July 24th 2019

Today, if I ran the numbers, I had a 75% chance of getting a decent hair cut. There’s a tiny barber shop down the road from my office, and within it are two barbers. One is the owner, and one is a trainee. The trainee, predictably, is not as competent as the owner.

When I’ve had my hair cut from the trainee before it was both time-consuming and painful, as he is slow and heavy-handed. After the last time I got a haircut from the trainee, I saw my cousin’s girlfriend, who is a hairdresser, and she made me promise that I would never return to the man who butchered my hairline. And so I do try not to.

Today though, I needed to risk it.

As I see it, when I walk into the barbers there are 4 possible scenarios, and I end up with the owner in 3 of them.

  1. Both the owner and the trainee are free.
  2. The owner is free but the trainee isn’t.
  3. The trainee is free but the owner isn’t.
  4. Neither the owner or the trainee are free.

Now, that may seem like a straight 50/50 chance of getting the owner or the trainee, except for the fact that in the first and last state, you’ll always end up with the owner. If they are both free, the owner gets precedent. If they are both busy, the owner will almost definitely finish first.

Sure, there are some outlying scenarios where there’s one or multiple people ahead of you waiting for a free barber, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that the math cancels itself out when that is the case.

And so, in three out of four scenarios you get a decent hair cut. Now, depending on what kind of person you are, you could suggest “well, if only the trainee is free you could just say to him that you’d rather wait until the owner is finished”. Well, you may be perfectly fine to say that, but I am never going to do that, and you’re a monster for even suggesting it. How dare you. What world are you living in?

Thankfully, I ended up with the owner.

Until tomorrow, my hairline lived to fight another day.


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