Do you like to chat at the salon?


Posted in News on September 23rd, 2011 by Reagan

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My friend, Jana, did a mini interview with me about my job a few months ago. One of the questions she asked me, was how to avoid sounding rude if you want to get your hair done in peace and quiet, instead of chatting with your stylist the whole time you’re in the chair.

I only wrote a few sentences when answering Jana’s question, but it was really such an important one. The personality and social part of my job is a big chunk of it. If I’m not memorable to my clients, they might call the salon when they need a clean up and say “give me anybody”.  But I also really enjoy talking to my clients. There are times when I look at the schedule and see a specific person that I love to talk to, and it makes my whole day.

So, I try asking a few questions at the beginning of the appointment, and depending on how they answer, I’ll know if they are chatters or not. I’ll say “What do you do for work?” and they might say “I work in finance” if they aren’t a talker. And if they ARE a talker, they might say “I work in finance. I work downtown at _____. I specialize in _____” and then go on from there. Usually I try out two or three questions and if they are still just ‘yessing’ or ‘no-ing’ then I think they probably want me to shut the H up. But if it’s been 5 minutes and I already know where they went to college, how many roommates they have and what their favorite Italian restaurant is, they are probably chatters.

If you’re not a chatter, my best advice is to bring a prop. The best props are a book/magazine or a laptop/phone. You can just pretend to be busy with those guys even if you’re not. I used to blow dry Joy Behar’s hair, and she would bring in several of these items. Newspapers, her blackberry and a little note book to write all of her ideas in. She has the hair of pretty much 6 adult people, so she really needed all that material. I think we only said 10 whole sentences to each other ever. She is friendly and sweet, but very busy. She was a pro at getting her downtime without any mixed signals.

I had two experiences recently with this. One girl at the end of her haircut said “I love it! Plus you’re a talker, so I’m for sure coming back to you.”, and the other pulled out her book while I was getting her a tea. I didn’t say a word to her until I needed more information about how she wears her bangs.

Most people aren’t so obvious with whether they want to talk or not, so I’m curious, what do you like? Do you come to the salon excited to catch up about your vacations, kids, work/love life? Or do you want to close your eyes and have your hair combed and snipped/blow dried in peace?

[Photo: Jacob Breinholt]



44 Responses to “Do you like to chat at the salon?”

  1. Rae Says:

    I’m curious to see what people will say. I’m typically not a chatter, but you’re my friend so I like to chat with you. :) And as you know, my girl from back home started doing my hair when I was 15, and now does both my parents’ hair, so she’s like a member of the family. I only see her about once a year now and it’s like a therapy sesh. I find my hair cut doesn’t take long enough because there’s still so much more to talk about.
    But a stranger? Eh. Unless for some reason we totally hit it off, I’d rather just do my thing, but I’m that way when it comes to traveling as well. I know some people really like to get to know the people they’ll be on an airplane next to for 5 hours, but I’d rather just chill the f out, ya know?
    Do people really bring in laptops??? That sounds horrible.

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  2. Amanda Blair Says:

    I never talked to my stylist until I started going to you. i would always read a magazine or book. It wasn’t even on purpose but whenever there is an opportunity for me to just read for an hour, I’m taking it. Now that I go to you and we are friends, I look forward to chatting with you and catching up. But sometimes when you cut my hair, I wonder if you just want me to shut the H up so you can just relax and do your thing, because you have to be all chatty kathy all day and because it’s me you can just relax. So if you ever want me to zip it, let me know!

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  3. Andrea Says:

    I talk usually because I feel awkward not talking. My stylist is an older married man with kids who I don’t have much in common with and probably wouldn’t be friends with in real life (just because we have such different lives, he’s a nice guy) and he talks to me non stop! But it’s a very forced conversation. I wish he would let the silence stand :) He’s a great stylist usually so I just keep going back!
    If I were going to someone who I had more in common with and I might actually be friends with in real life I’d probably chat away, just because I think the conversation would be a lot more natural.

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  4. Becki D. Says:

    Oh man. I’m so glad you came back to this question! I am *not* a chatter. Because dangit, if I am at the salon, it was after much finagling over who would watch my little monkeys who fill my days with endless auditory input and I want to CHILL. I don’t mind a friendly chat with the hairdresser, but I DO hate it when it’s clear we really don’t have much to talk about but the hairdresser still feels the need to try to keep a conversation going. Then it’s awkward and work and that I just wanted some peeeeace and a gorgeous head of hair. Is that horribly rude of me? I hope not, cause there is seriously nothing better than being able to sit back, let my mind go blank and just enjoy the total pampering that is someone else managing my mane.

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  5. Mary Says:

    I love to chat. I also love my stylist. But I feel like she spends as much or more time chatting with the other stylists as with me, and that gets on my nerves at times. Her station is next to the ‘bar’ where clients sip a drink while waiting for their appt and where the stylists mix up their concoctions for coloring hair. So it’s a busy area. I guess what I’m saying is… I would like to have her attention while she’s being paid to work on my hair!

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  6. Julie Says:

    I had one hairdresser who seemed to know everything about everyone and I loved chatting it up with her to get the latest scoop. But, most of the time I like to just sit and get my hair cut and blow dried in peace. It’s not because I don’t like to talk or because I’m not a chatter, but I have a really hard time hearing what a stylist is saying while water is gushing around my head or a blowdryer is roaring by my ear, so I’d rather not go to the extra effort to have a conversation when I just wind up smiling and nodding because I’m tired of saying “what?” all the time.

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  7. fiona Says:

    up until i met my current stylist i was a total mute in the chair. i actually felt uncomfortable talking to my stylists when it came to talking about anything other than my hair, i would just want to sit there and be quiet. but then i met gina, (my current stylist) and things have never been the same, i, slash WE talk & talk & talk. and now she’s a good friend and we spend time together outside of the salon and i love it!! i think it helped so much to be able to find someone i could connect with and talk to-i have never been happier with my hair to top it off. i attribute all the positive hair “stuff” to the fact that i love her and that i can talk to her and feel comfortable :)

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  8. Danae Says:

    My husband used to make me come along to all his haircuts for this exact reason– he HATES trying to make small talk with the stylist. This went on clear until I was dragging myself and 3 children to every hair cut and had to put a stop to it. Personally, I like a stylist who acts interested in me and lets me talk about myself, not so much the ones that keep turning everything back to their drama.

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  9. Amy Says:

    Getting my hair done is a huge thing for me and it needs to be done by somebody I can trust. I want to know the stylist that is doing my hair. I want to know if we are on the same page with things and make sure the stylist gives me what I want. I feel that if they don’t know anything about you then they can’t make accurate judgment about how to do your hair. It’s the small things that make a good hair cut, for example my stylist now gave me longer layers because she knew that I have to have my hair pulled up for my job every day. I never told her that but she just did it because we had a chat about my job one day. So I would definitely say I am a chatter.

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  10. kati Says:

    my stylist and i are old friends, so i definitely chat and catch up. i’m headed there right now, in fact :)

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  11. Sabrina Says:

    I get along really well with my stylist, so we definitely chat it up. We always have so much to catch up on whenever I’m there! But if I went to someone I didn’t know well or have much in common with, I’d probably prefer to just read or something.

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  12. Allison W Says:

    I am a big chatter and I like going to someone I can talk to. My stylist has become my friend and I’m excited to get my hair done because she is really good, but also because I can catch up with everything that is going on and she asks me about my life. It’s sort of like a mini-therapy session every time I go. haha I love it. :)

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  13. Stephanie Says:

    I love chatting with my stylist! I went to a few different places feeling uncomfortable and at times like the stylists thought I shouldn’t even be there (that’s the worst!). Now that I’ve found current stylist I’m sticking with her like glue. She’s fun to talk to, got my hair through a pregnancy when I felt like my hair resembled cousin it, and when I thought I might go bald from post pregnancy hair loss, and she is great at suggesting new things I might not thought to have tried before!

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  14. Kari Says:

    It depends on my mood, but generally I’m not a chatter. I guess it also depends on how good the stylist is at being a conversationalist. I suck at it, so I don’t want to worry about that when I get my hair did.

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  15. Shanna Says:

    it all depends on what services i’m going in for…just a trim? chatter away! but if i’m going for a whole new look i’ll talk a little bit but i really want the stylist to concentrate hard on my hair. what really irks me though is when the stylists start talking to each other! i stopped going to a salon for that reason! every time i went in they’d have these long chatty sessions about their lives and a few times would stopped cutting hair to stand and talk! i wasn’t paying $300 for a talk show!

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  16. Mary Sue Says:

    I love talking to my stylist – so much that we started a book club together! I remember our first meeting and the reason I loved her so much was because of the chatting (oh, right, and the awesome hair cut). She was also the first person who asked and really listened to what I like about my hair and what I wanted. I have always been indecisive about cuts, but it helps when I can explain things like “I like it to have movement and look soft” and she can give me a cut that works. Besides, literally no one else in the world is interested in how I feel about my hair.

    I also see a waxer who talks a lot about her crazy life. it helps! Although, I have seen people who I just don’t click with and I don’t want them to keep talking. I probably do the yes/no thing and reach for a magazine when I don’t feel up to it.

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  17. Elisabeth Says:

    I’m not really a chatter but I do like to talk with hairdressers, mostly because I’m curious about other people and their jobs. However the last three time I went to the salon (I change salons everytime), the hairdressers were super silent. It felt weird, I don’t think I come off as icy though…

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  18. Julie Says:

    I do like chatting! But I get a little nervous about it sometimes.. It seems very one sided, like LET’S TALK ABOUT ME! So then I try to ask the person doing my hair some questions but then I’m like, I BARELY KNOW YOU AND I’M ASKING YOU PERSONAL QUESTIONS. And I feel like because I’m the client they’re forced to answer whether or not they want to. Ha, I just never know if it’s appropriate to ask the same questions back to the hairdresser. Maybe he/she doesn’t feel like talking? Or maybe I’m just a nervous person.. Ha!

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  19. Amanda Says:

    I am totally a chatter!

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  20. Lisa Hendrick Says:

    I pretty much want to close my eyes and have my hair combed and snipped/blow dried in peace.

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  21. Stephi Says:

    I worked as a receptionist at the same salon for several years, on and off, so it’s where I always get my hair done. I’m bound to chat with everyone while I’m there, but while I’m in the chair I get so relaxed I’d rather just enjoy the experience. HOWEVER, I get very irked if no one who knows me asks how one of any of my three kids are doing, but I hear about all eight of theirs or their grand kids or nieces or nephews. So, I guess I’m okay with chatting as long as it isn’t one-sided. But I do like the almost-as-good-as-napping time, too. :)

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  22. Aubrey Says:

    I’m friends with my stylist. Our lives are kind of different now so we really only see each other at the salon. I love to chit chat and catch up on every single detail of our lives. With other similar things (physical therapy, laser, etc.) the silence is kind of weird and awkward, and there’s nothing worse than awkward.

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  23. Sarah Says:

    For awhile I was going to a stylist who had gone to high school with my brother and I feel like we were always making awkward “how’s the family small talk”. I’ve recently started going to a new girl who is a friend of a friend, so I enjoy talking to her and getting to know her cause I know we’ll bump into each other now and then.

    The only part of the haircut where I don’t want to talk is when I’m getting shampooed. I just want to sit there and enjoy those few minutes of someone else washing my hair cause it never feels like that when I do it at home. :)

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  24. cailean Says:

    I had a different experience recently – I went to a new salon and the stylist was the one who would NOT talk! I tried to engage her in conversation and she was pretty much “Mmm-hmm”-ing me back, so I stopped. It made for an awkward time so I am not eager to go back. So what to do when your stylist isn’t talkative?!

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  25. Cupboard Love Says:

    I’m not a chatter. People always try to draw me out into conversation, but I like to spend the time quietly just looking around and relaxing. My haircut time is one of the few “me” times I get so sometimes it’s nice just to sit and think.

    Plus, I’m very shy and kind of socially awkward so making random chitchat is always hard for me.

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  26. Tanya B Says:

    I love reading the comments so far. I would like to NOT chat and I am definetly a chatty person. However, I am rarely w/out my kids, so I would just like to “chill” and read as many magazines as I can w/out taking someone potty or digging for a snack in my purse. I do feel awkward trying to find a topic that we can both discuss — so much pressure. Same thing w/getting massages. Last time I had a massage, the girl NEVER shut up. I tried mmmmming and hmmming … but she never got the hint.

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  27. claire b Says:

    ive been scared of the hairdressers my whole life, kind of like some people are with the dentist.
    So i never used to chat, i sat in silence and shaking with fear for years,until thankfully a few of my friends became hairdressers and i let them do anything they wanted and i felt relaxed. Now i am a student hairdresser myself and im quite chatty but i know when someone just wants to chill out.

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  28. Carolyn Says:

    Have any of your clients ever made you cry??

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  29. Alana Says:

    I feel like it really depends. Honestly, ive gone to this expensive salon before and got a great cut in utter silence. I’m very particular about how i like my haircut and am not one who says “clean it up” or “just a trim” lol. i like to know what im getting. If i can tell my stylist what i want…(usually an inch off the bottom and very long layers in the front or if im getting bored maybe 2-4 inches off) and the stylist doesnt wanna talk 2 me but does a great job then yay! if the stylist can do a great job & is funny, interesting and friendly than thats even better! i just like to trust my stylist. ive been going to the same amazing girl for 2 years now, & we’ve become really friendly. i know i can relax, chat a little, & trust im in good hands. truthfully, if i get an even trim, good blowout, and have a nice convo with my super-sweet stylist, that just makes my day. btw am i the only one who asks for my trims by inch? others might ask for the dead ends off or a bob but im always so specific. lol i just wonder…

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  30. Michelle Says:

    I’m not a big chatter. My take on it is that I want my stylist to give full and complete attention to my hair. If I were going every 4 to 6 weeks to the same person, maybe there would be more of a talking relationship. But something tells me if you were doing my hair, we’d talk non-stop!

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  31. Mush Says:

    I get my hair done by one of my good friends, or my niece – so I definitely use that time to talk / catch up with them. Otherwise – if I’m getting my hair cut by someone I don’t know I’m usually pretty chatty – but it depends on my mood, and how interesting the hair dresser is. If you were doing my hair – I’m sure we’d have a non-stop chat fest. :)

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  32. Carmen Says:

    I’m a chatter. I love feeling like I know my stylist, that we’re buds, and that she gives a shit what my hair looks like. Due to a couple of moves across country, I’ve had to switch stylists a few times over the years and it was pretty traumatic (relatively speaking) to not have someone I felt completely comfortable with. Now I have a sweet, sassy chic doing my hair that actually attends the same college I work for, and all is right with the world again :) Plus, I have two little boys, work outside the home, and I’m in grad school, so I don’t have a lot of free time. I enjoy myself more when I’m hanging out with a friend than when I’m just staring at myself in the mirror. Besides I think it’s rude to not talk to someone who is grooming you. It feels strange to me to ask someone (paid or not) to wash me and not have some kind of friendship with them.

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  33. jeannie Says:

    oh, what a great topic. here’s me: i’m a chatty person but when i go to salons, i’d prefer to be left alone. i can page through the magazines i don’t buy but still love, in blissful silence. i can lose myself in that. if the magazines aren’t good (and i really wouldn’t be in a salon where they weren’t!) i will have a book i’m dying to read.

    but for some reason i end up talking – - and a little bit frustrated. i think i talk b/c the stylists talk and i feel like i’m being friendly. i like almost all of them, so it’s not like i mind the convo, but in a perfect situation i’d be left alone in companionable silence. i would utter a comment and not be fearful that it would open the floodgates of chatter. see, i don’t want to seem rude by ignoring them. and after you’ve been with someone a while, then there’s rapport, so if you act ‘closed down’ i worry that i might be hurting their feelings by not talking. heck, for all i *really* know it’s they who are being polite to me, and then the whole cycle begins.

    usually i’m left alone while the color is processing and then i’m in bliss. but all too soon, it’s time to rinse and then trim, or cut. so you can’t read during a cut: your head must remain up and still. so it’s a conundrum.

    my favorite stylist recently invited me to come into her new home “salon” (it’s really nice; her hubby built a room off the garage and she has it nicely designed to feel like an authentic salon. yes, she has good magazines :-) , too.). she had a baby and had left the salon she “abandoned” me at, lol. she jumped to a friend’s brand-new salon to support her business and her loyal clients followed along like lemmings (you know we hate to lose a great colorist and hair-cutter). she took probably just one appointment with us before announcing she’s off to maternity leave. i was happy for her, and okay to stay in that new salon. but my feelings soured there (i’ve never had such a negative experience anywhere and i’ve been in salons for longer than you’ve been alive, reagan!). i was floating about trying to find my “new person” when she contacted me and very nicely invited me to see her in her new home salon ONLY IF I WANTED TO. she wants it kept on the downlow, which is fine. I save a few dollars and she makes a good bit of cash (I should have been a hair stylist; another career i’ve always been interested in). my point is, i like her, for sure. and she, me. she’s hand-picked her new clientele as she doesn’t want “just anyone” traipsing through her home and using her bathroom (!). she’s very much the professional and her salon room feels like a real salon! but i can’t NOT talk to her! i mean, it’s just the two of us, there. so….I did page through a mag while my color was cooking, but not while she was applying. we talked. so: it is what it is.

    having said that, if I had my own way and it wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, i’d prefer to hang out in my own little world.

    some of the commenters have asked you a few questions that i’d love for you to answer!

    so, it’s weird, then, when one of your readers books an appointment with you. isn’t that what you said?

    love this topic!

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  34. hair re-growth for men Says:

    I am a chatter..So I like chatting at the salon.

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  35. Jenny Says:

    I can’t talk when I’m getting a wash/scalp massage because it’s a holy experience but after I come out of the post wash high I’m ready to talk. But I don’t mind pauses or silence inbetween conversation.

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  36. aly Says:

    love it. i see my cousin and it’s usually the only time we get to catch up. i feel like getting mine hairs did is supposed to be relaxing. and for me, relaxing is a diet coke, trashy magazines while i’m under the processor, and finding out who my cousin’s new crush is. i love chatting.

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  37. Carrie Says:

    I used to love the fact that my stylist, Jennifer, wasn’t chatty. It was great just sitting quietly. After about two years, though, I realized she wasn’t just quiet, she was rude. She never asked me questions or tried to make the experience nice – she just wanted it to be a silent robot haircut. Now I go to a regular Chatty Cathy and I love it. Getting my hair done is so fun and relaxing.

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  38. Jmae Says:

    I am both. I used to be a big time consistant chatter-but now with having kids I am a mix. Some days I NEED to chat to have an adult convo. Other days I NEED the silence because I’m about to loose my mind and might break down and have an unwanted and uninvited therapy sesh if I open my mouth! Thankfully the gals I use for my appts are all friends I know-and since it’s already my expected nature for me to be blunt-I just tell them if I plan to be silent and just ‘be’ that day. Just so they don’t think I’m being rude-or try and pry to see if I’m ok!

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  39. Beachbody Coach Says:

    I LOVE talking to my stylist! At the end of my appointment I feel like a new person…she is hysterically funny and so refreshing in this crazy world! Great post!

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  40. Jenny H Says:

    Definitely NOT a chatter! I ALWAYS feel bad about this though. I try and chat (my stylist is a chatter) until my stylist gets to the blow drying part and then pick up my book/magazine and read. I really just want an hour of relaxation but I don’t want to be rude either!

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  41. Erin Says:

    My first regular stylist when I graduated highschool and moved down to Cali used me in her hair shows all the time. My little sister and I both had really long hair so they used us for the up-do’s. I liked her but she would way OVER share everything about her personal life and she talked with her hands so she took FOREVER! When I got married my husband would complain because a trip to the salon would take 4 hours. Any way I finally divorced her and went through a few until I found my perfect match. I like my stylist Tracey so much that even though I’ve moved 2 states away I go see her at least once a year. (Okay so it makes it easy that my husbands whole family lives really close to her.) She and I have the perfect amount of gossip and silence going on. I love it. And she is so talented in both color and cutting. I always tell my friends that Tracey can make ANYONE look good. Even my mother-in-law who has hardly any hair at all.

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  42. KeRRi Says:

    I don’t mind a few opening questions to break the ice… but from there I’d like to just sit back and enjoy getting pampered! :)

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  43. Candice Says:

    I’m not a chatter. I LOVE to read, so I always bring my Kindle or a good magazine (or three) with me to the salon. I don’t mind a little “break the ice” chit-chat, and I definitely don’t mind answering questions about what I’d like done on my hair, but it really annoys me when I’m in the middle of reading, and my stylist interrupts me mid-chapter to talk about her dog or husband. I politely listen and then get back to my book as quickly as possible. I try to talk when she initiates it because I know she’s gotta be bored back there, doing my hair in silence, but I also have to remind myself that this is a service I’M paying for — to relax and be pampered! I’m not rude to her — she’s a nice girl — but I definitely don’t continue the conversation any longer than I have to.

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