miscommunication

A guy came in and asked if we give military discounts. We do, so he sat in my chair. He wanted a military fade, 0 to 2, but not high and tight. I clarified where he wanted the fade to start, touching his head as I listed off each clipper guard. When I said #2 guard, which is the longest point of his fade (1/4 inch), I grabbed the whole top of his head and said “and the number 2 up here?” He agreed. He did not say anything else about the top.

So I started off shaving his hair, which was probably about 4 inches long. After I’d already done a few strokes (far beyond the point of no return) he said “Oh – I didn’t want you to touch the top at all.” I stopped. “But you said military fade with a 2 on top…” He insisted that he hadn’t, and that to him a fade just means the sides. I didn’t want to argue, so I didn’t mention how I repeated it back to him indicating the 2 on top. I apologized profusely and continued on with the cut.

Needless to say, he didn’t leave a tip. But hopefully he (and I) learned a valuable lesson in communication.

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Another too young

I’ve said before that some kids are just too young to get their hair cut. Yes, we are professionals, and cutting children’s hair is part of our job, but some (like me) don’t have children of our own and have little exposure to other people’s children, so we are not trained to handle kids that just won’t sit still, especially around sharp objects.

One such child came in the other day. He was two years old, and already crying by the time he sat in my chair. Actually, by the time his father sat in my chair and held the little boy.  And I mean held because the boy would not stay still. He was using his feet to push off his father, using his hands to cover his face (and hair), and wriggling away towards his mother.

I got the majority of the length off (the parents insisted I use scissors and not clippers), but I told them I didn’t want to cut around his ears, as my shears are very sharp and his tender little ears were moving around quite a bit, even with both parents holding him down. They insisted, however, even using my most hated phrase “I’ll tip you well for your time.” (They never do – a dollar is not what I consider a good tip.) So I gave in, and I applied some force of my own to hold the child still as I very carefully cut around his ears.

Then he whipped his head to the right. I was standing to his right, with my shears open, right at what turned out to be eye level. Luckily I was semi-prepared for such a movement and was able to pull my shears away just in time. But I still came very close to stabbing a 2-year old child in the eye with my very sharp (and expensive) scissors. After that, I refused to cut any more. The cut was far from perfect, but it was the best I could do with a screaming, moving, toddler. And that last cut was too close for comfort. I told the parents very plainly that I was not doing any more. They tried to convince me, acknowledging that it was nearly impossible (and dangerous), and trying to bribe me with tips again. I flat out refused and assured them that whatever tip they gave me would never cover the trauma of accidentally hurting a child, which is more of a possibility with their son than I had ever encountered before. They were dismayed, but finally gave in. Their son’s hair didn’t look terrible, it was just a little bit longer around the ears. But you know what? His vision remained in tact.

I stand by my decision. Sure, there is a toddler out there with a not-quite-finished haircut, but I will defend myself and face any repercussions, rather than risk mortally injuring a young child. Though that would teach the parents when too young really means too young…

 

 

(kidding about that last line, of course.)

VIP

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.

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.

Breakdown

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.

divine intervention

Today I had a lady in my chair that was quite chatty. She told me all about how God had told her to move to this town, and went into detail about all the reasons that she knew that The Lord was speaking to her. I don’t mind people being religious, you’re free to believe what you want to believe. Plus, it kept her occupied so I didn’t have to make small talk about the weather or whatever.

Until she asked if I’d accepted Jesus into my life. I told her that I do not speak about religion or politics with my clients (true). She apologized, understood, and explained that “its her whole life.” I could tell.

She respectfully changed the subject and asked if I had a family. I replied that my family lives on the other side of the country, as they did not move with me. “No husband, no kids? You’re all by yourself here!” Well I’m not actually alone, I have a lot of great friends. She pondered this for a while, and said “you seem like a really happy person.” I told her that I try to be.

“I’m just amazed that you are so happy and independent, without a husband or having God in your life.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that. Even if I was feeling snarky (but I wasn’t, because she was still very nice), I wouldn’t have had a response. Luckily at that time, I had finished her cut so we could talk about her hair again. She loved what I had done, so that was good. As I was ringing her up, she explained how God had brought her to me today because He knew that I would give her the cut she wanted. She told me to keep the change (which was a hefty tip) and explained that The Lord had told her to do that as well.

So, thank you Jesus, for that.