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Humor January 2014

Laverne's View

Lost in Communication

By Laverne Bardy

I knew I was in trouble when every hairdresser in the shop stopped by and said, “Great cut,” “You look fantastic,” or “I just  love  that style on you.” One hairdresser said, “It looks  fantastic  from the side,” to which I answered, “Yes, and if I were a sidewinder, that certainly would be a plus. Unfortunately, I almost always enter a room facing front.”

There are four basic forms of communication: verbal, non-verbal, written and visual, which leaves a world of room for interpretation.

In 1955, I took shorthand and even learned something called Speed Writing, which are both rapid, abbreviated forms of writing. I did this because, according to my father, it was important for me to learn how to take dictation, so I could secure a secretarial position when (not if, but when) my husband died. He said this as though my husband’s death was a prerequisite to me becoming a secretary.

I had no trouble taking dictation, but I wasn’t terrific at transcribing what I’d written. And that was fine with me. It meant I didn’t have to remain in my first marriage long enough for my husband to die, because I didn’t want to be a secretary – or a wife.

I took only one year of Spanish in high school and learned enough to order a margarita and find a bathroom in Mexico. Knowing more than that seemed superfluous.

Doctor Script is a written language – sometimes spoken, but only understood by other doctors, pharmacists and some lab technicians. Anyone else attempting to understand a written prescription is likely to experience profound eye strain and bewilderment. I never had any interest in learning to make sense of doctors’ prescriptions until last week, at Lab Corp, when technicians preparing to draw my blood couldn’t decipher whether my doctor’s codes meant he wanted my cholesterol levels or my PSA levels.

Hairdressers have their own language, which is taught in beautician school. It is in each woman’s best interest to know Hairdresser Language before entering a salon. It isn’t necessary to know the entire language; just a select few words could make a huge difference in the quality of her life.

For instance, every hairdresser knows what the word “trim” means, in Hairdresser Language. But, an unsuspecting woman who enters a salon with the intention of having just a teensy bit of hair snipped, does not realize that her  understanding of the word  trim  is different from that of her hairdresser. I learned this the hard way six weeks ago.

I sat in the hairdresser’s chair and said, “The length of my hair is fine, but I have an affair to attend tomorrow, so just clean it up a little.” Then I used the words I assumed were universal English. “Just trim it.” My hairdresser confirmed her understanding of my request by saying back to me, “Okay, just a trim.”

I felt no need to critique or analyze every snip-snip after that, although I admit I felt uneasy when she pulled out the electric razor and began buzz cutting around my ears – something no  hairdresser has ever done to me. But, hey, she knew what I wanted, and I knew she knew what I wanted. Not an issue.

OMG! She scalped me.

My head looked like it was covered with peach fuzz. I didn’t have enough of it to wrap around a curling iron. I’m convinced she is a descendant of the 1600 Apache tribe.

Another communication lesson taught in beautician school is: When a hairdresser screws up badly, it is her co-workers’ responsibility to jump in and lie their asses off.

I knew I was in trouble when every hairdresser in the shop stopped by and said, “Great cut,” “You look fantastic,” or “I just love  that style on you.” One hairdresser said, “It looks  fantastic  from the side,” to which I answered, “Yes, and if I were a sidewinder, that certainly would be a plus. Unfortunately, I almost always enter a room facing front.”

An excellent example of visual misinterpretation occurred when I confessed to my friend, Rochelle that every time I see an elderly couple walking arm in arm I become teary. “It’s so beautiful to see they are still in love after so many years,” I said.

Rochelle set me straight. “Love has nothing to do with it,” she said. “They’re holding each other up.”

I am now careful not to latch on to my husband’s arm when we walk. I want to make sure people know we really are in love.

 

Laverne's book, "How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old?" is available at amazon.com and other online bookstores. Website: www.lavernebardy.com - E-mail her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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