Upon graduating from cosmetology school in 1987, I began my journey into the beauty world. I quickly found out that it could also be an ugly world, too. I started out doing hair at a salon in the local mall & the manager was a woman whose name has been lost to the sands of time (at least in my memory it has). She was at least twice my age, which at that time I was in my early twenties, & she was very strange. She was as Seinfeld described in one well-known episode, “a close talker”.

That means as she engaged you in conversation, she would stand inches from your body……thusly her face would be inches from your face. She had no concept of personal space whatsoever. My co-workers & I lived in mortal fear that she would “slip us the tongue”, as one stylist so eloquently put it. She did other bizarre things, too. She’d make us save the unused portion of the perm solution (along with the neutralizer) after each client. We were told to stick a pin into the tip of each bottle & then this leftover solution was to be used on the next unsuspecting client. That could be hours or that could be days later! Needless to say, we had a lot of complaints & “re-do’s” when the perms didn’t take.

After suffering enough of this woman, I decided to quit. The higher ups at the beauty school (of which I was still attending to get my instructors license) encouraged me to ‘do the professional thing’ by giving 2 weeks notice. And so I did. The manager took it well; no problems that I could see on my horizon & so the count down to my final day began.

2 weeks later at the end of my last shift, as I was packing up my gear, the manager became extremely agitated & said some things to me. I can’t recall exactly what, but it definitely wasn’t “I wish you the best of luck in your new venture”. We were the only two people in the salon since the mall was closing, the other stylists had already left, all the storefront gates were down, & the shoppers had gone home.

Looking back, I’m surprised that security didn’t come running. One word led to another & before long both of our voices got very, very loud. She’d purposely cornered me when we were alone so she could unleash her frustrations! We’ve all been there…..the place where suddenly you find yourself embroiled in a situation not of your making, but then afterwards you can’t recall how or what got said to start it?

But this 1 thing I’ll always remember, because it cut me to the quick (a little nail humor, pun intended). She said “You don’t have what it takes to make it in this business!”.

I left out the back door & never saw her again. Being the way I am, when someone tells me I can’t achieve something, that makes me determined to accomplish it all the more. But sometimes the doubt that each of us has inside would sometimes peck at me like a buzzard on roadkill……..”what if she’s right?”……. “what if I don’t have what it takes to make it in this business?”

I went to work elsewhere & it didn’t take too long before we heard the news. With her bad business practices, questionable accounting, & sunny personality, she managed to drive the salon into the ground & it closed. I don’t know where she went to work after that fiasco. A few months later I’d heard through the grapevine that she had cancer. Now I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, seriously.

I never heard anything more about “The Close Talker” after that. Fact is, I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup because I’ve forgotten most everything about her……except for that 1 thing she said….. which could’ve easily driven another newbie right out of the business. Maybe she regretted her actions, but I’ll never know. Oddly enough, I’m still in the beauty industry some 25+ years later!

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