Going to the Airport


Our shop is located less than a mile from the small regional airport, so frequently we get airline employees and travelers. It’s common that my clients will be boarding a plane after their haircut. One man sat down and said that he would be doing just that. However, he said it in this manner:

“Can do you a fast haircut?”
“Yes sir, I’m usually pretty fast.”
“Well it’s 10:05 now. I need to be on a plane at 10:30.”

I did get him out in about 10-15 minutes. I have no idea, though, if he made his flight since he still had to get to the airport and go through security. I did what I could, but I recall the old saying “your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.”


Emergency haircut

A man came into the shop with literally half of his head shaved. He looked a little frantic. We weren’t busy at the time, so I was able to take him right back into my chair.

“Help!” he said. “My clippers at home just died, and I have a job interview today! I’m supposed to be there in half an hour, but I called and explained I had a problem.”

It was an especially important interview, as he had just moved here from out of state to care for his ailing mother. He was currently holding down a job at McDonald’s, and they were making him work on Thanksgiving. This job interview was his ticket out.

I wanted to laugh, but I really felt bad for the guy. It wasn’t a subtle difference either – the left half of his head was probably about 3 inches long, and the right half was less than half an inch. Nor was it symmetrical. But I got him all fixed up. He even decided he wanted to do a fade instead of an all over buzz, because if he has to pay for a haircut, might as well get something fancy.

Hopefully he gets the new job and uses some of his money to buy a decent pair of clippers (or better yet, come back to the salon.)


Yet another pet peeve: Arriving on time. Now, you can arrive early all you want, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to take you yet. The thing with the service industry is that – wait for it – we’re performing a service. Services that take time. Generally we have an idea of how much time each service takes, and so can plan accordingly. If you’re late, chances are that you’re now forcing other clients to wait, and forcing the stylist to lose out on money. (You’ve heard the saying that time is money right?)

Case in point: We officially close the shop the same time the mall closes, but because of the aforementioned services, we stop taking clients well before actual “closing time.” Haircuts take less time than color, which takes less time than foils, and so on. When someone called today asking what was the latest we would take a client for foils and a cut, I gave her an honest answer. It just so happened that the cutoff time was 6:00,  about half an hour from when the person was calling. I made sure to say at the absolute latest, because I had no idea what kind of hair the person had (longer, thicker hair takes more time). The woman on the phone said she’d try to make it. Well, since she didn’t make an appointment, I was free to take other clients – ones that were actually in the shop.

The appointed time came and went, and the person was a no show. My coworker went to lunch, and I continued taking walk-ins. About 15 minutes after the specified time, a woman waltzes in and lets me knows she was the caller.

1. She’s 15 minutes past the absolute latest I said I could take her,
2. I’m alone in the shop, and my coworker won’t be back for half an hour.
3. I’ve got another client in my chair already. (Getting just a haircut, no color.)

By the time someone would be free, it definitely wouldn’t leave enough time for either of us to do the requested service.

I explained this to the woman, and she protested “You said you could do it if I got here by 6!” Ignoring the fact that she was twisting my words, I reminded her that it is now 6:15. That’s 15 minutes past 6. It might seem like a negligible amount, but every minute counts, and I said 6:00 for a reason. Well she got all huffy and stormed out. Maybe she could find another salon to do her color for her in the limited time before the mall closed, and if so, bully for her. But I knew nobody in my salon could do it (and do it well), and since she already showed her attitude, it was probably for the best.

(When I went back to my client, she had heard the whole thing. She assured me that I wasn’t crazy, and as the other woman had acknowledged,  it was indeed after 6.)


I walked out of the back room of the salon to find a customer sitting at the sink. She said “Well, I’m ready!” This was the first I’d seen this customer, so I asked “ready for what? Have you been checked in already?”

*heavvy sigh* “A shampoo and a blow dry!” Everything she said to me had the distinct tone of  “you’re such an idiot” even though this woman had just come into the shop and sat down at the sink. I looked quizzically at my manager, who was in the middle of doing a haircut, and she told me to just use the one-time check in. That uses only the client’s first name, and does not track her for future visits. So I asked the customer her name, and exasperated, she said “Sister.” So that’s what I put.

I started the shampoo and was still wondering who this person was. In the middle of it, she suddenly sat up to answer her phone. It was so sudden that I was in the process of  rinsing her out, and ended up spraying myself because my target was no longer there. When she got off the phone, she looked back at me (still annoyed of course), and said “are we done here?” I said no, and explained that she was the one that had stopped the process. She sat back down and I continued. She reminded me to use conditioner, which not only is standard procedure both inside the salon and at home, but at that point was already done. .. I was toweling off her hair.

We went back to my station and I asked her how she wanted it styled. She gave a bunch of vague answers that somehow contradicted themselves, so I still didn’t really know. When I asked for clarification, the lady decided I was a deaf, retarded, 3 year old and shouted “UP, BACK, AND UNDER” all while miming the movements with exaggerated gestures. So I started styling it and the person got on her phone, because she was clearly too important for anything else. When she ended that call, she asked if I’d ever used a round brush before. When I said yes of course I had, she demanded that I use a different brush, because apparently when I said “medium size” she interpreted it as something other than the three options I gave her (small, medium, or large brush).

She got back on the phone, occasionally pausing to order me to get a curling iron, and then to get her a pen and paper. I didn’t have any paper, but I brought her a pen. Again, she was annoyed, and in her search for something to write on, she tore a paper neck strip out of the dispenser, sending many others falling to the floor, rendering them useless (since their entire function is to keep you sanitary). And of course, they are paper but not the kind that you can easily write on, so she threw it on the ground when her (my) pen didn’t work. During all this, she is moving around all willy-nilly, which is making it darn near impossible to style her hair. When she decided she didn’t like the job I was doing and told me to use the curling iron. Then she was annoyed that I had to go get the proper comb. Still, she yakked away on her phone, which were clearly very important business calls, and continued moving around. Once she put her feet on my counter and pushed the chair around. While I’m trying to curl her hair. With a hot curling iron. I had already asked her to stop moving, which of course she ignored, so this time I said “Ma’am, you need to stop moving while I have this curling iron next to your face, or I’m going to burn you!” It wasn’t meant as a threat – just a fact. That made her put the phone down and say “just do this side and I think we’re done here. I’m in a hurry. You have 10 minutes.” She got back on the phone and didn’t hear me remind her that she came to me for a service. 

When we finally finished, she threw the cape and neckstrip she had been wearing onto the chair and stormed over to the register. I gave her the total, which was $18, and she threw two crumpled up ten dollar bills at me. Literally threw them. Luckily when they hit me and the counter, they were only paper so they didn’t do the damage that she had intended. Then she stormed out the door, back on the phone. I took her $2 change as my tip and went back to clean up. Both of the other stylists in the salon took a break from their clients to come make sure I was ok. They had heard her be so rude (one could even hear her all the way from the bathroom), and were ready to cover me in case I needed a break. I appreciated that, and I also appreciated that my manager had heard me threaten her with the curling iron and was silently wishing I would burn her. (I did my best to avoid it, but to be honest, if I had accidentally burned her, I would not have felt badly about it.)

And to think, she will probably tell all of her important business associates about the awful service she received.

places to go

A six year old boy was sitting in my chair, and his parents let him speak for himself on what kind of cut to get. Unfortunately for me, this child was impatient and bossy.

It all started when I was combing through his hair. There were no tangles or anything – in fact, his hair was short enough that I was really just making it go in the same direction. He said “Ow ow ow!” which made me stop, and his mom (who was standing right there) looked over. Both of us knew I hadn’t actually done anything to hurt him, so I kept going.  He must not have liked that, because that’s when he started giving me orders about his haircut.  Knowing what you want in a cut is one thing, but when you are six and don’t understand what a hairdresser does, it’s a different story.

“I think that’s good there. Can you stop now?” I explained to him that I couldn’t stop just there because I wasn’t finished with his cut. “Ok, just cut it one more time, and then we’re done here.”

“Well, it takes more than just one cut until I’m done.”

“Fine. Cut it three more times, and let’s get this over with!”

His mom laughed in that “isn’t he precious” sort of way, and I laughed too. But he kept saying things like that to get me to stop, so it began to get annoying. Keep in mind, he was in my chair for probably 15 minutes – a long time for a six year old, apparently. When I finished (after numerous cries of “aren’t we done yet?”) I finally set him free. He wasn’t even that happy to be done, just annoyed that I had taken part of his day.

high maintenance

Sometimes  a client comes in, and she is the worst client ever. She’s not mean, she’s not rude, but she has an attitude that says I am here to serve her. I guess because she’s paying a small fee.

One such lady came in today. Her hair was piled in a bun on top of her head, she set her bag down wherever she felt like it, and curled up in the chair and started texting.

So I had to say the following:
“Can you put your feet flat on the ground, please? And take your sunglasses off? And I need to put this cape on you, so I’m going to cover your hands & phone for a second. Is it ok if I move your bag over to this chair? And I need to take your hair down.”

She complied, but with a heavy sigh that said I was inconveniencing her. But really, all of those things would be inconveniencing me. So I got her hair down and brushed, her bag and sunglasses out of my way, and her sitting in a position that would allow me to cut her hair straight. Her hair was actually really long –  most of the way down her back. I could tell just by looking at it that she hadn’t cut it in several months. So I asked her what we were going to do. Take off the split ends? That would be probably 2-3 inches. No, she only wants half an inch cut off. I tell her that that little amount won’t actually help her hair any. Hair averages about half an inch of growth a month, so when you go (she said) 4 months without a trim, mathematically, you need to take off 2 inches. And her hair needed more than that.

But she didn’t want to lose any length. Now I can understand that people are wary of hairstylists that take off too much, but believe me: when your hair is that long, nobody will notice an extra inch or two, especially if it makes your hair look so much healthier. But she wouldn’t have it. So I went through all her hair and just cut off a tiny bit. Of course it didn’t look any better. So I convinced her to let me take more off – effectively doing a full second haircut. We were able to compromise at me taking about an inch off total. It wasn’t as much as she needed, but it did help make her  hair look better.

After all the prep work I had to do with her, and then going through her very long hair twice, plus discussion time, she was in my chair about an hour.She made this known when she was paying and said something along the lines of “Gawd, it’s already 3!”  I admit, that is a much longer haircut than it should have been, but it’s not like I did that out of enjoyment. But because I was so slow and such a pain to her, she didn’t leave a tip.

It was clearly all my fault.

In a hurry

I work in a place that is pretty quick on haircuts, especially if you take the first available stylist. But I noticed one guy looking at his watch a lot during his cut, so I asked him if he needed to be somewhere.

“Well, I’m technically at work right now. I’m out on a pizza delivery and thought I’d swing in real quick for a haircut. Are we almost done?”

Hopefully he delivered the pizza before he came to see me.