My name is Karl Smith, I am a devoted family man, and work in the travel industry in New York City. Most of my days are long and stressful, with the majority of time spent fielding airfare and hotel inquiries, catering to clients' changing itineraries, and developing new business opportunities. Competition from travel websites and other travel agencies makes the last of my main responsibilities especially challenging. Despite the many demands at work and at home, however, I try my best to maintain my appearance, e.g., hair, muscle tone, and have a good social life.
One Sunday morning, about a week before Christmas, after a long night out with friends and the sun just beginning to peek above the horizon, a good pal of mine, Thomas, an investment banker specializing in mergers and acquisitions, and I decided to eat an early breakfast at a diner located in Midtown Manhattan to refuel from celebrating everyone's good happenings of the past year. After placing a double order of scrambled eggs and cheese, slightly burnt toast, and home fries and engaging in a light-hearted debate on a couple of the city's sports teams, Thomas began to talk about some of the issues that he was facing in the office and in his personal life. While I found myself able to politely dismiss most of them as trivial or a nonissue, one of the things that he mentioned did strike a chord in me: With a hint of sadness in his eyes, Thomas said that the pressure of an ever-increasing workload at his job had taken a heavy toll on his hair the past few months, and he would try almost anything to promote hair growth on his bright, shiny temples.
My friend, in fact, also gently wondered for a minute whether there are any new, unproven hair growth supplements or topical solutions available on the market that he could take or apply to his scalp, respectively, to quickly regrow the hair which he had recently lost, but even though I did not know nearly as much about the hair growth process then as I do now, I knew from reading health and fitness magazines that overnight miracles do not exist and cautioned him to beware of any products making such claims. Combining the soft tone of voice used to convey his inquiry with the complimentary nature of Thomas' statements regarding my knowledge of diet, exercise and healthy living (we exchange information about these subjects almost weekly), I opined that he really wanted me to recommend him a hair supplement or two that I heard can single-handedly lead to rapid regrowth yet I could not since I consider knowingly misleading someone long term a lot worse than speaking sincerely and perhaps putting a damper on their spirits in the short term. The frustration and disappointment that one often feels after using a product or service that vastly underdelivers on its promises, I believe, far outweigh the discouragement and disheartenment sometimes caused from receiving a little friendly advice.
Thomas appeared a bit apathetic after hearing my response, but deep down, I think that he appreciated my honesty. A brief conversation about our plans for the upcoming week then ensued, highlighted by parties to attend and presents to buy loved ones, and after eating a dessert of warm apple pie topped with cinnamon, I paid the bill, and the both of us stepped back into the city's cold, crisp winter air. Glancing at the other groups of club goers and bar patrons gathered along the route to the Times Square subway station, Thomas seemed to find solace in the fact that virtually all the men we passed by were suffering from some degree of hair loss; I remained reticent upon seeing his reaction, however, as many of them, in my opinion, could have benefited from hair growth to the crown and temporal regions of their scalp.
Reaching the street corner where my old college buddy would descend to catch the train home, Thomas and I wished each other a happy and safe New Year, firmly shook hands, and parted ways with the promise to meet again soon. I then took off in a brisk one-mile walk to my apartment Uptown; I hoped to sleep for a couple of hours and make a long overdue trip to the hair salon before heading to the office in the afternoon to follow up with a few clients and handle several last-minute reservations.