back to article Salon told to change ad looking for 'happy' stylist because it 'discriminated against unhappy people'

Depending on your personality, a trip to the hairdresser or barber can be harrowing. Like any customer-facing role, it's expected of staff to take to the job with a wink and a smile – but then comes the dreaded "small talk". "Been up to much today?" "No." ... is how your correspondent's chats with barbers normally start …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Terminator

    How I feel in the office

    There's only one life-form as intelligent as me within thirty parsecs of here and that's me.

    1. Julz Silver badge

      Re: How I feel in the office

      So how did you get over thirty parsecs away?

      1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
        Alien

        How to travel 30 parsecs?

        If you have to ask you aren't classified as intelligent.

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: How to travel 30 parsecs?

          That's longer than the Kessel run!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: How to travel 30 parsecs?

            Only if you take the by-pass, avoiding Kessel city centre. But it is quicker.

      2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: How I feel in the office

        Multiple instances of time travel shenanigans have left me no less than thirty-seven times older than the universe itself. My various body parts, now rusted and barely functional, have been replaced at least fifty times each (except, ironically, all the diodes down my left side).

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: How I feel in the office

          It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.

    2. Falmari
      Unhappy

      Me and everyone else

      I agree that is how I feel but not just restricted to the office.

      I remember a yearly review on my job performance. Have to answer questions that your line manager reviews and puts their rating which you then go over in a meeting.

      For the question how I rate my relationship with QA I put 3 out of 5. My line manager marked me down to 2 saying I had a them and us attitude with QA. I manged to get it back to 3 in the review meeting by explaining that I did not have a them and us attitude to QA, I had a me and everyone else attitude and QA was not being singled out.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Me and everyone else

        It's not personal. QA have a them and us attitude to everyone.

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Me and everyone else

        I think the saying goes; "I'm not bigoted, I have EVERYBODY.'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Me and everyone else

          Typo or Freudian bikini slip?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Me and everyone else

            Or autoconnect?

            Or all free?

  2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    I'm with Richard

    I don't need talk of depression but I'm fine with

    'Good morning

    'Just a cut please

    'Is that OK ?

    'Yes thanks.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: I'm with Richard

      Stating that it's a good morning could be triggering to those who are depressed or suicidal.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: I'm with Richard

      Just a cut please

      Just as long as you didn't walk in to the vasectomy clinic next door

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: I'm with Richard

        "Just as long as you didn't walk in to the vasectomy clinic next door"

        That's exactly waht I would expect walking in to the vasectomy clinic next door!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm with Richard

          A few years back when I was in hospital to get my ticker re-plumbed, the evening before the operation a nurse had to shave the chest and and the legs right up to the nether regions. In the ensuing smalltalk, she said that never did she imagine she'd be shaving men as part of her work

          1. Danny 2 Silver badge

            Re: I'm with Richard

            First, they don't shave your balls for a vasectomy, they just fry them in a wee frying pan. (Local anaesthetic and not a good view but I checked after and my ba'hair were a' there.

            Second, my favourite ever second hand anecdote.

            A (now dead) pal of mine, Kate, told me of when she got appendicitis on holiday in Turkey. She had to have an emergency operation and was drugged up for pain and waiting in her hospital bed. A white coat said he had to shave her pubes, which she consented to, because she was drugged. Then another doctor picked up a dinner tray and started banging it on the head of the first doctor.

            You don't need your pubes shaved for any operation.

            The first "doctor" turned out to be a sex pest well known to the actual hospital doctors.

            I know that is true because she only told me that when she was drunk, she still blushed when saying it, and it made her laugh when I repeated it on her death bed.

            1. Imhotep Silver badge

              Re: I'm with Richard

              I was told to shave mine ahead of time. Or was that my own idea?

              1. Danny 2 Silver badge

                Re: I'm with Richard

                Was it definitely a doctor who told you that, or just a man in a white coat?

                I was tricked into the op aged 21 by an abusive partner, and dismayed to find my nurse was a former classmate.

    3. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: I'm with Richard

      I hate getting my hair cut by a random person who expects me to talk to them. Thankfully, I'm nearly bald now, so I can just buzz it myself. Saves the need for any kind of conversations with a random stranger, happy or otherwise.

      1. Imhotep Silver badge

        Re: I'm with Richard

        If you're having your hair cut by random strangers, you should lower your expectations.

    4. keith_w Bronze badge

      Re: I'm with Richard

      That sounds like my trip to a new barber 2 days ago. Our 'meeting' ended with 'that'll be $22 please, oh are you a senior?' 'yes' '$17 then'. The reason for the the new barber? The old one cranked up their prices by 50% following the post(?)-covid reopening.

      1. jtaylor

        Re: I'm with Richard

        The old one cranked up their prices by 50% following the post(?)-covid reopening.

        That's a tough one. I would be peeved too if my barber raised his prices like that. On the other hand, I like my barber. It's a third-generation small family business. He works hard and isn't getting rich. He closes Sundays to spend with his family, while the big chains stay open and get the Sunday customers.

        So at my most recent haircut, I thanked him for opening again. I thanked him for catching me up on 4 months of shaggy hair. Then I quietly handed him 4 times his posted price. I hope his small shop survives.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: I'm with Richard

        "The old one cranked up their prices by 50% following the post(?)-covid reopening."

        Most likely, they are having fewer customers because they have to disinfect everything every time one leaves and because they might have had customers closer together previously. If they can't do as much work in the same time, they might only be able to manage to stay afloat by charging more. Not that that puts any restrictions on you, but it's worth considering why they might have done that.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I'm with Richard

        "The old one cranked up their prices by 50% following the post(?)-covid reopening."

        So? You had three months extra growth to take off. That doesn't come cheep you know.

    5. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I'm with Richard

      Looks like a fringe benefit...

    6. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: I'm with Richard

      Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?

  3. Jon Smit
    Trollface

    Wouldn't it be nice

    To meet a happy taxi driver.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wouldn't it be nice

      I would settle for one with a vow of silence

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Wouldn't it be nice

        And then I totally like to take a cab when being at a new place - they sort of stick to the route, but also show me some sights while driving by, entertaining me with "and people used to say that the owner of this place.... (strange stroy followed)". Totally worth it, and well within the travel budget I had then... (and was allowed to travel)

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Wouldn't it be nice

          The great Stewart Lee :-

          I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I got in, er, a cab in, in London in December, and about five minutes into the journey, a propos of nothing, early on a Sunday morning, the cab driver turned round to me and he said, ‘I think all homosexuals should be killed.’

          Now, whatever you think of that, Glasgow, as a statement, you have to admit it’s a bold opening conversational gambit. You know, with a stranger. And I was a bit taken aback. I went, ‘Oh, why do you think that?’ And then there was a pause, ’cause he’d obviously never had to go to the next level of the argument, fraternising mainly with cab drivers, so … where that was just accepted as a point. No …

          And he said, ‘Well …’ after a moment, he said, ‘Well, because homosexuality is immoral.’

          And I said – this is honestly true – I said, ‘Um, I’m not sure how much weight you can afford to place on the notion of morality in this argument, because morality’s not a fixed thing. It changes its parameters, culturally, historically, over time.’ I said, ‘For example, look at ancient Greece. To this day, we still take most of our most fundamental principles about ethics, aesthetics, er, philosophy, medicine, science, whatever from ancient Greece. And yet’, I said, ‘in ancient Greece, love between two men, far from being immoral, was actually considered the highest, most ethical, most profound, if you will, most moral form of love that there could be. So all I’m saying’, I said to him, ‘is I’m not sure how useful morality is, given its flexible nature, as a cornerstone of your argument on this subject.’

          And then he said to me – this is honestly true – he said to me, ‘Well, you can prove anything with facts, can’t you?’

          For a minute, I went, ‘Yeah.’ And then I thought, ‘Hang on! That’s the most fantastic way of winning an argument I’ve ever heard! “You can … I’m not interested in facts. I find they tend to cloud my judgement. I prefer to rely on instinct and blind prejudice.” ’

          1. Sam not the Viking

            Re: Wouldn't it be nice

            Never let facts get in the way of a good argument.

            Almost the boss' credo.

            1. Chris 239
              Unhappy

              Re: Wouldn't it be nice

              and sadly it works for the head of the previously free world too these days

    2. Boo Radley

      Re: Wouldn't it be nice

      I'm a taxi driver, very happy with my life and work. I also know when to just keep my mouth shut, but most of my customers are quite talkative and we have good conversations. Kind of like a good bartender, I'm also a good listener.

  4. cheb

    'Tis nothing new:

    The 10th oldest joke was found in the world's oldest "joke book," called "Philogelos" (or "Laughter-Lover"), written by Greeks Hierocles and Philagrius in the 4th century.

    "Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied: "In silence"."

  5. Wayland Bronze badge

    discriminatory

    I thought the purpose of selecting someone for a job was to be discriminatory. There must be some things you can ask for in an applicant and some you can't.

    As the applicant if you turn up and you dislike the grumpy boss do you still have to take the job?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: discriminatory

      This appears to be a genuine question (if it’s a joke it’s not particularly amusing) so I’ll take the bait in case you or others reading ever get involved in recruiting. You are perfectly entitled to discriminate on anything except eight tightly defined “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act 2010.

      These are age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

      For disability - which includes depression meeting severity and longevity thresholds - you are can also discriminate if you can evidence that accommodating the disability isn’t possible, even with reasonable adjustments to working conditions.

      Happiness is technically a stupid requirement to put in a job ad as it can’t be externally assessed. However the response was also ridiculously OTT as everyone knows it’s shortcut in this context for “superficially cheerful when talking to people, even when they’re ****s”. Oddly enough, people with depression are very practiced in hiding their feelings, so might be well qualified.

      1. JonSaul

        Re: discriminatory

        Interesting reaction to the depression aspect of hiding feelings, considering there's a stigma for people admitting they have it. It's a bit of a defense mechanism. Whether it's a good defense or not is certainly debatable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: discriminatory

          Sorry, I should have been clearer and fuller. I suspect many people with depression go through a phase of covering things up because of fear of how they will be perceived and of having a mental illness, before they realise it’s generally unhelpful and probably makes things worse. And even when they are talking about it, they will cover some of the time to spare others from a continual broadcast that would get a bit wearing.

          I know I did all of that - I have had quite a few episodes of moderate to severe depression in the past, though now (cross fingers) things seem largely under control due to a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. It’s possible I’m overgeneralising from my experience though.

          I would urge people with depression to try to be open as you can be - often the stigma might be less than you fear, even in your work life. Just be cautious/apply your judgement, there are some still idiots and poor employers out there, but thankfully fewer and fewer as time goes on. Get yourself a counsellor, it’s very helpful. And it is possible to have a generally very good life - I’m lucky enough to have a great job, lovely family/kids, and fantastic friends.

          And to people conflating sadness/grumpiness with depression - they feel quite different, in my experience.

          1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: discriminatory

            there are some still idiots and poor employers out there, but thankfully fewer and fewer as time goes on

            There may be fewer "poor employers"out there - but that seems to be a result of fewer employers overall, and the proportion of poor to good (employers you actually enjoy working for) employers seems to be deteriorating.

            if thats not grounds for depression.. I'm sure you can find something else...

            The danger of taking affirmation from your job - regardless of how good you are at it - is that you are vulnerable to shocks completely beyond and outside your control - but at least its better than taking your affirmation and self worth from social media.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: discriminatory

              I meant poor in the narrow context of treating depression as an irreparable personal flaw rather than a usually episodic and treatable illness. Not poor as in generally bad to work for. The two are somewhat but imperfectly correlated.

          2. Boo Radley

            Re: discriminatory

            Indeed, when my depression was at its worst I still appeared to onlookers to be quite happy. I was only miserable internally. Thank dog I discovered medication and therapy, now I'm as happy inside as outside.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I thought the purpose of selecting someone for a job was to be discriminatory.

      "happy salon looking for happy people" discriminates against happy dogs!

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Thought that the call was a "wind up"

    So it seems that someone from the DWP 'phoned and did not say enough to show that s/he really was from DWP. This is how 'phone calls that end up in identity theft, or something, start out - social engineering. So DWP is clueless that they are making things worse.

    Actually: I am not surprised. I get unexpected calls from banks, etc, where they ask ME to prove who I am before they will talk. I always insist that it is the wrong way round.

    Sigh

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Thought that the call was a "wind up"

      I always answer those with "you called me, you must know who I am"

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    What is it with DWP and their precursors? My direct experience of them is limited but does extent back more than 50 years and is consistent with stories such as this. Is it simply self-perpetuating ineptness - the inept rising up a management structure of their peers and recruiting more like themselves? Or is the the Civil Service filtering recruits, the flyers going to Treasury and FCO whilst those who didn't even make HO end up in DWP?

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      They would place ads saying "inept department looking for incompetent people", and then censure themselves for discriminating against the competent.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Or is the the Civil Service filtering recruits, the flyers going to Treasury and FCO whilst those who didn't even make HO end up in DWP?

      Haven't you heard? It's "assorted weirdos" to the top of the pile

      https://dominiccummings.com/2020/01/02/two-hands-are-a-lot-were-hiring-data-scientists-project-managers-policy-experts-assorted-weirdos/

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Cummings has been rather out of the limelight since he discovered it didn't show him up too well* in Barnard Castle. I don't know whether he decided to keep out of sight or whether he was told.

        * Not as well as he'd have liked. Only too well from another point of view of course.

  8. TeeCee Gold badge
    Unhappy

    They have a point.

    After all, if you are going to get sued for discrimination, it's always going to be by some miserable bastard. Cheerful, pleasant people just aren't that vindictive.

    Probably best not to be seen to discriminate against them.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: They have a point.

      Successfully suing someone would make you happy.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: They have a point.

        "Successfully suing someone would make you happy."

        I haven't ever done so and I hope I never will because I honestly don't think it'd make me happy. If I'm suing someone, they probably have done something bad to me or to others, and I'm trying to get them to stop doing that. So I would be pleased if the successful suit meant that they would cut it out. However, it's not the kind of happy that lasts very long, being the cessation of a bad thing rather than a start of a good thing. The only other part that might result in happiness is if I get a large settlement, but I think even that would only be of minor benefit to my mood. Maybe I'm just imagining it wrong.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They have a point.

      If it is genuinely a case of discrimination, the person being sued is probably the vindictive, miserable bastard almost by definition.

      Discrimination cases are massively stacked against the claimant in the UK (US is very different), who will never come out ahead as it is basically treated as a breach of contract that will, at best, make them whole - before legal fees. Damages awards are generally very low.

  9. macjules Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "developers, developers developers"?

    "We are looking for an experienced developer with ..."

    "Sorry, you can't place that advert as you might be discriminating against inexperienced developers"

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "developers, developers developers"?

      Came here to say the same thing: Won't anybody do something about that hair saloon discriminating against people who don't know how to cut hair? Won't anybody think of the children?...

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: "developers, developers developers"?

      But that's not equivalent. 'Experienced' can be measured. If you said 'looking for cheerful developers' or 'looking for stoic developers', you are asking for something that can't be measured and which isn't required to do the job. So you are reaching for an outrage.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "developers, developers developers"?

        I can think of times where stoic was quite a useful attribute in any aspect of IT.

      2. Julz Silver badge

        Re: "developers, developers developers"?

        Hum, if only. Is that five years 'experience' doing the same thing every day or five years 'experience' learning something new every day? Or perhaps five years 'experience' following what the person next to you did or five years 'experience' in pretending to be competent.

        I guess that's why you have interviews and you have to try and gauge what's what. Same with other traits you might be interested in like 'happiness'.

      3. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: "developers, developers developers"?

        > something that [...] isn't required to do the job

        I don't agree. Hair salons are plenty around where I live and, having the choice, I tend to chose the salon with the nicest staff, it's always nice to be greeted and served with a smile.

        Nobody likes brooding people (unless they're famous artists).

        1. Julz Silver badge

          Re: "developers, developers developers"?

          Hum, some of us don't care much for unrealistically upbeat people and their delusionally optimistic world views.

          Bah humbug...

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: "developers, developers developers"?

            > unrealistically upbeat people

            Yeah, that's different, I hate those too, who doesn't.

            I was just talking about people who under casual inspection might look like they aren't too much annoyed by our arrival in their shop. And might even leave us with a nagging suspicion they might not be overly annoyed to have to accept our money. You know, people who don't accuse the customer for being stuck in a menial job they deem way beneath them.

  10. Commswonk Silver badge

    Unfortunately...

    ...I cannot find a video of Monty Python's Lumberjack sketch with the opening sequence in a barber's shop, only the later song section.

    However, I did manage to find a copy of the script; I hope commentards (or at least those old enough!) will be able to conjure the original up from memory.

    http://www.montypython.net/scripts/barber.php.

    Isn't nostalgia wonderful...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unfortunately...

      For those with insufficiently long memories....

      https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7a7qi

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Unfortunately...

        Oh excellent; thanks for finding it. Having watched it all again I suspect that the BBC would be reluctant to transmit that nowadays for fear of risking offending one group or another.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge

    Hair salon\Barber

    Not in at least 15 years. I just cut off a few inches off the back every 6 months or so.

    Also, I have a barber complex, my grandfather was one, and sitting his chair was traumatic to put it mildly.

  12. Andy Non Silver badge

    Marvin would be the ideal barber

    Marvin: “My capacity for happiness you could fit into a matchbox without taking out the matches first.”

    Arthur: “I think that door just sighed.”

    Marvin: “Ghastly, isn’t it?”

    Marvin: “Sorry, did I say something wrong? Pardon me for breathing which I never do anyway so I don’t know why I bother to say it oh God I’m so depressed.”

    Marvin: “I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.”

    Trillian: “Well, we have something that may take your mind off it.”

    Marvin: “It won’t work, I have an exceptionally large mind.”

    Marvin: “Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you to the hair dryer. Call that job satisfaction, ’cause I don’t.”

    Marvin: “‘Reverse primary thrust, Marvin.’ That’s what they say to me. ‘Open airlock number 3, Marvin.’ ‘Marvin, can you pick up that piece of paper?’ Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper.”

    A Good Education:

    Marvin: “It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.”

    Arthur Dent: “You mean you can see into my mind?”

    Marvin: “Yes.”

    Arthur: “Well?”

    Marvin: “It amazes me how you manage to live in anything that small.”

    Marvin: “Life? Don’t talk to me about life!”

    Marvin: “I ache, therefore I am.”

    Marvin: “Life. Loathe it or ignore it. You can’t like it.”

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. I just don't like people very much.

    I share the feeling! Care to meet? :D

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I only want happy people but I am too scared to advertise my job now

    I'd jobcentre for "inciting fear" and harassment of those who want to be happy.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: I only want happy people but I am too scared to advertise my job now

      I'm as suspicious of this as I was of her idea that her salon was a happy place. When owners/managers tell me their place is happy, I think 'no, you are, because maybe bullying people makes you happy'. A manager's take on the emotional temperature of a workplace is always biased.

  15. Michael Hoffmann
    Facepalm

    Unhappy people with sharp implements?

    Hairdressers use scissors and other implements of that kind, that are frequently resharpened. Near my head and neck.

    Sorry, but I would *really* prefer them to be happy people and not someone who suddenly took out a depressive spell on my scalp or jugular. Or tries to drown me in the shampooing basin.

  16. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Sweeney Todd

    Hairdressers need to be happy people. I wouldn't like them to be able to wield cut-throat razors otherwise.

    Edit: Sorry I see Michael Hoffmann has beaten me to that observation.

    The question is whether Sweeney Todd was an unhappy barber or whether he actually enjoyed murdering his clientele.

    Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "passing trade".

  17. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Big Bangs Theory

    I always hated the barber more that the dentist, because I preferred long hair because I have big ears that my older sisters mocked relentlessly.

    I found a barber I could tolerate, a bit of a John Travolta type but he lowered his chat level to my obvious intolerance. I had to drop him when my dad starting going there. I got a new hairdresser who spraffed away too much, but cheap and I am used to smiling through small talk when I'd rather be silent. The trick is to ask them about them and pretend to be interested. Then my dad switched to her.

    I switched to a local barber who actively demeaned with his small talk, from his first imputation I couldn't afford his highly inflated prices.

    I bought a £15 set of clippers from Lidl's and have been cutting my own hair for years. I've not cut my hair since January because I've enjoyed everyone else having long hair.

    Sadly, I am soon to clip my glorious long hair. Peer pressure.

  18. Diez66

    When I was young and the world was, just how it was, I used to help shop for a neighbour and when we went to the butchers we used to ask for a "Happy Chicken"; not an eyelid was batted.

    Looking back, A "Happy Chicken" and a butcher, Nope

    This is why we need the PC brigade to stomp out such nonsense.

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