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Jerry Davich: Salon patrons let it all hang out

AndreBradford touches up her hair during work break Quick Cut Portage. | Jerry Davich~Sun-Times Media

Andrea Bradford touches up her hair during a work break at Quick Cut in Portage. | Jerry Davich~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 16, 2014 6:26AM



The middle-aged motor-mouth barely took a breath while getting her hair styled at the beauty salon.

She blabbed about her lazy husband, her health woes, her favorite TV shows, her financial problems and even her elderly parents who cause her constant grief. Not directly to me, but loud enough so anybody within earshot could easily hear her.

I quietly looked around while getting my hair trimmed to see if anyone else noticed all the dirt she was dishing in public without a hint of filtering. But no even blinked, especially the younger woman who was cutting her hair.

That’s when I realized that priests, bartenders and waitresses are not the only professionals who get an earful from their regulars. Hairstylists, barbers and spa workers get told way too much from their chatty clients, some on a monthly basis.

On Monday, I broached this topic where I get my haircuts, Quick Cut in Portage, and the women who work there knew instantly what I was talking about.

“People tell their hairdressers a lot, maybe too much,” explained hairdresser Andrea Bradford, in between clients. “I don’t know what they’re thinking. Sometimes, I feel like we should have been given psychology classes or something.”

Another hairdresser piped in: “They say we’re the cheapest psychologists around.”

No doubt, it costs only $12 there for a standard haircut and a bonus therapy session. Hair salons, I learned, often serve as a churchly confessional booth, though without any curtains, penance or privacy.

“They need to tell somebody, so they tell us,” Bradford told me while I got my hair cut from Anna, my longtime stylist. (By the way, happy birthday, Anna!)

Another worker noted, “Most of the time, we have nothing to do with what they say, so they feel they’re not being judged by us or anything.”

Bradford added, “Some people just need to vent and so they do it here to us.”

Another stylist added, “And some men are worse than women at gossiping. Plus, they come in every eight days or so for a trim. That’s a lot of gossiping.”

It gets even more revealing when clients have been drinking and the societal filter of sobriety has no bearing on their abrasive words, true feelings or heated opinions.

“Our guests tell us all kinds of weird things — family secrets, gossip, female problems, things their kids do, things their friends’ kids do,” said Michelle Snider, senior district leader for Fiesta Salons in Lowell, Valparaiso and Chesterton.

“A guest was telling me the other day that you don’t know people anymore,” said Snider, who also oversees Supercuts in Crown Point and SmartStyle in Merrillville. “He mentioned that he could be a nudist and no one would ever know.”

“One guest recently let his stylist know about the recreational drugs he abused over the weekend,” she said.

Judy Buncich, a senior citizen client from Hobart, confessed that she feels less inhibited after she removes her eyeglasses during a hair appointment. This way, she can’t quite see exactly who’s in the hair salon and who’s listening to her chatter.

“It works for me,” she told me.

On the flip side, some clients also get an earful of “TMI” from their chatty stylists who feel they have the perfect opportunity to belch out their life story ad nauseam. This was told to me by a female guest at my Tuesday presentation at the Maria Reiner Center in Hobart.

“The hairstylist knows you’re kind of stuck, so they just keep talking whether you care or not,” she said as other women nodded in approval.

After that presentation, an older man whispered to me that his wife is “the absolute worst” at making such confessions during her hair appointments.

“I used to go with her to those appointments but not anymore,” he quipped. “She never stops yapping about all kinds of things, sometimes about me.”

Public opinion on HJR-3

My Monday column on the Indiana General Assembly’s vote to advance House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR-3) polarized readers as I expected. The proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution would essentially protect the state’s existing ban on gay marriage while putting this issue on the ballot in November to be approved or rejected by Hoosier voters.

“Interesting article, although it was one sided,” wrote Gregory N. of Crown Point. “Why can’t the same philosophy be used and say that those who support gay marriage should not force their lifestyle on the entire population of Indiana? Are you agreeing with Mr. Ellis that it’s alright for the gay community to push their agenda, but the other side has no right to voice their opposition? I would hope not.”

This counterpoint always intrigues me because I don’t see how the gay community is “forcing their lifestyle” on me or other Hoosiers. They simply want equal rights, not for me to adopt a homosexual lifestyle.

Ruth Crawford of Hobart agrees, noting, “I am not gay, but a 75-year-old female who thinks who we love is not the state’s business.”

“I never thought I would be ashamed to be a lifelong Hoosier but this latest bill by our legislature does it. Everyone is entitled to a loving committed relationship protected by law. I don’t care what color, race, gender or whatever you are. When is this state going to come out of the dark ages and start worrying about education, jobs and health instead of who someone loves?”

Several other readers echoed the voice mail of this man, who supports HJR-3: “I say we let REAL Hoosiers vote on this issue and then we’ll show the rest of the country where we stand as a state.”

Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m afraid of.



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