I Learned Two Very Important Lessons That Day
By Neko • December 10, 2015
Way back in the day I was a hairsylist. Colors, cuts, all that jazz. It was a well known chain (that was anything but Fantastic!) so we usually had a lot of walk-in customers. People, in general, are normally pretty nice and friendly. Will engage you with small talk, which is all I did all day long, and are generally not too bad. Not this one lady though.
When she came in it was weird. She was a walk-in and I was next up, so I called her back once I was ready. No response. Call her name again a little louder and she looks up, doesn't say a word, and just follows me back. Fast-forward and I ask her what she wants me to do and she just says flatly "I don't care. Just do what you want."
As a side note, this was during the peak of the recession in Michigan in an area that thrived off of the auto industry. Plants were shutting down left and right and we were getting a lot of women who normally would go to high-end salons but could no longer afford it. They came in with a nasty attitude like the whole thing was beneath them and were a pain to deal with. This woman was dressed pretty nice and had an upper-middle class aura so, being young and naive, I assumed this was the situation.
So I go through the motions, give her a trim, and the whole time I'm asking questions and she's basically ignoring me. Might get a grunt or a one word response, but that was it. As the visit went on I was getting more and more annoyed. A sort of "look lady, just because I work here doesn't mean I'm a shit hairdresser and just because you're "slumming" it here doesn't mean I'm gonna give you a bad haircut," type of attitude. I don't remember what I said exactly, but it was snarky and sarcastic. Something to the effect of "I'm not a mind reader, so if you don't tell me what you want you're going to get what you get."
She looked into the mirror at my reflection, said "Oh my god, I'm so sorry..." and burst into tears. Not just a little either, but full on, shaking and gasping for air, heart-wrenching sobs.
Turns out she had been up all night. Her son had gone away to college that fall and he had died of alcohol poisoning. They had woke her up in the middle of the night to tell her and she'd been up ever since. She was - in a very, very literal way - on autopilot. She explained that she had just been driving for hours aimlessly and she saw our sign. She supposed that she should get her hair done so that she looked nice for the funeral.
I learned two very important lessons that day. First, as has been mentioned, you have no idea what is going on in another person's life and why they are acting the way they are. Second, everyone handles news like that differently. Some people hide, some people surround themselves with family and friends, some people don't know what the hell to do. So don't ever judge someone on a one-off encounter for being rude. You have no idea what's going on in their life.
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