Friday, July 15, 2011

We are such stuff as reality television is made of.

Firstly, I'd like to point out that my title ends in a preposition.

More importantly, I'd like to find a way to connect back to loved ones who aren't within arms' reach anymore- and who, heaven knows, I'm awful at connecting with any other way.

The goal of this blog, I suppose, is to find a way to get all of my musings/inappropriate thoughts/hopes/confusions out and into a better, useful place. This way, I can unload while sharing, maybe grapple with things in a way that better serves personal growth.

Let the games begin.

I work for a fantastic salon: when I say fantastic, I don't mean "I say it 'cause they pay me to," I mean "fantastic." Think best-haircut-you-ever-had, mentioned-in-magazines, can't-take-walk-ins-cause-we're-booked-solid kind of place. The pay and perks are wonderful. My coworkers are kind, complex people who love what they do, and who have swooped me up, slapped some dye in my hair and called me one of their own. The only issue? I work for the front desk.

The front desk=the front lines.

I'll set the scene:

Lights up on a motionless salon foyer. Stainless steel glistens, wood counters shine, pencils have been sharpened to pointy perfection. A girl, 23, rests against the counter behind the massively structured front desk.

It's 8:29am on a Tuesday. The schedules have been printed. The drawer has been counted. There is peace.


Phone switches automatically from "night ring" to "in office."

Phone rings. Pick up. Appointment request. Computer system suddenly- and irreversibly- down. Second phone rings. Apologies and message-taking. Third phone rings. Apologies yet again and correction of message. Hang up phone. Attempt to pick up another call. Accidentally hang up on two calls in queue. Spill coffee over message book. Three phones ring at once. Pick one up. Speak. "Yeah?" Shit. "Sorry, um, thanks for calling, this is-"  consider lying about your name, "Brynne. How can I help you?" Appointment request. Phones all ringing. System still down. Explain that the system is down. Develop a sudden and inexplicable lisp during explanation. "I'm thorry, the computerth theem to be down right now, but I'd be happy to take your information and call you ath thoon as they're back up." Wait for response, which is a wet-sounding sigh. "No." Click.

No moment to collect yourself. No quiet time to reflect on the first time you've been hung up on- in, come to think of it, years. Instead, the steady ring if phones, the assaulting WHACK of the automatic stapler that has begun to eat your morning paperwork, and the dripping of lukewarm coffee onto your slightly odorous and too-tight shoes.

Welcome to adulthood.

If this weren't the norm, I suppose I wouldn't think so much about it.

I should specify: what astounds me is not the type or amount of work that comes with the job. I like sharpening pencils- in an almost unhealthy way. I like taking calls, and I even enjoy the pressure that stems from complications at work. I work well under pressure. Just not the kind applied by seven-figure salaried, big ringed, injected-and-perfected middle-aged women with tinfoil in their hair.

It's only a few a day, but they're there every day: the future candidates for "The Real Housewives of Chicago."

We have some wonderful clients, but their kindness is easily overshadowed by the downright cruelty of others. In four weeks of working at the salon, I've had a credit card thrown at me, been hung up on multiple times daily, had a woman tell me she would (I shit you not) kill herself if I couldn't get her the appointment she needed, and ,on the whole, been looked at as an office supply instead of a person with any sort of value.

The response from my coworkers, who have been very supportive but have grown tired of my shock: "You just need a thick skin."

A thick skin? A thick skin. I get it. I know what they mean. They mean, eventually, that I'll have to stop noticing that people look right through me, and that people throw things, that someone can lie through their teeth and blame me for their scheduling mistakes- and that I have to smile at them and tell them to have a wonderful day in response. I'll stop noticing and start not caring, if I try hard enough. The thing is, I don't know how to not feel badly when someone willingly tries to make me feel bad. Again, not all of them- most of the clients are WONDERFUL- but the beasts- I feel an overwhelming urge to let fly a "Listen, lady, you're the one who fucked up, here. I'm doing my best to correct your mistake, but if getting your hair done is this a matter of life-and-death to you, for god's sake,  go buy a box of Garnier and be miserable near someone else."

Does that mean I'd win? No. That would be cruel, too. I'm just not used to tending to wounds this deep on a daily basis.

We are such stuff...


  1. One of my cousins (smart and strong-willed...I think you know the type) got fired her first day as a waitress for telling a really unpleasant customer exactly what he needed to hear. So...probably good that you're keeping those things to yourself. Don't worry, though, you're tough and you're smart. You'll be running that place soon.

    Much love,

    P.S. I am glad, but not surprised, to see that you write as well and expressively as you speak.

  2. Knowing when to have the skin and when to drop the walls down is incredibly difficult - and can take a lifetime. But you're a strong lady, lady. The little victories can get you through those stressful front desk moments (speaking from experience). <3

    I love your pink layout.

  3. I look forward to more reports on the zany antics of a normal girl living in the Big City. I'm adding you to my Reader feed...