We all have that special someone in our lives. Our partners, our children, our friends, and our pets. But for me, there is no more special person than my hairdresser.
I’ll call her Lin. And today she told me that she has sold the business and will be moving on. She’s working out a handover period with the new owner and then she’ll be gone.
I’m devastated. Lin and I have been together since 2003. She was working in a salon at the local shopping centre, We clicked that first day. We talked about our kids( hers a few years older than mine). As her hands scratched my scalp she’d whisper about her crappy boss.
Over the years she has gotten to know my hair. She has scolded me for using the cheap supermarket shampoos, for not coming in often enough and neglecting my hair. But the years of bullying have paid off. I buy my shampoo from her at a cut price. My hair looks better. And we’re both happy.
Then she left the salon and I lost her for a while. I was in between haircuts,rang for an appointment and was told she had left. I was devastated. But I knew where her daughter went to school. So taking a punt, I called the school, explained that I desperately needed to track down my hairdresser and this was the only way I could do it. To their credit, the school passed the message on, and that evening I got a phone call from Lin who screeched down the phone at me. ‘You very clever to find me. I’m working from home now.’
I had a few visits to her back-yard salon and was pleased when she bought a business back in the original shopping centre. I watched as she terrorised the young apprentices, grumbled about clients and told clients how she would cut their hair. Her staff turnover was high as she had such high standards. She didn’t suffer fools and expected everyone around her to work 7 days a week. On the other hand, she seemed to sense when I didn’t have much money and would drastically under charge me for a colour job.
I watched as her kids grew up – in particular, her daughter. I heard whispers about the no-good ex-husband and her parents back in Vietnam.
The atmosphere of the salon was always loud. People always coming in to see her, just to say hallo. Her clients were fiercely loyal and she was always overbooked and running ragged. There were always three or four different languages being spoken as her staff were from everywhere. The girl from the French Alps, the gentle Indian woman and the Chinese girl who gave the best head massages I’ve ever had.
So she told me this morning that she is leaving. She’s burnt out and needs a break. She’ll go back to Vietnam, spend some time with her parents and take stock. ‘But how will I find you?’ I said. Her eyes shifted to the new owner and she mouthed ‘later’.
Later, after my haircut, head massage and blow-dry she chased me down a dingy narrow corridor leading to the public restrooms. She pulled me into the staff toilets, gave her phone number and shrieked. “Ring me and I’ll have your number.”
And then she was gone. It was all very cloak and dagger. She couldn’t be seen taking clients with her as that could jeopardise her sale.
But I’m reassured. I have her number. I’ll find her and we’ll continue on as we always have – with her long pointy nails scraping my scalp as she shampoos my hair.