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.



A girl came in today and needed a change. She’d previously had the “Rihanna,” which is shaved on one side, long on top, covering one eye.  However, it had grown out and no longer looked awesome. She explained that she wanted it evened out and blended, but wanted to lose as little length as possible. I could tell she was picky, but we seemed to be getting along well.

As I was cutting we were talking and she asked how long I’ve been doing hair. I admitted I was still fairly new at it. Apparently that was a mistake, as suddenly her entire demeanor changed. She tensed up, and I could see the nervousness in her eyes every time I took a snip.

After I had finished, she messed with it a lot, then decided she wanted to go entirely a different direction. Now instead of keeping her length, she wanted a Posh Spice. So I started in on what was pretty much her second haircut, and she started crying. One of my coworkers was walking by as this happened, so she stopped to help. The girl explained that since I was new at this, she was nervous. We both reassured her that even though I’m new, I’m still good at my job. (There are numerous times I’ve had to prove myself – getting licensed, getting that job, etc.) But the girl said her last haircut was bad, and she was a model with a photoshoot in a few days, and “this is just all so stressful!” Again, we reassured her – a haircut is not supposed to be stressful. It’s supposed to make you feel pampered and beautiful. She apologized, wiped her tears, but stayed nervous.

Luckily my coworker kinda took over from here. She would do a good portion, then give me instructions and come back in a few minutes. The problem was, whenever my coworker would leave, the girl would start messing with her hair again, turning her head while I was still trying to cut. She obviously had no respect for me as a stylist, even though I had done nothing wrong except admitting that I was new.

But eventually we got her to a place where she was pleased with her hair. She kept messing with it the entire time, but then said “yeah, that’s good.” I made her promise me, which made her smile, which was a good sign. When I was satisfied that she was satisfied (and not just trying to leave), I took off her cape and walked her out. She apologized again for crying, and assured me that she was ok now. She even left a nice tip, which of course I split with my coworker that had helped me.

The moral is
1. Just because someone is new, doesn’t mean they are bad at their job.
2. Just because one stylist was bad, doesn’t mean they all are.

In fact, I would almost rather be known as the stylist that saves your hair from the ones who ruin it.

Are you sure?

The problem with high fashion magazines is that they are not real. We have them in the shop to use as jumping off points (nobody really wants those right?), but most people understand that their hair won’t look exactly like that. There is a team of hair, makeup, and wardrobe professionals, plus a professional model and photoshop. Not to mention that everyone’s hair is different, like the 20 year old white woman in the photo versus the 5 year old Mexican girl in my chair.

The girl’s hair was long and straight, and she wanted a very short, asymmetrical cut. I asked her and her mom several times: “Are you sure you want to cut this much off? Are you positive you want to lose like 10 inches of hair?” They both assured me several times that they were. so I cut all the length off and moved to the bangs. I made them look cute, but the mom said “no, I want them exactly like the picture. The picture is shorter.” I asked again if she was sure, and I even said “I don’t want to take the bangs that short.” but she insists. Exactly like the picture. Lo and behold, as soon as I take them shorter, the mom gasps. She tells her daughter (in Spanish) that the cut is horrible and now she’s ugly.

So many things wrong with this.

1. The girl will never be ugly. She is absolutely sweet and adorable with her toothless grin, and one of the best behaved children to ever sit in my chair.
2. Why would you tell her she’s ugly? Now you’re stressing her out and possibly giving her self confidence issues.
3. Bitch, I speak Spanish. Even if I didn’t, I know the word “horrible.”

Then the mom tells me “just stop. We need to go now.” I’ve gotten in trouble before from a mom leaving before I was ready (and then coming back angry of course), so I wouldn’t let her. She can’t leave until I’m finished. But she protests every time I touch the girl’s hair. I’m flustered, so I step back and get my coworker to assist. she does the finishing touches on the cut, and they appear to be satisfied. No tip of course, but you know I would have given it to my coworker. (I told her I do owe her lunch though.)

My coworker told me later that she heard me asking “are you sure?” all those times, so she knew something was up. I’m thankful she understood my flustration and was willing to help.

Another Pet Peeve

Adding to my ever-growing list of pet peeves:

The people who tell me how to do my job. I hate when anyone (especially a  customer) tells me how to do my job, but I find it especially bad when I’m cutting someone’s hair.

These are different from the backseat cosmetologists I mentioned in my last post, because those people think that they learned by osmosis or something. These people just assume they know, because  it’s one of those things that looks easy until they actually try it and they eff everything up because it’s actually quite complicated. This is why we go to school for 18 months and have to be tested and licensed by the state.

If I’m in a good mood when someone tells me how to do my job, I’ll smile and nod, but keep doing what I do. If I’m already cranky, however, you will not get a nice response out of me.

The Repercussions of Asking for Help

I’m still pretty new to the profession of hair, but I think in general I do pretty well. Luckily, if I need help, the girls I work with are there for me. That happened today. I was doing  a cut on a 9-year old girl, and there was one piece that was giving me trouble. So I called over one of the girls that wasn’t busy and asked for advice. She showed me how to accomplish what I wanted, and it was nice to see this cut done rather than try and guess.

However, I could tell that the parents weren’t pleased that I asked for assistance. Though that doesn’t make sense because wouldn’t they rather leave happy – even if I have to ask for help – than me just keep hacking away, ruining their daughter’s haircut, and probably causing them to make another trip (either back to my shop or to another one altogether)? I’m not ashamed that I asked for help. Life is about constantly learning.

But when it came time for them to pay, they went to the effort of marking a big fat ZERO for the tip. I was going to give the tip to my coworker anyway, but thankfully they saved me the trouble by making sure I knew they were unhappy. So even though I didn’t get any financial gain from the experience, at least I learned how to the cut, which I’m sure will be more useful in the long run.

Mom’s not in a hurry for that

A mother brought her 7 year old son in for his first “big boy” haircut. He’d had his hair cut before, but it was still long (and an awful bowl cut). At first, she just wanted it out of his eyes, and trimmed everywhere. So I did that. But the child kept insisting he wanted it shorter, so finally she gave in, saying “he’s old enough now to make up his own mind. I’ll pay you extra for your time.” So I went a little shorter, more of a “boys” cut.

When I was almost done, the mom got up and walked away, without saying a word. It turns out she had gotten one of my coworkers to ring her out, even though I was about 2 minutes away from being finished. When I did finish, I walked him over to get her approval. She didn’t even look at it but said “yeah that’s fine.” And they left.

Not only did she not “pay me extra for my time” she didn’t even tip me. I’m not sure if she didn’t like what I had done, or she was suddenly in a hurry or something, or she was suddenly overcome by emotion on seeing her child grow up, but she left without saying a word.

Pet peeves

I am positive this will be an ever-growing list.


1. Helicopter parents

You know the ones. They’re all up in your business, telling you how to do your job, because clearly they know what’s best for their little angel. But they probably won’t discipline him or help him to sit still.

2. Overbearing wives / girlfriends

No offense to those members of my gender, but seriously – Girls, let your man have his own say in his haircuts. He’s an adult. He should not have to ask you if it looks ok. When I ask what he wants done, he should not have to say “ask her.” He should be able to look in the mirror and judge for himself whether or not he even needs a haircut, and then if so, whether or not he is pleased with it.

3.  Perfectionists / Nitpickers

And no, I don’t mean nitpickers in the literal sense. I prefer that people with lice don’t sit in my chair at all.

I mean the people that tell me I’ve “missed a spot” when I’m clearly not finished with their cut. If you are still sitting in my chair, wearing a cape, and my shears are still in hand, that’s called I’m not finished with your haircut yet. If I take you up to the register to pay, and you notice that one side is longer than the other, then yes, I did miss a spot. But that doesn’t happen since I double, triple, and maybe quadruple check it. Let me do that before you butt in.

I wish I could complete both sides of your head simultaneously, but as of writing this, I do not yet possess that power.


more to come…..