Monday, October 23, 2006

A free but not so super haircut

I got a coupon from Supercut offering a free haircut. I thought that there was no harm in saving a few bucks. So I went.

In retrospect, the big mistake that I made, aside from stinting on what I should have splurged, was that I presented the coupon right after I entered the shop. Every barber turned her head and frowned: here comes another person who is in just for the free cut. The head barber apparently had no interest in wasting her time. She disappeared immediately after finishing with her previous customer, leaving me waiting on the bench. The second barber available had no choice but to take me on the chair. But she cut my hair with as little care as if she were mowing down the remaining stalks in a wheat field after a year's harvest, paying no attention to either what fell off or what was left standing. I, conscious of the cut being free, patiently and politely pointed out the unevenness on my head, which she reluctantly corrected. By the end of ten minutes, she set down her clippers and scissors, and gestured that I was done.

My poor haircut did not escape being noticed the second day at work. My colleagues all wondered, some a little too loudly, why a man of decent salary would accept a messy head of hair for a saving of a few bucks. I wondered ruefully, too. But I feel as sorry for Supercut as for myself, for it just spent a few bucks to lose a potential customer. The management clearly lost touch with its employees. The free haircut that the management handed out in hope of promotion was taken by the individual barbers as an opportunity for the free-loaders to take advantage of their labor. What should have been a chance to attract new customers is thoughtlessly squandered, and that expended labor is lost forever.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My fear of ghosts

I have always feared ghosts, and this fear grows stronger as I grow older. Every strange movement of untouched objects, every mysterious apparition, every inexplicable sound rouse my suspecion of an encounter with the unliving. Never could I watch a horror film without being on my toes for days afterwards; so I have quit those films altogether for a few years now.

This fear rather perplexed me, since I am an atheist and I never really believe in ghosts. But recently I start to rationalize my fear. I do not really fear that the ghosts, if they were there, would do me bodily harm. After all, my folklore knowledge tells me that the dead and the living cannot interact physically. What I truly fear is their mere existence. If there were ghosts, there would be an afterlife, and there might very well be a judgement day for us all. There might even be a God, who would probably have been very angry with me for years of unbelief. I would have to answer for all the things that I have done in godlessness. I might be roiling on a gridiron in hell for eternity. Worst of all, I would not know whether I would still have time to redeem myself in the remainder of my life, by giving up all the joys that God disapprove and all the liberal thoughts that the Church condemns. If I would be a good Christian for the rest of my life but still go to hell because of my earlier sins, I would have lost both in this life and the one after, and that thought would drive me mad.

Now I understand. It is not the ghosts that I fear. It is the perdition.