By: Merilyn E. Ulrich,
Contributing Editor/Senior Staff Writer
The Hair Society
I am a consumer and I am writing this for all of my fellow consumers who visit hair salons. I have observed several situations over the years that embarrassed both the salon owners, stylists and me. As a result of what I saw I vowed to never behave in the way that the following customers behaved. After all, hair stylists are people too and they deserve respect just as we, the consumers expect it in return.
Example Number One: The lady with the balding head
As I waited for my stylist to call me back to the shampoo chair I observed an older woman standing by the front desk arguing with the receptionist. She was literally yelling about the cost of her bill and making quite the scene. She claimed that the stylist had caused all of her hair to fall out during her appointment for a simple cut and blow dry. The bill was for approximately $20 and she was refusing to pay for it. After about ten minutes of back and forth arguing she threw down her credit card and then stormed out of the shop vowing to never return. Being a curious (nosy?) person I asked the receptionist about the back story….what had made her so angry and was she justified? After all, I was about to have my own hair cut and styled and I wasn’t taking any chances that I too might walk out bald!
The receptionist explained that the woman had been wearing a poor quality wig for over 25 years and never took it off except to sleep at night. She had not had her own hair cut or styled in years and had no idea what was going on under that wig.
Obviously, she didn’t own any mirrors!. Long story short, when the stylist removed the ratty wig and saw what was underneath she was horrified. The woman had thin wisps of hair all over her head that were about an inch to two inches long. The color was dull and not on any known color spectrum and she was a mess. The stylist explained the situation to the woman and told her that the best that she could do for her was to even out the wisps, give her a conditioning treatment and attempt to style it in some fashion that resembled the head of a human being (my words, not hers). After doing what she promised the woman’s hair looked a
little better (at least it was all one length and seemed to cover most of the bald spots. It had regained a little bit of shine and was the absolute most that could be done under the circumstances.
Obviously the woman wasn’t pleased and had expected her hair to somehow look like the actress who was portrayed in an ad in the magazine that she had brought with her. I believe the actress was Eva Longoria and we all know what her hair looks like. To say that this woman was delusional is putting it mildly and her dissatisfaction was probably inevitable. She was a nightmare and the poor stylist left for the day to recover her equilibrium. I hope that she came backl!!
Example Number Two: The lady with the Marilyn Monroe Complex
As I sat in the chair at my stylist’s station, next to me was a woman who appeared to be in her 20’s or early 30’s. She had dark brown hair of average length and was explaining that she wanted to be platinum blonde just like Marilyn Monroe. Her stylist explained the procedure (stripping, bleaching and whatever else she had to do to attempt to get that dark color down to a light, light blonde). The woman nodded in agreement and the process began. Within a short time I began to hear screaming…yes…..SCREAMING. “It’s burning…my head is on fire!” she screamed loud enough to wake the dearly departed. Whatever the process was it wasn’t working for this woman. The stylist had to quickly rinse the bleach (or whatever it was) out of her hair and cool her down.
After doing that she explained that since the woman now had bright orange hair the only recourse was to use a blond toner and try to get a nice even blondish color. It would not be platinum and she would not look like Marilyn Monroe (who does?). The woman was so glad that her head wasn’t burning anymore that she agreed and wound up with a lovely shade of dark blond. She looked nice in my opinion, but my opinion apparently didn’t count, nor did the opinions of all of the other patrons and stylists who were present, because, she refused to pay for her coloring. All she knew was that she didn’t look like Marilyn Monroe and that was unacceptable.
Yet another nightmare customer who walked out threatening law suits and damnation and left the entire salon in complete chaos. Who was right in that situation? Was it the stylist who tried to explain the process yet didn’t tell the lady that she might not achieve such a drastic change in color on the first attempt or the woman who refused to listen and insisted that she was going to be the reincarnation of her idol, Ms. Monroe…NOW….IMMEDIATELY.
Of course, we writers are often inclined to exaggerate a bit when telling a story but this is not one of those times. I actually witnessed the above and I NEVER forgot either example of nightmare customers.
My heart went out to the stylists, the salon owners, the other patrons and to myself since my ears rang for several hours after that encounter with the Marilyn wannabe.
So, my heart goes out to you stylists who do your best to please everyone yet know in your hearts and minds that it isn’t possible to please all of the people, all of the time. I promise you that I will behave next time I come in for a hair appointment…unless……you set my head on fire or remove all of my hair!!! Just kidding….