Health and wellbeing, Opinion

Politics in the Hair Salon

I am typing this post with gorgeous hair. It sounds egotistical, but it isn’t meant that way. You see, I am returned from a well-overdue trip to my hairdresser. I paid a great price for this tint and the highlights, and I’m not talking in the monetary sense alone, although many of you would be aware of the exorbitant cost associated with the hairdresser. No, the cost I paid today was linked with the politics between the staff and the owner of the business and I was caught in the middle.

She’s an odd-ball, my hair stylist. I know this going in. I usually head to my appointment equipped with a novel, or my laptop, as a method of avoiding conversation. But today, in the spirit of Christmas I chose not to take any of those options. I chose wrong. Worst. Mistake. Ever.

Apparently, since my last visit, she has undergone emergency surgery.  She’s had about five weeks off to recover. Genuinely, I feel for her. From what she told me, it sounds harrowing and scary. But now, on her return to the salon, she is resisting to work the hours her boss, the owner, is asking her to do. Presumably, she is medically well enough to return to work. As soon as I walked in the door, I knew something was askew. The tension in the air was clunky. I was not greeted by her or the owner; his dog, however, came running from the back of the shop to greet me. You can always rely on animals, can’t you?

My attempts to stay out of the passive-aggressive behaviour from my hairdresser failed, I’m afraid. I was very nearly splashed with tint as she tossed the bowl into her tray, along with an over-the-top sigh, after the owner asked her a reasonable work-related question. She asked if I preferred to work with males or females. I knew whichever answer I gave, I was doomed. I was a captive audience; the cape, alfoil squares and a half-head of tint assured her I was going nowhere. I listened as she spoke at length about all that was wrong with the owner, and once all the tint was in, she asked if I’d like to read a magazine. I responded, ‘Yes, please, and I’d love a coffee too’. Her thin-lipped silence to this request clearly stated that it was never on offer. She turned sharply on her heel, brought a magazine over, entitled Baking, with a terse, ‘That’s all we’ve got,’ (it wasn’t) and left for the back of the salon. Minutes later, she appeared with a coffee that looked so strong it had the potential to strip paint and tasted that way too.

I won’t bore you with the disaster that was the in-salon blow-dry and GHD iron. Suffice to say, that I had to go over with my own irons once home. But since my departure from the salon, I’ve been wondering how I might have handled the situation better. What could I have done to make the appointment more comfortable for me, to let her know, kindly, that I wanted no part of the politics of her workplace.

I could have:

  • played Saga’s Pet Rescue on my phone. I’m up to Level 1679, so I’m hooked for sure.  But I am of the opinion that delving into the tech world when there are humans around, albeit odd ones, is rude.
  • politely asked her to leave me out of her workplace issues. Perhaps I could have let her know that my counsel was not wise enough for this situation.
  • sarcastically referred to what might be the common denominator in this tricky situation. But I can see its inflammatory implications.
  • pretended to be deaf, in manner of Elaine Benes, from Seinfeld, in the episode entitled The Lip Reader. As I am a regular client of hers, this might have proved difficult to pull off.

All of these options are, of course, tongue-in-cheek and although my appointment today was not pleasant, but I have come out a-head (do you like what I did?). My hair looks fabulous, ready for Christmas, and I was given great fodder. But seriously, what do you do when you’re faced with the politics of another workplace? How do you handle it?


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