On October 4th, 2012, I attempted to get a haircut here in Hannover, Germany. I was long overdue for a good shearing, and I wanted to clean up a little because we were about to see my wife’s entire family to celebrate her father’s birthday. I chose a place called ‘Fast Cuts,’ which appeared to be the German version of Supercuts. Anyway, none of the hair stylists at Fast Cuts spoke English and my wife could not translate for me because she was at work, so I did what any red-blooded American male would do; I swaggered into that chop shop like I owned the place and got my hair did.
Here’s how the conversation between me and the tattooed hair stylist girl went, if you were to translate everything directly into English:
ME: “Good day to you. I understand very little German.”
ME: “I would gladly take a hair… a hair… a hair slice. Shit.”
STYLIST: “Yes. Would you like to hang up your coat?”
ME: “Oh. You said ‘coat.’ Yes. Perfect. Thank you very much.”
STYLIST: “How would you like your hair cut today?”
ME: “I have no idea what you are saying to me right now. Please, a half of one millimeter over, and then five millimeters to the left, to the right, and behind.”
ME: “Centimeter. Dammit! I meant one half of one centimeter over.”
STYLIST: “We have attachments for 12, 8, 6 and 3 millimeters.”
ME: “Three. Three is perfect. I don’t know.”
STYLIST: “Wow. Okay.”
ME: “And please, make it very boring up high. Right here.”
STYLIST: “Faded? Near the top?”
ME: “Yes. Awesome. Perfect. Thank you very much.”
STYLIST: “Do you want me to use the electronic hair clipper?”
ME: “Yes. Everything.”
15 minutes later I was staring into the mirror, dazed and confused, getting to know my brand-new buzz cut. Let me tell you, this mother was short. I paid the girl, tipped her a Euro for some reason, then stumbled out of Fast Cuts a few inches shorter than when I arrived.
The first thing I said to my in-laws when I greeted them two days later was, “Hello. Good night, isn’t it? I am sorry for my skull. I know I am not a skinhead.”
Click here to learn more about the term “Culture Shock.”
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