My first job was as a shampoo girl at a hair salon. Years ago, anyone could shampoo your hair. Nowadays, you actually need to be licensed to shampoo. I can’t decide if this is ridiculous or not.
I worked at a place called Palmer Hairstyle. My sister had worked there before, so it seemed natural that I should too. I was 14. When I was 14 I looked like a 10 year old.
So picture this; a crappy, strip mall hair salon decorated in the finest of 80’s tacky-chic. The walls had this pearly, textured wallpaper. Remember that? The women who worked there ranged from a 20 something permed tanorexic with an extreme love of gum and blush, to a 60 year old (loveable) cranky bitch. Everyone smoked.
My closest coworker, who was close but not because we were friendly. Because she was similarly inexperienced as I was, and closest to my own age. She was a vision of pure elegance with super tan skin, big, sprayed bleach blond hair, tons of makeup, hot pink pointy nails, I really liked her. She was fancy. She showed zero interest in my look.
The job was mostly uneventful, and took up 2 days a week in the summer of 95 in a farm town in Pennsylvania. I made $4.95 an hour, plus tips, but I think I only received one tip that summer. The clientele were mainly older ladies who got their hair washed and set once a week. They’d ask me to scrub their heads really hard. Some wanted me to use my nails, but I wasn’t allowed, and frankly, didn’t really want to.
I’ll never forget one lady. She was getting a perm, and I had to rinse the stinky formaldehyde stuff off her hair while it was still in plastic rollers. I was just doing my thing, using the hose thing on her head, when suddenly, I lost my grip, and the hose went flying all around. I’d seen stuff like that on TV, but I didn’t think a hose would really do that, but it did! And everyone was getting really wet, and screaming. It was funny. The poor old lady took the worst of it. But you know what, she could have gotten mad, but she didn’t. She laughed it off. I’m grateful to her for doing that.
At the time, while I worked this job, I really didn’t have any ambition besides making a few bucks so I could shop at 5.7.9. That part was cool. Around the end of the summer, it started being a hassle, and I took that to mean it was time to quit. I’d never quit a job before, so I wasn’t quite sure of the etiquette, so I went to my boss Kay, and asked her if she requires two weeks notice. I thought that was the polite thing to ask, I wouldn’t want to quit wrong, right? She just said, “What? You’re quitting too? Terrific.” and then stamped out her cigarette. That was pretty much the end of that conversation, and two weeks later I was outta there.
The best thing about all the jobs I’ve had are the people. There are no shortage of strong personalities in this world. In fact, we truly all do have a strong personality, even the quiet mousy ones. They probably just choose not to show it to everyone. But it’s there! This job was probably the most drama-free for me, and the reason for that is because I was the mousy one. There was lots of drama there, I just wasn’t privy to it, and it served me well. As will you learn throughout my series of crazy job stories, I am no longer mousy, and I’ve seen and taken part in some drama.
And it all, works out, happily in the end.