Ultimately, I arrived at hb Salon - a spot that I had previously spotted while working nearby in the summer months. No longer was their thirty-five-dollar soft opening special in place, though the regular women's cut price of forty dollars wasn't terrible either.
The appointment had been booked two days prior, then changed to an earlier time slot due to previous arrangements. At precisely 10:00 AM, I marched up the creaky, wooden staircase; at the top was a door-less salon and several Korean ladies conversing between themselves. My arrival hadn't been met with the most pleasant of demeanours, but that changed for the better once I uttered the words, "I have an appointment for ten o'clock."
I took to the bathroom first, witnessing a bounty of unswept hair bits as well as a relatively slow flushing system. Returning to the floor, I was immediately directed towards one of the chairs. Seemingly the most senior member of the team, the ahjumma asked if I had any particular specifications towards the cut.
There wasn't much to say, to be frank. I simply wished for a neater rendition of my current style, while maintaining my existing thickness (or rather, lack thereof). The lady suggested trimming two inches from the bottom, while I lobbied for 1.5 inches at most.
In the end, it hadn't mattered what I said, since her scissors moved at the speed of light. Before the opportunity to speak up arose, she had snipped away majority of my already-thin treads. <i> Had there been a language barrier after all? I can't remember ever experiencing such an issue at other establishments.
"Is this alright?" She dared to ask after digging her scissors into my mane.
Not really...? I thought. "Uh, it's pretty short." I achingly tugged at the remnants of my longest layer. "No more than this!" I repeatedly warned.
Within a mere fifteen minutes, the cut was complete and I was whisked to the hair-washing station. I have several gripes about this dimly illuminated section:
- An artificial head of hair poking out from a stack of towels was downright horrifying.
- The lavender-haired girl not only failed to prevent water from entering my ears, but also didn't bother with the double-shampooing standard most salons abided by.
- There were no eye covers at this location, so a small towel had been arranged to prevent splashing.
By this point, two more customers had walked in, both capable of understand Korean. Thew were greeted warmly, and clear instructions were promptly digested.
Cash is the preferred method of payment, as customers using cards would be subject to applicable taxes on services. The total came to forty dollars, without tip and pre-cut hair-washing (an additional five dollars).
While there were no negative comments directed to my fresh cut, chances of returning to hb fall between zero to none. This conclusion is supported by the following:
- There is a massive language barrier present. Regardless of the gestures or simple terminology used to describe a basic haircut, the stylist remained foggy about my straightforward request.
- There is a higher ratio of operational staff (ie. hairwash-ers, sweepers, etc.) than stylists. Only one stylist was present during my visit and she refused to take her client's concerns into consideration before commencing the cutting session.
- The hair-washing procedure was utterly unprofessional. (Details can be retrieved above.)
- Both the environment and cloaks are filthy; I departed the premises with bits of hair on EVERY SINGLE CENTIMETRE OF MY ENTIRE BEING. Please note that these snippets may have been left from other patrons.
- Lastly, a password-secured Wi-Fi network is provided, but the connection was very unstable and utterly incapable of loading even basic Twitter videos.
It's the ultimate comfort food - takeout or dine-in.