LAPSE IN JUDGMENT by Shearingly
I was driving along in my car thinking about what I had just read and seen while on line checking out my newsgroups – a.s.f.h. and a.b.p.e.f.h. I wondered if I would ever have the chance to give a pretty female a dramatic haircut. I could almost feel the silky strands of hair between my fingers and hear the sound of scissors crisply snapping closed or the insect-like buzzing of electric clippers severing a woman’s glory from her head. I thought of the bag of hair cutting tools I had in the trunk of my car. Tools that I had put there several months ago with no certain knowledge that I would ever use them.
Driving through an unpopulated wooded area, I noticed a car zooming up behind me. The driver seemed to be in a big hurry, edging to the left like she wanted to pass me, but then changing her mind and pulling back behind me. In my rearview mirror I saw that it was two females, one older and one younger, in the car. The younger one was driving – she was laughing and talking, not taking her driving seriously at all. I decided that at the first opportunity I would pull over to the side and let them pass. I noticed a turn off fifty yards up ahead where I could pull over. Just as I made up my mind to do so I heard a loud crunch and felt my car jerk to the right. I looked back and there was this other car trying to pass, but she had cut too close and clipped my left rear quarter panel. By then we were up to the turn off so I pulled in and stopped my car.
The car behind me followed me off the road and stopped also. I got out of my car and walked back to the one behind. When I got close I could see them clearly. All teenagers look like children to me anymore but the driver didn’t look anywhere near sixteen. That was the first thing I noticed. The second was that both of them were very pretty with beautiful long hair. I didn’t have time right then to follow that train of thought.
I leaned down and looked in the window and asked them if they were all right. Their faces were pasty white and their hands were shaking, but they were both wearing seat belts and assured me they were O.K. I looked around and didn’t see any scrapes or blood, so I took them at their word. I then explained to them patiently (since they look so shook up) that I would need a drivers license, car registration and insurance information. I told them I would copy the information down and send it to my insurance company to get my car repaired.
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The older one burst into tears, the younger one (who was behind the wheel) looked terrified. “Calm down, ladies,” I said. “We can do this quickly and I’m sure your car is still drivable then we can be on our way. Please get out the documents I need.”
After some more sobbing the driver blurted out, “I’m so sorry, Mister. It was all my fault. I shouldn’t have tried to pass you there where the road was so narrow. But the problem is I don’t have a license.”
I was stunned. What do I do now, I wondered. The woman spoke up. “My name is Alice and this is my daughter, Tricia. She is only fourteen but has been begging me to let her drive the car sometime. I thought on this road there wouldn’t be any traffic and she could drive without hurting anything. I know it was a stupid thing to do but I didn’t think anything would happen.” She continued, “to make things worse, this isn’t my car it’s a company car. I have been in a few minor fender benders with it and the boss told me if anything else happens he will have to let me go. He said he wouldn’t be able to afford the increase in insurance premiums.”
She went on, “If you report this to the police I could get arrested for letting my daughter drive the car and my boss would surely fire me for getting the company car involved in an accident without a licensed driver.” Her voice trailed away in a sob.
I gave them a moment to collect themselves and looked at the vehicles. Surprisingly enough, there was no damage to their car. Her bumper had hit my car, but it was such a glancing blow there was no damage to their car at all (neither one of us was going very fast). My car was a different story. There was a significant dent in the side but I knew it looked worse than it was. That kind of dent was relatively easy to fix. The germ of an idea was forming in my mind.
I went back to the two “perps” who were still sniffling. “Why don’t you get out of your car and let’s look at the damage,” I told them. They did. My pulse quickened when I saw them. They were both pretty enough to be models. Alice, the mother, wore a short, tight, denim skirt and a sleeveless top that left a few inches of tanned midriff showing. Her gorgeous hair was long. She had it loose around her head and when she turned around I saw it hung all the way to the waistband of her skirt. It was chestnut brown, thick and shiny. She had curled it so the last eighteen inches or so were smooth waves. WOW! Tricia’s was lighter – blond, with some reddish highlights in it. Hers was almost as long as her mother’s but she had pulled it back into a loose ponytail held with a scrunchy at the base of her neck. She was some kind of cheerleader or pom pom girl because she was wearing one of those short pleated skirts and sleeveless sweaters that make up a cheerleader outfit.
The two looked at their car and I saw a hopeful glint in their eyes when they couldn’t find any evidence of damage. Then they looked at my car and burst into tears again. They stood together holding each other in a tight hug and crying. Tricia kept saying, “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m so sorry.”
“Ladies, we need to get this settled. You need to give me whatever information you have so I can turn it into your insurance company to get my car fixed. I’m sorry about your predicament, but that’s the price you have to pay for acting without thinking.” They blubbered and cried some more.
“We’re really sorry, Mister.” Alice spoke up. “I’m sure I’ll lose my job if you report this. Is there any other way you can think of to take care of this?”
Tricia looked up hopefully, “Is there, sir? We’ll do anything you say if we don’t have to tell my mom’s boss.”
“If I report it to my insurance company they will need to know whose car hit mine. But I can’t leave my car looking like this so there has to be a way to pay for the work to get done. A body shop could probably fix this for about eight hundred dollars (I was guessing, but a friend had some similar damage a month ago and that is what it cost him). If you can give me $800.00 right now then I’d just forget about it.”
It was funny to see their hopes dashed. They looked at each other and sobbed. “We don’t have that kind of money, sir,” Alice said in a broken voice. “We have about eighteen dollars between us.”
“Do you have anything with you that is worth eight hundred dollars?” I asked them. They just shook their heads sadly (making that pretty hair dance around their faces).
Well they say opportunity only knocks once, so I thought I’d go for it. At first, I shook my head like I couldn’t think of any other way, then I snapped my fingers and said, “Wait a minute. I have an idea.” They looked at me eagerly, pathetically eager, I’d say.
“I’m a salesman for a company that supplies barber shops and beauty salons.” I told them, “I know a guy that buys long hair and makes wigs out of it. He told me just last week that he would give me $450.00 for any complete head of hair that was longer than 20 inches. You both have long hair, so you do have something that is worth more than $800.00. In fact, you can sell me your hair right now, for both of you it would be a total of nine hundred dollars. That’s more than I think I need to fix the car so I’ll give you the extra one hundred dollars. I’ll get enough to fix my car, you’ll go home without your boss knowing about the mishap and you’ll be a hundred dollars richer.”
The two huddled closer and whispered. It looked to me like Alice was trying to convince Tricia to go along with it. She could picture herself going to jail or having Tricia taken away and put into a foster home. Finally Tricia nodded her head.
“How will we cut our hair?” Alice asked as she turned to me.
I realized that I hadn’t taken a breath for two minutes. I sucked in a great lungful of air and said, “That’s no problem. I’ll cut your hair for you. I told you I sell barber supplies so everything I need is in my trunk.” I wanted them to know right away who was going to do the cutting.
I opened the trunk of my car and not only had the bag of haircutting tools, but I also had a couple of folding camp stools. I took them out and the bag and then carried them to a little clearing in the woods. I set up the stools and told them to sit down. They did – with less resistance than I thought there’d be.
I decided to do Alice first – when Tricia saw her mother co-operate she would be more willing to follow. I handed her a paper sack and said, “Hold this. When I cut off your hair we’ll put it inside here so I can sell it.” I got out my scissors and lifted up a lock of her thick chestnut hair, one from the top edge of her forehead. Laying the scissors against her scalp I closed them and sheared if off. I dropped it in the bag. Alice watched the tress slither into the bottom of the bag and coil up like a snake. She shivered and began to cry again. “I’ve had long hair all my life. What am I going to tell all my friends, and my boss?”
“That will be easier than telling him about your accident and the fact that you let your 14 year old daughter drive the company car.” I reminded her of why we were doing this. The next few snips cleared a two-inch wide swath back from her forehead. It looked funny to me standing above her, but she hadn’t seen it yet. I was sure it wouldn’t be funny to her. I kept snipping away until the hair on top of her head was short. Because I was using scissors it was all choppy and uneven. She put her hand up to feel the silky short remains and shuddered again. Then I pulled out my brand new set of cordless clippers. I told her that if she went away with it looking like an animal chewed off her hair she would have more trouble explaining than if it was smooth and even all around her head. She was almost in shock and agreed with what I was saying.
I turned on the clippers and zoomed around the top of her head smoothing out the uneven patches. I had the shortest guard on, so it left an eighth of an inch crewcut. She still had long hair hanging down the sides and back. I pushed her chin down onto her chest and lifted up the hair in the back. Starting at the nape of her neck I ran the clippers straight up to meet the already shorn top. Clumps of severed hair fell into my hand. I caught what I could and put it all in the bag she was still holding. It didn’t take long to finish her up using the clippers.
When I was finished with Alice I turned to Tricia. She had buried her head in her arms, covering her eyes so she couldn’t see. I touched her shoulder and said, “Tricia, it’s your turn now.” She sat up and opened her eyes. The shriek she let out would wake the dead. “Oh, Mom,” she sobbed over and over. Alice rubbed her hands over her stubbly scalp.
Tricia said, “I can’t do that. Please don’t cut my hair like you did Mom’s!”
“Well,” I said, “that means I only have $450.00 for your Mom’s hair. That means I still need $350.00 or I’ll have to turn it into your insurance company.
“You can’t do that now,” Alice exclaimed. “That would mean I’ve cut my hair for nothing! Tricia, you shut up right now and let him cut your hair.”
Tricia blubbered some more, but finally nodded her head, “O.K.” she whispered quietly, “go ahead.”
I stood behind her and pulled the scrunchy from her hair. Hers was just as soft and shiny as her mother’s. She hadn’t curled it so it hung long and straight nearly to her waist. I didn’t mess with the scissors. The feel of the clippers was much more exciting to me. I stood in front of her and brought the buzzing clippers right to her forehead. The first swath revealed a neat white path of scalp. She had said she didn’t want it to look like her mom’s, so I had removed the blade guard. This was as close as the clippers could get, right next to the scalp. The only way to get it any shorter would be with a razor blade. Another swipe and then another widened the bald spot on the top of her head. Soon I had worked my way down her left side and around her ear. Most of the hair we caught and dropped in a second paper sack Alice was holding. If any strands fell to the ground, Alice quickly picked them up. I buzzed off the right side then moved around to the back. All this thick hair tumbling down was making me weak in the knees. I hoped I could hold out until the job was done. I finished up the back of her head and then stepped back. “Is that satisfactory?” I needled her a little.
Tricia rubbed her scalp and let out a yelp. “I’m bald. There’s nothing left!” Alice and her daughter went into each other’s arms again but this time their hands were rubbing each other’s stubble. “What are we going to tell everybody?” they asked each other.
I took two fifty dollar bills out of my wallet and handed them to Alice. “Now, share this with your daughter,” I said, “and don’t spend it all in one place.” I walked out to my car (taking the bags of hair and the equipment with me) and drove away.
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