The line was long. I nearly turned around and went home, but my wife gave me a gentle nudge. "You said you wanted a haircut and a beard trim," she said. "We're here now. You might as well get it done."
Like many people, I let my grooming go a bit during the lengthy Sydney lockdown. I'm not a stylish bloke. I reckon the haircuts my wife gives me with the clippers are good enough. I usually trim my beard myself. But lockdown was a bit different.
I got dressed in business attire each morning and tried to maintain the 'work' routine when the lockdown started. After a week or two, the comfy jumper and tracksuit pants came out and then the beard started to grow. I got plenty of work done from home. I got used to it, so I didn't fight it. A challenge from my darling wife helped. "You should grow a big bushranger or Santa beard," she said. "I will if that's what you'd like. I won't shave or have a haircut until lockdown ends," I said. That's what happened.
As the weeks went by, the journalists in my crew and my boss all noticed I was getting somewhat hairier, they all encouraged it and many light-hearted moments were had. Who knew a big bushy beard could cause so much enjoyment, it grew and grew.
My hair and especially my beard developed a personality. It had grown so thick and curly. My new nickname was 'Bad Santa'. I loved it, even though I said it was going as soon as lockdown ended.
The actual moment I knew the beard had to be trimmed was in a daily news meeting. A member of my team came back from a couple of weeks annual leave. As we were all logging on for the meeting and my face appeared on the video screen, he recoiled with shock and let fly with an exclamation I won't repeat here. The team laughed, I did too, but it was such an honest appraisal I knew the beard and extra hair had to go when lockdown ended.
That day came. With going back to the office and eventually getting out and about and meeting people as a representative of ACM, I knew that I had to be well presented. I couldn't look like Tom Hanks from Castaway, even though my boss cheekily suggested if I upped my sartorial elegance, I could probably get away with it. I just knew I couldn't. So to the barber, I went.
It seems I wasn't alone. Blokes old and young, in business attire and in hi-vis vests were in the line, all with the same goal as me. To tidy ourselves up a bit. A quick look at the crowded hairdressers across the way from the barber confirmed this desire to 'tidy up a bit' was not exclusive to blokes.
The barber I went to was good. He was fast, cheery and happy to answer my pesky questions.
I'll leave you with his words because I reckon they are worth repeating.
"Everyone is in the mood for a tidy up and to rejoin the world," he said.
"I know barbers and hairdressers are going to be rushed because we will try and fit in many months' worth of clients in as short a time as possible. I like it when clients like you ask for simple things. The ones that want us to do big radical look changes for them will be a bit of trouble.
"It's probably the worst time to ask for something like that because hairdressers and barbers are going to be working long hours, today I'll do a 15-hour shift, and it looks like being that way for the next month.
"So, be kind to your barber and hairdresser and be patient. You'll feel better for it and so will we."
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