The Wrong Lane

As usual, while driving home today, I stayed in the far right lane heading over the causeway from Davis into Sacramento. As usual I passed literally dozens of cars in the two “faster” lanes, but no matter how many cars I passed, not a single car moved over into the right lane to follow me. In fact, the reason the right lane tends to move faster is because at least two-thirds of the cars in the right lane move over into the left lanes as quickly as they can after getting on the freeway. After all, they’re the “faster” lanes, no? It says quite a bit about the mindset of most of the people wandering around trying to make their way through our world these days. No matter what the truth might be, or no matter how many times somebody tries to explain something to them, they will insist that their way is the “right” way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of left lanes that I travel in my path through the days, but I do at least try to see the fallacy of many of the choices I make. It’s taken me many years to change some habits in my life, even when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the choice I’m making isn’t the correct, or even easiest path I could choose.
I’ve come across this scenario many times over the years. I get to talk to quite a number of people throughout my workdays. I hear (or at least try to hear) the stories of countless clients. I try to listen without judgement (though quite frankly I’m only human), but again and again I’m astonished at the people who refuse to see the path they are on is possibly the hardest, and many times maybe even the unhealthiest one they could take. Wives who can’t imagine their life without the abusive husband. Students who are letting their parents dictate the major in school they should take. A daughter who lives with her “controlling” mother even while insisting that she has no choice in the matter. The stories could fill a book…maybe someday they will.
In my years of teaching color I’ve discovered again and again that stylists will be so set in their ways that they can’t see how much better a new system can be. Over and over again I have tried to preach the benefits of gentler products, and easier, more repeatable techniques. Over and over again I will try to remind somebody that a blow torch is not necessary when a match will do, only to have them say they can’t imagine that what I am proposing will work. Believe me, I make a lot of money doing what I do because it does in fact work. Many times “experts” in my field will recommend a service that is much more complex, because you can charge more! You can increase your “ticket”, a euphemism that makes me gag whenever I hear it. Sure, you can increase your charge for that one service, but can you repeat the process when that client returns? Can you continue to offer that service over a long-term relationship with that client, or is that process simply going to get you more problems down the line with a degradation in the hair quality. Will adding foils to a service to offer “dimension” serve you in the long run, or could you do it by alternating the color in your touch-up and *gasp* not charge them more? I read an article yesterday that mentioned the fact the at some point in your highlighting of a client’s hair it will be inevitable that you will have to add lowlights. What?? I almost never have to add lowlights to a client’s color unless we have decided to take it down a level, and even then I’m going to do it in such a way that it will maintain the hair’s integrity. For instance using a demi–permanent color so that it has more of a chance of holding over the long-term instead of using a permanent color which will just add another level of damage to already stressed hair. When I recommend a product such as a shampoo, conditioner, or gel, I tend to gravitate to the less expensive of the products. Sure, I could sell them a higher priced product, but how much more will they trust me if I guide them to the perfectly good product for $10 instead of going for the similar product that costs $20 or more? I can assure you, when I sell a client a product, they know for a fact that any product I’m going to sell them in the future is a product they can trust, and I’m a person they can trust to ask.
Again, I’ll say that I’m sure there are points in my life where I move over into the “fast lane” without even realizing what I’m doing, but I like to think that if somebody points out the futility of my situation I will at least take a hard look at it and ask myself why I’m doing it. How about you, how many times do you move over into the fast lane without even checking to see if you’re really passing the guy in the “slow lane”?