“The Vanishing Stylist”

 

Mina was our newest stylist & we instantly liked her. She was very young, cute, fresh out of beauty school, & full of life. As it turned out, her life was exceedingly different from anything we were ever exposed to. Within a few months of working with us, most of the stylists at the salon decided to go to the Bronner Brothers show (a large mainly African-American beauty show) in Atlanta.

Much planning went into arranging hotel accommodations, transportation, pick up times, packing & most importantly budgeting how much each person owed to cover the hotel/transportation costs. Looking back on it now, I feel blessed that two of us (myself & another stylist) couldn’t go.

According to the plan, Mina would be the last person picked up early in the morning the day before the show. Needless to say, she was not ready when the van pulled up at her apartment bright & early. But not only was she not ready, she hadn’t done her laundry either & had no clean clothes at all. So she put on a dirty old pair of sweat pants & a sweat shirt with a hoodie, then proceeded to stuff all her dirty clothes in a duffle bag instead of using a suitcase like normal people. According to her, she planned on doing her laundry at the hotel once they arrived.

Upon arriving at the very nice Omni hotel, all 5 of the women piled up into the room they were sharing. Mina had family & friends in Atlanta, so she called some of them while the others were unpacking. The more seasoned stylists decided it was best if they all paid their share of the room costs before heading to the show, lest they mistakenly spent it all. Everyone coughed up their fair share while Mina was talking on the phone to her mother.

When she hung up, she started crying, saying that she had counted on her mom to give her the money to pay for her room, but now her mom said she didn’t have any money. At this point, Mina was really bawling & the rest of the women felt sorry for her, so they said “It’s okay Mina, we’re all here to have a good time.”  They all pitched in to pay for her share (which ultimately decreased the money each had to spend at the show on supplies), so Mina stopped crying & everything seemed fine again.

Shortly after this, there was a knock at the door. It was one of Mina’s male friends that she had invited over & he looked really, really thug-like. Both he & Mina proceeded to flounder on the bed, joking & laughing, but never once did Mina ask if it was okay with her roommates to bring him in or if it was okay for them to lay all over the bed. Finally Mina decided she was going out with her thug friend, but she left her purse & duffle bag in the room because she planned to be back in time for the pre-show party later that night.

*Side note: Beauty shows always have a pre-show party, which is on the Saturday night before the show starts that following Sunday morning. It’s a fun chance to wear your most outrageous party attire & dance the night away. The party usually starts around 8pm or thereabouts.

Out the door Mina went with her thug-friend. After that, Mina was not seen or heard from in over 2 days! She did not show up for the pre-show party that Saturday night, nor did she appear at the show on Sunday morning.  In fact, she missed the entire show weekend & all the classes on Monday.

When they tried to call her prepaid cell phone on Sunday morning, it turned out that she hadn’t paid for any minutes, so it wasn’t working. The women were pretty concerned at this point, so they dug through Mina’s purse & located her mothers phone number. They also accidentally found an un-cashed paycheck for over $100, which would’ve more than covered her fair share of the hotel room! When they got her mother on the phone & told her that Mina had not been seen since the  preceding afternoon, she seemed unfazed. She couldn’t venture a guess as to where Mina was, she had not seen or heard from her, nor did she have any of her friends phone numbers. Well……if her own mother wasn’t worried about Mina, then they figured perhaps they were over reacting to the situation.

So the women went about their business at the show, shopping for products & going to classes, etc. Mina was the topic of conversation all weekend & everyone grew more anxious & more concerned as the hours went by. Monday was the last day of the show & they missed their scheduled classes because they decided to finally call the police to report Mina missing. The police showed up at the hotel (which caused all their stylist peers to gawk as the police came through the lobby) & upon arriving at their hotel room, they looked through Mina’s purse. Then they looked through her duffle bag full of dirty laundry (how embarrassing).  They said that it would be best if a family member actually filed the missing persons report, so Mina’s mother was called. Her mother seemed annoyed to be interrupted by the police, but finally went along with filing the report & that was that.

The owner of the salon asked Mina’s mother if she’d like to come down to the hotel to pick up her daughter’s belongings, but she didn’t want to do it. Instead she asked if they would drive them over to her apartment! The women opted not to do that because they had to check out at noon, plus they did not know their way around Atlanta & they had a long drive back home that day. So the mother told them to just take Mina’s stuff back home with them & give them to Mina’s sister.

The women proceeded to check out & the hotel stored their luggage while they finished up shopping at the show. Meanwhile, they’d missed their scheduled classes due to filling out the police report & the women anxiously hung out as long as they could in the hopes that Mina would turn up. Finally, one of them spots Mina coming across the show floor! She was still wearing the same dirty sweatsuit she left town in 2 days prior! Plus, she had her hoodie up over her head & was slinking across the show floor all sneaky-like, which made her look suspiciously like a homeless person instead of a hair stylist!

People all around her were dressed stylishly, so this was particularly mortifying to everyone who saw her coming. It was evident that she hadn’t bathed either because she smelled bad (imagine 3 day old underwear)! The thought of sitting next to her in the van on the 5 hour ride home was distressing to all of them & no one wanted to draw that short straw, for real! The women were sincerely relieved she wasn’t dead, but they deserved & demanded answers. The confrontation scene took place on the sidewalk in front of their hotel. They’d gotten their luggage & were waiting for the valet to bring their van around. Mina’s thug friend was still hanging with her when the women peppered her with questions like “Where were you?”, “Why didn’t you call?” & “How could you do that to us”?

Mina was amused & perplexed. “What’s the big deal? I was just having fun.” she replied. She honestly had no clue as to the worry she put everyone through. Her thug friend started laughing hysterically when they told her that they had even filed a missing persons report with the police, which totally pissed off all the women.

When the valet pulled up with the van, everyone threw their luggage in. Mina asked where her stuff was & that’s when the salon owner told her it was still at the front desk & that she could find her own way home. Then they shut the van doors & sped off, leaving Mina standing on the sidewalk in front of the Omni hotel! The women “discussed” it for the next 5 hours until they got home, whereupon the owner promptly changed the locks on the salon. Mina was officially fired!

We heard through Mina’s sister that she cashed her paycheck & took a Greyhound bus back to town the next day. Her sister & mother were both mad at us for leaving her there & couldn’t understand why we were making such a big deal about the whole thing! Evidently this kind of behavior was considered normal in their family, which is very sad. Since Mina owed the salon owner some booth rent (which went unpaid), the owner wound up keeping Mina’s salon supplies & sold them at a steep discount. Even though we all felt sorry for Mina & her chaotic life, at the same time we supported the salon owners decision to put her out. All of us liked Mina, but she was a lost soul. The last we heard through the grapevine, Mina moved out of state, had given up doing hair, & was going to school to learn auto mechanics!

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