I’m pretty good at small talk. I hate awkward silences and enjoy asking questions, so usually this combo can garner me a few minutes of (non-weather related) small talk. Then I can end the conversation with a smile and a ‘See ya’ and move on.
However, there are some situations when the small talk needs to be stretched. And, as we all know, stretching small talk can be just as uncomfortable as attempting to zip up your high school jeans.
For example, you may have decided to split gas and drive home with an acquaintance. Which is even more awkward than driving with a stranger. You already know the basics about your car buddy, and don’t want to delve into personal details. So you’re limited about talking about your friends of friends, which eventually turns into gossip, or even worse, you revealing too much about your personal life in order to avoid the dreaded awkward silence.
You also need some skilled small talk to get through first dates. But at least we have former experience or friends to prep us through that. Or, at the very least, a magazine article that gives such unrealistic that it makes us laugh.
But there’s one situation that’s more awkward than both of the previous, and we all have to go through it. We may be able to pay more at the pump or opt to watch marathons of “The Office” in order to avoid either of the aforementioned. But there’s no way to skip the salon.
Small talk only bides you a few minutes—it’s nearly impossible to disect the weather, after all. There’s a reason why Al Roker only gets a few minutes of air time. Hair cuts last at least 20. Which leaves you the choice: Do you remain silent, or stretch that small talk? Either is incredibly awkward.
Even worse than a haircut? You choose to get highlights. I got my hair highlighted yesterday, and it took approximately 4 hours. 4 hours! With one person. Think about it: How often have you had a four-hour conversation with no rest? You can’t exactly pretend you have a prior commitment or fake a stomachache. You paid to be there, and you can’t exactly go home with a half-striped head.
Of course, as the client you don’t have to be the only one to make conversation. The problem? Some hairdressers are entirely incapable of small talk. Personally, I think a little session—or even a full semester-long—on “Small Talk” should be required for hairdressers.
Luckily, my hairdresser yesterday was adept in this area. A bit too adept, perhaps. She told me about how she got pregnant at 16, had a boyfriend that doesn’t pay child support, another husband who was abusive and got two former teachers to pay his medical bills and accused her of drug use but then, in an odd twist of fate, turned out to be tested positively for steriod use himself…I pretty much learned her life story. Oh, and that she had a nose job.