Do you sell ... clippers?
The drive out to Pittsford Plaza is an essential one. Wegmans, Bed Bath & Beyond, TJ Maxx, Trader Joe's, Eastern Mountain Sports, Barnes & Noble, Pittsford Cinema 9, Century Liquor and Wines—it's all here. And of course, across the street, Marshalls. Today, I needed wine—but no whiskey this time; the hangovers have been too frequent lately—and also new clippers for trimming my beard. Allison said she may even have a go at cutting my hair with them. My old ones had deteriorated to the point where they were just tugging at my beard, not cutting it whatsoever.
As I wandered around Marshalls, through the hair and beauty section, which was of course only products for women, and through the tech accessory section, which was more male-focused but mainly headphones and crap like that, I couldn't find what I was looking for. As I finally resigned myself to asking an employee, I struggled to decide what the proper vocabulary even was. "Clippers" is what any barber will call them—as in "OK, pal, you want me to use the scissors or the clippers?"—but that has always felt vaguely imprecise to me, especially outside the context of a barber shop. "Electric clippers," perhaps. That felt too formal, and yet still unclear. So, of course, what came out when I actually did approach one of the Marshalls employees was a stilted, awkward jumble:
"Excuse me, do you have clippers ... like for cutting hair ... electric clippers?"
The woman stared at me blankly as I made hair-cutting motions with my hands, mimicking, I suppose, what I would look like if I gave myself a haircut with "clippers."
At last it dawned on her what I was fumbling to say, and she smiled and led me back over to the tech accessories, though I was fairly sure that's not where they were, and indeed they weren't, so she asked a second lady, who also seemed to have no idea what was being talked about.
"Clippers? ... Oh, like for cutting MEN's hair! Right over here."
She led us to a small table next to the socks.
"Thanks. I felt like I was speaking a foreign language there for a moment." I was trying to be affable, but perhaps I just sounded like a jerk. After 10 minutes of comparing six or so essentially identical items, I settled on the middle-of-the-road one—the $20 clippers, not the $25 or $15 ones.
But as I sat down to write this, it occurred to me that if I would have said I was looking for a "beard trimmer" I probably would have been understood immediately. And in fact I am primarily using the hair clippers as a beard trimmer, but they are not the same item. Beard trimmers, proper, are the same item but smaller, which negates any dual function they might have ... at least in my mind.