I was thinking back to my former career in hairdressing and some of the situations I met along the way, and found myself feeling as mortified in this one memory, as I had felt the day that it happened! I had moved to a new town and was starting a new job at a very outdated salon, and had to build a new clientage since I had been away from the field for some time. Naturally, the order of things is to “network,” get your name and business card out there, and offer specials, and happily encourage potential customers to book appointments with you!
Fortunately, I lived in this new town for around a year, and got to know many people in that short time, so I went to where I knew I would see them and started sparking their enthusiasm and willingness to come see me at the local salon for a haircut. A good handful of these friends booked their appointments with me, right there, on the spot, and I would see them next week, the day I start!
Next week rolls around, and I’m at the salon, prepping for the day’s work; and wondering if I could find ways to be “OK” with the dreary…terribly outdated…and deserted place of business! This new job, at this salon, was going to be a very huge challenge. The peaches and cream colored salon had been there for well over 20 years, but so had the dated furniture, with its throwback to the 70s, and the same tile floors, so timeworn and dingy, even Clorox gave up on trying to re-whiten them! The pictures on the walls, two or three of them, were large makeshift objects of vinyl rollers glued to cardboards and spray painted in purple and blue hues, to look like something reflective of… hairdressing…! The only sound in the entire space came from a small tabletop radio, with silver knobs and a long antenna that unless you situated it in the right position, all you would hear was annoying scratching coming from its tiny round speaker. The phone never rung in that place, and when it did ring, it was usually the owner’s daughters looking for their mother. The owner was beyond elderly and for her own personal reasons refused to hang up her career in hairstyling or close the shop that saw its best days, years before other, more upscale salons moved in on her, across the street and down the street, overshadowing her forlorn store!
And so, here comes my first customer, ever, at this salon! I was, thrilled that my friend Quincy needed a haircut and showed up when he did, as this now would distract me from my wonderment about these matters. Except, Quincy showed up plastered, and I couldn’t believe it! I knew that he was, known, as the town drunk, but he wasn’t, inebriated, on the day that we booked his appointment! Fortunately, the salon was void of customers and my boss was in the back room, eating! I could save face! And yet, here he was, ripping his coat off and wobbling across the room towards me, so out of step, I had to go to him and guide him to the Shampoo sink, lest he falls and hurts himself.
“Chrissy,” he sputters, heartily when he noticed me, and crossed eyed; probably seeing several of me; and all too happy to see me!v But he smelled awful of liquor! And I knew right then that I had to move this service right along, as quickly as possible, and do so with my very heavy “businesslike” approach, so that he cooperates.
Over at my station, his head was a moving target that wouldn’t hold still for two minutes! I worked those sections of his hair as best I could when given the chance. And every now and again, he would pull his head away, look up into the mirror at me, and say, “Chrissy, what are we doing?”
“I’m cutting your hair, Quincy, or at least trying to!”
“No. No, Chrissy, what are we doing? I want to know. So tell me…now…”
I thought to myself, Oh God; help me! “I’m cutting your hair, Quincy, now please hold still so that it turns out right, OK?” I knew what he was getting at, but I wasn’t about to entertain not even the thought of it! With that, my boss emerged from the back room, and I, uncomfortable in the situation, quickly signaled her over to us, letting her know with my eyes that I need her authoritative presence in this case! She approached us quietly, and stood by, observing things as I introduced them and Quincy proceeded to tell us both about his undying love, respect, and devotion to me.
Needless, to say that Quincy left the salon that day with the worst haircut I had ever given anyone in my many years of practice! It was uneven, and no amount of gel and hairspray helped to cover up the mess! And I didn’t care to fix it; not under those conditions, and sent him on his way! This also was my first “show of talent” to my boss; she hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing my work in action prior to this, and my first model… my first customer has to, be the town drunk? Yes, because this could only happen to me!
Two hours later, who comes back? You got it: Quincy! At first, I thought he returned to criticize the work I did on his hair. Instead, I watch in amazement as he, drunker than before, rips his coat off, saying to me: “Sorry that I’m late for my haircut! I got, caught up down the street, in conversation with an old friend, and lost track of time.”
“Quincy,” I exclaimed, “I already cut your hair, two hours ago!” and then chuckled embarrassed as my boss looked on, eyeing me with suspicion! Earlier, Quincy paid the bill and gave me a large tip, and my boss remarked that perhaps I should not have accepted it since the man wasn’t in his right mind.
Huh? I laughed quietly to myself!
“You did?” he says, dumbfounded, as I nodded my head, up and down, agreeably, and wondering what I have gotten myself into here! “Oh, well, then I’m here to get a shave!” he announces, and stammers, swinging one leg in front of the other as he drowsily tries to make his way over to my station…
Yes, this was my most embarrassing moment in hairdressing, but more so, because my boss, hugely entertained by it, felt the need to blab about it to the co-workers that later showed up to work, and to their customers too, and to the other business owners neighboring her salon on either side. “You had to see what happened here today,” she told everyone, “Christina gets her first customer, and it was the town drunk!” she laughed, while, indeed, this could only, happen to me.