What I Do While I’m at Work

Dear Future Stella,

My job (as a hair colorist) is great. I hope you have witnessed that in your life. It sounds really cheesy, but I get paid to do something I find very fun. I look forward to going and I spend my day being creative, laughing, listening, learning, and zoning out in my own world. Coloring hair is like knitting. Once you get through the consultation and the formulation, the rest is like auto-pilot-second-nature. Your hands take over and they just do their thing while your brain oscillates between listening to what your client is saying and forming its own thoughts. I will give you a little recap of my very crazy day today at the salon.

My first client was actually a co-worker’s regular customer but I was filing in while she was on vacation. We commiserated over having kids with summer birthdays and we both joked that we would have planned a little better had we known what a nightmare it is! We also had a laugh because we were both a little tipsy when we found out we were pregnant. I told her one of my favorite stories of when I found out I was pregnant and I needed to find an OB. Through the website of my insurance I discovered a list of doctors that were in my network.  I dialed a 1-800 number and proceeded to tell the person who answered the phone that I believed I was pregnant and needed to make an appointment. She kindly told me that I had called a suicide hotline. I wasn’t sure if that was a sign and part of me wanted to remain on the line and talk to her! Just kidding, Future Stella, although I was shocked and terrified that I was pregnant, I never wanted to take my own life. Those moments didn’t come until much later (roughly 9 months) when you wouldn’t stop screaming. Kidding. 

My next client is a single divorcee and we basically talk about men and how much they suck. To make her feel better l always make your dad sound like a total dick and not worth having. It’s fun because I get to say all the dumb shit he does and it seems to make her satisfied.

Client #3 is a longtime regular. She’s a therapist and so I like to turn the tables and ask her to talk a lot about herself. My theory is that I love getting my scalp massaged every now and then, so why wouldn’t she enjoy discussing the nightmares of her childhood?

Oh God, next client is one of those strange cat lovers. I made the mistake of telling her we had a cat (back when we did) and now that’s literally all we discuss. This is the first client today that I totally zoned out on and thought about you. Every once and awhile I would say things like “uh-huh”, “aw!” , and “that’s crazy.” All of those responses are always appropriate for any topic of conversation. I thought about you and wondered what you were doing. I tried to guess if you were still in your pajamas. I also remembered that I was low on face wash and needed to pick some up after work. 

My next client brought a book. When I see this it makes me party on the inside. Truthfully, I don’t mind talking or not talking, they are both great. I just don’t like when you don’t know which the client prefers. Bringing a book is like code for “I don’t want to talk.” It’s funny though, sometimes bringing a book is the same as telling someone not to laugh or not to look- It sometimes makes me really want to talk. I’m a total bookworm so I always want to know what the book is about and then I usually have a lot of follow up questions. It’s always the clients who bring books that I all of sudden remember a story that I want to tell them or am dying to know where they got their shoes. Today, though, I let her read and I became completely obsessed with the conversation going on next to me. Other people’s lives are truly fascinating.

My next highlight client is one that loves to talk about hair. We spend the whole time discussing trends, products, and techniques. You can tell she reads a lot of magazines and has a lot of opinions. Having picky clients is actually fun. It challenges me in a way that keeps me on my toes. The “do whatever you think” clients are awesome, but the ones who know what they want and expect exact results are extremely satisfying. 

The next client I had is someone I see a lot- a super regular. Due to the frequency of her visits, we basically know every single thing about eachother. There are a few clients that I allow into my very personal life, and she is one of them. No bullshit or pleasantries, we just get right to it. I filled her in on the last two weeks of my life, and I honestly believe she knows more up-to-date details on my life than my own parents. 

My next one was new which is always a wild card. New clients usually are there because they have been unhappy with their last person and that typically means “shit show that needs a ton of work.” Luckily, this one was a transplant from another city and had really cute hair. She was really sweet and told me about her upcoming trip to Japan. I nerd out sometime when clients tell me things that interest me. All of a sudden I become a news reporter of sorts and ask VERY detailed questions at rapid fire speed. She told me about her husband’s friend, who they are going to Japan with- He is over 6 feet tall with red hair who is obsessed with Japan. He has been 7 times. I don’t know why this little detail stuck with me but I kept picturing that extremely tall ginger amongst the tiny Japanese for the remainder of my day. It made me smile. 

My next client is all about the pleasantries. We discuss the weather, which sometimes naturally leads to an allergy conversation. Today we exchanged our Easter plans and we both confirmed that all things were well at home. As boring as these clients are, I can totally relate to them because sometimes I am that client and other times I am the one who brings a book. I’m pretty quiet and keep to myself and I always assume the other person doesn’t REALLY care about the personal details of my life. I am never the TMI client- I had one of those a little later in the day that I will tell you about  :)

Next client is sort of like the one who brought a book, except this one brought a lap top and headphones. This is the ultimate “I don’t want to talk” client and it’s even difficult to discuss the haircolor part. This client will use sign language to say they want to do the same as last time or attempt to just pull up a photo on their laptop and expect me to just use that as my inspiration. Nevermind that the picture is black and white and mostly of the woman’s perfect body rolling around the beach. Ah, but the zoning out time is glorious. This is where I make mental lists, make up stories about the tall red head in Japan, and try and guess what you will be like in 20 years. During this client I formed a grocery list, visualized a summer calendar and tried to brainstorm what to do with you during the endless weeks without school, and came up with the idea to blog about what a day in the life of my job looks like. I would have loved to know details like this of my own mother so I hope you like it. 

Next one is the TMI client. She will loudly tell me details that can even make me blush! Today, she was talking about how she’s trying to find someone to repair her bed because “Mama got slammed on it a few too many times…” She cusses, she demands things, she will awkwardly tell my other clients bizarre stories. She adores me though and is crazy loyal. I like her because she says what she thinks all the time. I wonder all the time what that would feel like! 

My last client is always needing referrals and advice. During the application of her color I single handedly planned her daughter’s 3rd birthday, complete with party favors and links to vendors. I gave her 3 restaurant recommendations, told her where to get laser hair removal, and came up with a costume idea for her husband for an upcoming themed party. With these clients I feel like a consierge service but I don’t really mind! My job is this wonderful network of giving and taking knowledge. My clients are the reason you are at a great school, the reason you have a great wardrobe and they have given me such great advice. Just today a client told me that her daughter went from loving princesses to being a total tomboy and it was such a relief to know that 4 year old Stella isn’t my forever Stella. Sometimes, usually with book and lap top clients, I picture you as a 20 year old wearing a princess dress and requesting plain noodles with butter and cheese at a restaurant in New York. 

All in all, today was a great day and I was mostly happy with all of my work. As an artist, I don’t think anything I do is ever perfect but nothing walked out of the salon that made me cringe (at least not their hair color). By the time I was finished, my feet were killing me and I couldn’t wait to get home and see you. 

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, your preschool sends us a weekly email summarizing your week. This past week you guys were asked to say something that you loved about yourself. You said your hair. Man I was a proud mommy, and Kiddo, you really do have hair to die for, trust me, I have seen every kind in the world! 

Love,

Mom

10 thoughts on “What I Do While I’m at Work

  1. I was fascinated by this post and love that you shared in such detail about your work. I get so fascinated by people’s lives (probably because I’m a total book worm too) and I’m the client that when getting my hair done I look around and wonder about the other clients / hairstylists thoughts and lives. I know, total weirdo right? This was really cool to read!

  2. Hi…I came over to say hi from my blog. I think what you are doing is just darling. However, if you are serious about having your daughter look at your writings at 24 or so, beware! My daughter is 27 and still not interested in the beautiful scrapbooks and writings I did for her so long ago. I seriously think that until she has her OWN daughter, it won’t seem that important. But when she has her own children and eventually when I am not around, they will be her most prized possession. Hugs to you and blessings! Lily

    1. Lol. Oh I’m sure my daughter could care less about what I have to say. I just said 24 because that’s when some of the stuff I write about will be appropriate for her to read!

  3. Just curious – have you ever had any male clients, and if so, what did you talk about? If not, I’d volunteer to be your first, but I don’t have enough hair left to color. :(

    1. I have a few male clients! To be honest, I usually try to talk them out of it if they are seeing me for grey coverage. I think males look great with grey hair! However, sometimes they really hate it and so I will cover it. We talk about all sorts of things. One of my favorite male clients tells me about his travels and asks me what to get his wife for Christmas. Another one brings the newspaper and gives me his opinions about what’s going on in the world. Male clients are loyal and nice and usually feel like fish out of water at a hair salon so I try and make them feel comfortable!

  4. I love the idea behind your blog! Such a great idea. You are so real in your writing; it’s refreshing. I am also a working mom with a young daughter so I can relate to a lot of what you write… Stella will absolutely love reading these letters one day.

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