that’s great. If not, oh well. I’d rather spend a little extra than having to resort to getting my head shaved again – something I didn’t have a choice about when I joined the Marine Corps in 1978.
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