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Atoke’s Morning Banter: Let’s Just Get This Hair Done In Silence



Have you ever had one of those random bursts of decisions? The kind that you don’t plan for – you just wake up on Saturday morning and think ‘I want to braid my hair.’ No reason. No motivation. Just do it.

So, after almost 4 years of abstaining from any kind of painful manipulation of my hair, I decided to give braids a try. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I went armed with my Kindle, mp3 player and mobile phone… all fully charged to help the time fly past as speedily as possible.

I left the hair braider’s house with my devices fully charged – I didn’t get a chance to use them. The woman talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and… Okay I’m sure you get the point now. The gist was diverse, random and UNSOLICITED. Stories of her encounters with dubious Nigerians, how she met and married her husband, how she had her first child, how she came from Africa when she was a teenager, and so on. In all of this I kept thinking… “would it be rude if I put my earphones in?” Reading a book was now out of the question as I was given the task of giving her the extensions. There really was no way out of it.

Being out of the hair braiding/weaving scene for so long, I’d completely forgotten that one of the elements of a salon visit is the unsolicited gist that emanates therefrom.

When I was in UNILAG, there was a section, behind D Block Moremi Hall, allocated to hair braiders, make up artists and nail technicians. Fancy names for “Iya Sikiru/Iya Ahmed, Aunty Ayo & ‘Awon Fix Your Nayks’.. Deciding to go down there to get your hair and nails done meant you were ready for them to either talk your ear off, or have them weigh in on your phone conversations. Unsolicited gist was the hallmark of that place. The thing about those places is that people who talk on the phone, or entertain ‘guests’ at the salon unwittingly provide gist for the hair dressers to add to their ‘cupboard’.

It’s comforting to know that this talking syndrome isn’t solely a ‘woman’ thing. Barber shops are reportedly the home of all sorts of funny stories. I recently watched an episode of New Girl where Nicholas was shopping for a new barber. He didn’t really want to go to Winston’s barber because of all the surrounding talk.
. Women have been made to believe that they’re the gender that is particularly chatty. A visit to the barber’s shop will tell you otherwise.

Being chatty in itself is not a bad thing; however, there has to be a nice and polite way to say “I really don’t want to hear about how you bought new washing machine. Can we just get my hair done in silence?”

This unsolicited talk happens with taxi drivers too; but with them you can just slip your earphones in – music or no music – and you’re immune from the unwanted chatter about where you’re going and where you’re from and how long you’re going to be away for.

Someone said that the chatting helps them get through the task as quickly as possible. For the hairdresser, she doesn’t think she is doing anything wrong because the chore is tedious and having someone to talk to helps. The question then becomes, how does one draw the line at being humane -listening patiently, and suffering in silence.  Personally, I don’t think talking once in a while is bad; the problem arises when you start telling me about real personal stuff. This usually makes me uncomfortable. Even worse when you chime in on my phone call.  It’s bad enough that you listened to a call I had no choice but to take in your presence, but please don’t opine on the subject you eavesdropped on. Also, please don’t chuckle while listening to my phone call. I’m not cracking jokes for your entertainment.

In all of this, there are some people who prefer chatty hairstylists. A friend once complained that a lady once made her hair and didn’t speak through the entire session. She found it really weird.

Different strokes, folks.

Are you team Bring On The Random Talk? Or are you team Let’s Just Get Through This Ride in Silence? What’s the weirdest unsolicited gist you have heard? On Saturday, my friend was in an elevator when one guy got in and said “My dad is ill.” She said it was so random – it took a few minutes for her to gather her thoughts to respond “I’m sorry”.

Have a fantastic week ahead! Let’s kick ass this week okay?
Oh it’s Julian’s birthday today… She’s the hardworking, zero-hair-having, Amazon who makes sure BN clients are kept happy. We love you our Omo Pupa :p

Another birthday shout out to our resident Crase-Columnist! Isio… Scorpios just rock. True story!

Peace, love & crunchy bran flakes.

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. babe

    November 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

    kkkkk hairdressers are so chatty and it can be so annoying esp when you have a lots of thinkng to do

  2. Fashionista

    November 17, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Urgh! I hate random chat!!! Taxi drivers and hairdressers definitely take the piss on this one. I just give them one word answers for the most part until they get the hint.

    • Oma

      November 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Some don’t get the hint. This is where my headphones come in handy especially when I need to think and write. And when they say, ‘Madam, I am talking to you’, I just respond with, ‘My ears are blocked’!

    • Iris

      November 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      I love that you mentioned taxi drivers and hair stylists were the biggest offenders. I swear I think they do it so you tip them at the end for being “nice”. It is not enough that I am paying an outrageous sum for my hair or the cab in this obodo oyibo. If you make the mistake of paying a cab driver with a debit card he will give you the machine and you will see “Tip Option $ OR %” Maka why? The meter didn’t start from $0, the meter kept running through the red light and the traffic! Once I paid in cash and one of them asked “How much do you want back?” What do you mean how much?! What is 20 minus 10? It’s the same when you go to a salon to relax your hair or wax your eyebrows. Who tips me in my office after I provide good service? There was this woman I used to go to to get my hair relaxed from the Caribbean. She would talk about her family, her children, the financial industry’s conspiracy to steal your money from your account, and – her personal favourite – black power. I could say something as inane as “Oo you got a new blow dryer” and we would end up at black power somehow -The history of black people, the fact that no one realised that Alexandre Dumas was black, it was all there. On top my burning hair O! Then at the end I would see “Tip Option $ OR %.” Me sef I can be slow sha so it took me a couple of incidents to wisen up. I started carrying exact cash. Clearly talk is not cheap.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      November 18, 2014 at 1:02 am

      Hahahahaha! “Beht” those those two particular set of culprits you’ve targeted happen to work in fields where they have to spend long moments with clients where the silence can get very awkward really quickly. In a way, they’re probably chewing your ear off more for your benefit than for theirs. 🙂

      I’ve got a soft spot for taxi drivers, ever since 1 memorable cab ride to an interview years ago where I was very nervous about the impending task and the cab driver was so sweet, he kept my mood up with lighthearted humor and when he dropped me off, his final words were “Don’t worry, you’ll get the job”. It’s not like he was God oh but I felt a lot calmer after hearing that (I guess it was the affirmative effect of his words) & I did get offered the job. So I’ve always had a willing listening ear for them since then.

      As for hairdressers, I always feel rude if I don’t hold regular convos with ’em, especially when it’s a case of going to a stranger’s house (or a stranger coming to yours) to spend 5-7 hours standing over your head from all angles. In fact, if the hair’s getting “did” at my crib, na so I go turn hostess begin offer you food, drinks, snacks, etc….. *sigh* It’s never just a simple monetary transaction.

      P.S: Happy “born” day to Isio & Julian of the BN family! May a long and rich life be your divine portion!!

      PPS: Atoke, which kain braids you plait wey come make you break your 4-year fast? 🙂

  3. Beautiful Onyinye

    November 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I am definitley team “Let’s Just Get Through This Ride in Silence?”…I hate small talk, makes me soo

  4. bruno

    November 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

    SMALL TALK with me, HELL NO. I avoid unnecessary smaLl talk, even with my cousins and family members.
    I remember one time, one of my cousins asked me if I had a girlfriend, if u see the look I gave her, (don’t go there with me kind of look). Long hiss

  5. Chinma Eke

    November 17, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I am team #letsjustgetthehairdoneinsilence I have no problem with the stylist gisting with others, just don’t expect me to contribute. My stylists over the years do not know I understand Igbo or Yoruba, even if they are talking about me, I keep a straight poker face, and pretend I do not understand the language. But it comes in useful when they are spoiling the hair, especially with braiders, when one will comment to the other that that braid is too big or isn’t neat, I just let a little time pass and stylishly run my hand through the hair or look into the mirror and pick out the bad one. Lol. I really can’t be pulled into their gist.
    For taxi drivers; I used to ignore them until I discovered one dozing while driving. Since then, once in a while I talk to the driver or do something to draw his attention and ensure he’s alert. Lol, I can’t shout!

    Happy happy bdae to the celebrants; Julian, Isio, and everyone celebrating this week; llnp.

  6. Agidi_jollof

    November 17, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve had the same stylist for years so we’ve evolved to friends and I’ve even become her go-to lawyer, I’ve gotten introduced to her fiance over the phone first, then face to face. I don’t find the gist during braiding annoying at all. It’s refreshing having a friend from that side of the divide, I’ve gained a lot on insight on some issues.
    However, taxi drivers?! Ugh miss me with that. One of them started gisting me once that he agreed to go for the amount I bargained because I was decently dressed, went ahead to tell me to keep it up, not to join these Abuja girls, how once he refused to pick a Lady up in the rain despite her trying to flag him down because of how indecently she was dressed. bla bla bla.
    All the while I was thinking, can we get to Gudu already? Sigh.
    A trick I now use is sitting at the backseat as opposed to the front passenger seat (if it’s the Abuja painted colours anyway), unpainted ones will force you to sit at the front so they don’t get arrested for operating as taxis.

  7. Oma

    November 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Think hairdressers are randy with their chats, wait till you hop on a bike and the rider begins to chat away and when you do not respond to him, he tries to make you talk. When you still refuse to talk, he gets upset. How is that for a RANDOM conversation?

  8. a

    November 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Lol I absolutely hate chatty hair dressers. I finally found one who can come make my hair at my house and I just turn on the TV while she makes my hair. No time for stupid random chats.


    November 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Happy Birthday to the celebrants. Scorpios truly rock. I can’t see myself in another zodiac sign. Lol

    Back to the core, I’m at school so i personally encounter some chatty bike men. when I get on a bike, some bike men start saying their life stories to me. I just wonder why. One telling me how I shld please never marry a military man because he hates the militart all because a police car passed us by. Wetin I talk? I just gave a hmmmm and ahhhh.

    Another bike man complaining to me how students confuse their mind/heart and soul when they come out with skimpy clothes at night. I started wondering if I am the head of that street.

    I was in a taxi and the driver started talking politics. There is no way politics come into a discussion and you will ever share same idea. Hardly will that be. I quicly said I need good governance in Nigeria and it ended.

    And don’t let me narrate the police man encounter I had this early moi-moi. I respected myslf and answered all the questions. Imagine asking my faculty, department, some lecturers all because I said I have lectures. He asked if I am sure I am a student. Biko.

    Maybe sometimes they want to get somethings off their chest. When it comes to things I can help in giving advise I do because I know I will hardly see the person/never and I won’t be able to figure out your face.

  10. poison ivy

    November 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    My mum loves them,she’s a talker too.
    For me,I personally don’t mind as long as it’s not intimate & long(bits by bits does it for me)
    #truestory,i once met a taxi guy who told me of his sex escapade with an eastern governor#namewitheld, how he will arrange male prostitute for him & how he turned down shell job offer……SMH
    Oooh… hairdresser is so vague#youhavenoidea

  11. T.M

    November 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I love chatty hair dressers, I must say the stories you hear in salons are hilarious. Nowadays I do my own hair so I definitely miss those crazy stories. On the other hand I don’t like chatty taxi drivers or motorbike guys.

  12. CHIBABY.

    November 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Ahhhh, I actually love talking to hairdressers especially Nigerian ones, because ‘their gist no get part 2’….but I avoid telling them much about me and my life, because the same way they talk to you about other clients, the same way they will talk to other clients about you.
    I also love the fact that I can have a somewhat friendly relationship with someone that I wouldn’t normally get a chance to befriend on a normal day.
    On the other hand, taxi drivers and I don’t get along. One actually told me off for speaking too quietly…..’madam, abeg I no dey hear you, if wan ask me question, open your mouth make I hear you’…..apparently being an ‘ajebutter’ (whatever that is), works against your favor on Lagos mainland.

  13. Naijasinglegirl

    November 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Your problem is a chatty hairdresser? Haha The worst of them all are okada riders that won’t shut and drive.
    I can list a 1001 problems with these hairdressers. Read what happened to me on my last visit to a salon here.

    • pipi

      November 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      NSG you see now! because u refused to update more frequently, i forgot about your blog, i found it and read all ur posts in one day, i loved it

    • Naijasinglegirl

      November 17, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Ejor…forget me not. I’ll try to blog regularly.

  14. miss max

    November 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    No problem, she/he can chat all the way as long as you are not expecting any input from me and as long as my hair gets done and finished when it should. Same for taxi drivers. But, the thing about these places and people is that you get to hear of some bizarre, funny and sad stories that make up our world that you won’t hear or experience on your own. I got to hear the story of how a wife and her husband’s babe on the side use the same saloon. The said babe was actually introduced to the saloon by the man himself.

  15. Tolani

    November 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I moved houses in October last year with my flatmate who has a car. Outside our new house we have a number of taxi cab guys who park outside daily thus making it easy for you to get taxis and also for you to become familiar faces with them.

    The first day I had to take a taxi I almost had my ear chewed off. The cab guy gave me gist about the landlord, his stepmother, his siblings and all the other occupants of the house. He even proceeded to tell me that a lady with a car just moved in (my flatmate)! He proceeded to ask me where I stay and how come he had never seen me. I told him I stayed in the compound with my Auntie and didn’t know any of the people he was talking about. Meanwhile the journey from my house to my office is under 5 minutes!

    I avoid getting into his taxi except it is necessary and found another cab guy in front of my house who doesn’t make any chitchat.

  16. Sabifok

    November 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I had this place I used to go cut my hair in Lekki. It was a barber shop, with 4 barbers who usually engaged in banter with the cutting public. One of them in particular was a really mouthy fella who liked playing Lil Wayne videos on the salon DVD. This guy was obsessed with Lil Wayne to a fault. He used to try dressing like Lil Wayne, even with the dreadlocks (dada), white wife-beater vests (shimi). He even started talking, grinning and laughing like Lil Wayne. Ha!

    He would rewind and play the ‘Lollipop’ video a million times and marvel at the stretch hummer, the girls and the champagne and fantasize about relocating to Yankee, where he heard that cash was easy, and that barbers earn a fortune. He usually grilled the rich people’s kids whose hair he cut for information about their summer trip to the States.

    He was always miming the Wayne’s songs close to my ear-drums anytime he cut my hair, which is really irritating. Apart from the noise nuisance and the fact that he got the lyrics totally wrong, dude needed Maclean’s. He had dragon breath.

    One day, i came in and noticed he had the black eye of life. Apparently some days before, he had been distracted by a Lil Wayne performance at an award show on TV, and mistakenly gave a Lagos Big Boy a Papa Ajasco-like bald patch while cutting his hair. He received an “Olisa Dibua-esque” beating.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      November 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      I like the way you write and your moniker is “sabifok-esque”.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      November 18, 2014 at 1:19 am

      I’m almost tempted to say this is either Esco or the replication of an Esco-esque post. Have a lingering memory of reading something similar on his blog a while back … Esco, if it’s you, please start blogging again. We “milz” you.

    • PleaseSavemeFromLaughter

      November 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      hey heeyy heeyhhyy sabifok, who are you please and where do u come from. Come and see what you have done to me. The tears in my eyes in the name of laughter has made my colleagues ask if all was well with me.. God will judge you kai

    • MJ

      November 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Yup this is definitely esco!!!

      If you have read esco’s work like me and BOBO, MSA then you can’t miss it.. Esco of life!! I throway salute oo..

      Meanwhile, while we are on this issue (detecting random comments on blogs with unknown alias) I have been meaing to ask. MSA, are you Tola Omo Iya Saa’ AKA Afro? 🙂 Please say yes? 🙂

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      November 20, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      I’ve truly never so much as heard of this character… but shall know to look out for her online! 🙂

  17. Que

    November 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Abeg I confess I love salon gossip……always has some spice and I hear d most unbelievable random stuff…. I listen with both ears, but never contribute….unless I’m in my lagos salon which I’ve used for decades and I’m very familiar with the owner and other long standing customers who have become ‘salon friends’…. I hate getting hair done, and I mostly do my hair, so when i must, anything to take d boredom and stillness off is welcome…. as long as you’re not spitting on me or sharing boring gist, in which case I plug my ears without apology.

    I often indulge cabbies cos I like to be aware of the journey, but again if my mood that day requires silence, I go as d spirit leads o…..plug my ears, close my eyes n lean back!

    • TA

      November 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Me too dear, I go as the spirit leads. Lol 🙂 Truth is I don’t mind my business ever. Hahhaha. I eavesdrop to other customer’s phone conversations, banter between saloon staff, random gists between folks in the elevator,you name it. I listen and observe. LOL. Am that chic at the hospital waiting room,spa reception,airport lounge with earphones plugged on but guess what? I am not listening to anything! 🙂 I am listening to what is going on around me so how can I possiblyi complain about chit chat, if I get bored with the gist,as in the gist nor sweet me. Ehen, I now turn my attention to the book with me or on my tablet. Hehehe. If cab man or saloon chic/guy try to make small talk with me, I oblige them a bit. If it goes on for too long, well I always have my book and earphones to the rescue.

  18. nammy

    November 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    When I visit the hairdressers, especially if its the one in my Neighbourhood, I get all the area jist and I love it I just dont contribute much just the ” really? “, “na wa oh” and the likes- when anyone walks or drives past I get a full update, where the person stays, who he/she is dating or married to, the latest neighbourhood scandal the person was involved in, infact, I leave the hairdressers place knowing more about my neighbours than before. So yes, me myself and the gist loving me loves the small talk at the hairdressers place.

  19. anon

    November 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    i stopped reading when you mentioned barbers shop…..for the last 2 decades, i have bin going to barbers shop and i hardly speak or get spoken to, no gist nothing…barb, pay and go house finish

  20. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    November 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    My friend once had a different type of conversation with the hair dresser – that of the anal variety, with a voice over (prrrrrrruuuuuupruru), the unintended interjections (PKHU! KPHA!) and the sssssssilent messages, but you still caught …the drift. She was famora famora until she just shouted in protest after a particularly violent “outburst”. The incredulous part was when the hairdresser acted like she did not know what she was talking about.

  21. nwanyi na aga aga

    November 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I love saloon gist biko.. Loool!I do not contribute shaa cos I don’t want trouble but I love it die, You will hear the beginning and the end of your neighbors

    • Fountain of Paper

      November 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      It’s all fun and games till you’re the subject of tomorrow’s gist when your neighbours are getting their hair done too.

  22. chinco

    November 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I hate giving out hair extensions while I braid…I usually get the wrong amounts ..thank God I have a quiet fast braider who comes to my house n picks d extensions herself so I just watch movies on my tab to pass time

  23. benny

    November 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    What is saloon without gist? Lemme just be shaving my hair with razor at home then. I live for saloon gist. I want to know who impregnated who, who bleach, whose husband is creeping. I may not know the people they are talking about but the gist de sweet die. I can’t even lie

  24. made

    November 17, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I hope Aunty Ayo, Iya Sikiru, Iya Ahmed etc are readn dis and taking notes. ..

    • marian

      November 17, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      is it true aunty Ayo passed away?

  25. Ima

    November 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I’m currently exploring the chit chat that happens at salons and barber shops for a school project. It’s hilarious the stories I have heard. I realise that for people who live away from home (ethnic minorities for instance), this is one of the spaces they get to truly vent, let their guards down, and find out what opportunities exist in the communities in which they live. For some people, this is the only space they have friends and can call home. While I have never been one for salon chit chat, the last three months have been an eye opener for me, and I have grown to respect the role of salonists and barbers as counsellors, mentors, and great sources of information.

  26. Bemi L.

    November 18, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Lol! This was my experience yesterday. I love my hairstylist, she’s around my age and great company so I really don’t mind chatting with her. Yesterday was different, though. For some reason, my scalp was just really sensitive and tender as she braided my hair. I just wanted to suffer through the pain in silence and be done but madame stylist wouldn’t stop talking and asking me questions. That’s how I had to endure the pain while she kept talking and questioning me cos I didn’t want to be rude :((

  27. Anike

    December 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I love saloon gist die o. Cant help that. Hehehehhehehe

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