Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Barber and his Customer - A Judgement Question

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"When you travel by car and you see a bus hogging up the street, you keep honking asking him to move to the side so that at least a faster vehicle can move through quickly... When you are inside the bus, you get irritated when you listen to the incessant honking by a car behind you and you say 'What's the hurry man? We are moving ahead, right? It's not like I am standing still. Stop honking' Several times, right and wrong depends on perspective"

Ramu had not had his hair cut for quite some time. It had grown long and unmanageable, and he decided to go to his usual barber. So, Ramu set out with his long unkempt hair and unshaved face towards the usual saloon which he had been going to for the past five years. He hated walking a kilometre just to get a haircut and then another kilometre back. The barber greeted Ramu, and after finishing his business with the customer who had come to get his hair trimmed, the barber asked Ramu to take a seat on the big chair. Ramu settled dreamily in the chair, and was looking at the posters of various people in punk hairstyles. He wanted to try on of those, but his college was quite strict about dress code (No, he was not from PESIT :P)

So, Ramu said "The usual" which was medium haircut. After the dexterous hands were done clipping out all the extra mane, Ramu still didn't feel handsome enough. Of course, the beard! The barber always used to ask Ramu if he wanted a shave, to which the answer was no so often, that the barber had stopped asking. So, Ramu surprised the barber and said "Shave also". The barber was done with the shave in a mere five minutes, and Ramu looked at his handsome face and smiled.

He had seen a sheet of paper stuck on the wall that had various services and prices against them during his previous visits. He remembered a haircut cost him Rs. 30, a shave was Rs. 15 while a haircut and a shave together was Rs. 40. He had Rs. 40 in his pocket because he thought he could buy a couple of shampoo sachets after he was done with the spare Rs. 10. He saw that the sheet was not there, but that didn't matter... The prices rarely changed. He gave the Rs. 40 to the barber, who after counting the money said "Sir, it's Rs. 45". Had the prices changed? Well, Ramu didn't have the money, and he would have to walk two extra kilometres for the Rs. 5. He just stood there with his eyes open wide, and the barber said "No problem, Sir, give it next time"

Ramu was walking back home, and he was trying to think if paying so much money was worth it. The haircuts always invited a lot of ridicule, because a lot of people made fun of the funny haircut (Ok, I have experienced THIS a lot too :P) and so he felt that the money that he had been paying all along was high. And now, this extra five rupees? Does he really deserve it? Ramu seriously disagreed with it. He felt that the money charged by the barber was too high compared to other barbers (assume this is factually true for now) and now, he had hiked it further.

He noticed that a barber shop had opened much closer to his house than the regular barber who was a kilometre away. Ramu hated walking two kilometres for a haircut, and decided to give this new guy a try. He thought that the five rupees that he owed the regular barber can now be forgotten because for the dumb haircut given, he had already got more than what he deserved...

Question
Assume that the barber really does overcharge. Assume Ramu's haircut is bad by regular standards... Which option would you pick?
  1. Price charged by barber is his choice. Take it or leave it. Ramu had the option to go to some other barber. Once he comes here, he should stick by barber's rules
  2. Barber does shoddy work, and on top of that the barber is overcharging. It is not about the money. You should deserve and then desire. If he had deserved, Ramu would have given him. Barber got what he deserved. He shouldn't get that extra Rs. 5.
When you travel by car and you see a bus hogging up the street, you keep honking asking him to move to the side so that at least a faster vehicle can move through quickly... When you are inside the bus, you get irritated when you listen to the incessant honking by a car behind you and you say 'What's the hurry man? We are moving ahead, right? It's not like I am standing still. Stop honking' It's all about perspective.

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