IVP - Strangely Dim - If I’m So Invisible, Why Do I Need a Haircut?

May 28, 2004

If I’m So Invisible, Why Do I Need a Haircut?

By David A. Zimmerman

I feel quite justified in my hatred of cell phone use. Now, before I go any further let me say that I do not feel any hatred toward cell-phone users, nor do I hate the phones themselves. Some of my favorite people—including my wife—own and regularly use cell phones, and the phones themselves have pretty neat features. If there were only cell phones and cell phone users I’d be quite content. But in between the two comes cell phone use.

My most recent experience as a cell phone casualty came during my monthly haircut. I sat down for some nice chit-chat and a little off the top and sides, but no sooner had the bib been tied around my neck than my hair-cutter-person’s cell phone rang.

Now, when a phone rings a person must make a decision: do I answer it? I take calls at my desk when I want a break from whatever task I’m working at, or when I want to end or pause a conversation with someone in my office; otherwise I let the call divert to voicemail. Accepting a phone call is effectively rejecting everything else. The question that supports that decision making process as such becomes, What impact would taking a call right now have on what I’m doing right now?

Let me preemptively answer this question for those of you in the hair-cutting professions: the impact would be pretty severe. Let’s just say that my current haircut is not my wife’s favorite, and no one has yet said to me, “Oh! I see you’ve had a haircut,” which presumably has allowed my friends to avoid the socially compulsory follow-up statement: “It looks very nice.”

My de-follicizer didn’t stop cutting my hair while she talked with someone who, I later learned, was her coworker. She stopped only briefly to wave as her colleague drove by and honked the car horn. They finished their conversation about the same time that she finished my haircut.

If instead of calling my hair-remover, her colleague had stopped in for a chat, I wonder, would either one have deferred the conversation till my hair was appropriately dealt with? Probably, but there’s something about that ring that suckers people into an inflated sense of self-importance. There’s something thrilling about being able to provide a potentially different answer every time you’re asked the first question in every cell phone conversation: “Where are you?”

Cell phones are great because they make your life as it’s occurring seem so important, so exotic. Yet the moment you answer your cell phone you take a time out from where you are and what you’re doing, even if you continue to stay there and do it. I did technically get my hair cut that day, but I did not have a satisfactory hair cutting experience. Maybe I should have had a cell phone with me so I could tell my friends, “Oh, I’m just sitting here getting a haircut.”

After all, that’s all I’m really looking for out of a haircut—a chance to be the center of someone’s attention.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at May 28, 2004 8:02 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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