For me, it was about taking care of my family. When her insanity reared its crazy head, it was about proving something to myself. How much abuse can one person take, especially me, who old me would have told her to shove it the first sign of loony, but I needed to believe I had grown into a better person, so for four months I let Marion insult me, humiliate me, degrade me, belittle me and bark orders at me all for $10 an hour.
In this economy, with soaring fuel costs, the money wasn't much. I was lucky if I brought home $200 a week at times since she always changed my hours. Some week's tips were generous and other times it was scant. But with four sons, the peanuts I did make helped to feed them. I logged in somewhere between 18 to 22 hours a week, a part-time schedule that afforded me time to write, and be a mother. The salon was very near to my home, so travel time was nothing and in an emergency I could be home in seconds. It was also extremely bearable since she only worked with me on Saturdays, not at all on Wednesdays and for minutes on Thursdays and Fridays. My at home customers were starting to build again, but it wasn't enough to meet the same salary, therefore on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays I was working out of the house as well.
We all hate our bosses, or seriously dislike them. I've had a few whom I've remained friends with. I also know it is not easy being a boss, especially of a small business. When I owned my children's party place, I stressed intensely over this. On the one hand you are an owner and all needs to run properly for the business to be successful, thrive and make money. My business was one of my babies and I treated it as such, nurturing it and defending it at all costs. I've had wonderful employees and some not so much. Being a sensitive woman (lol), I often worried over whether or not they thought I was a fair employer. As the events at Abracadabra unfolded from day one, I started to question my ten years as a boss and thought I did something to deserve this treatment.
I believed that being a former business owner would make for an outstanding employee. I knew what to do, when to do it, and hate doing nothing. I was right, or at least I thought I was. Her clients always told me how lucky she was to have found me. I did her shampoos, cleaned her salon from top to bottom, and cleaned up after her. A few years back, in the middle of turmoil within my own business, I took a part time job on Thursdays and Fridays in a local hair salon that was associated with friends of mine. The owner was an opinionated Christian woman. Although, personally, she is not someone I would associate with, the salon was a haven of gossip and we may not have seen eye to eye at times, she was a good boss and helped me through a challenging time. Because of this, I would not take any clients with me when I did leave, even though some asked or called and even came to my store asking me to do their hair. It was during my time there that I had learned about Marion and how strange she was.
As I noted earlier, that salon was a henhouse of chickens cackling about someone, so I took what I heard with a grain of salt. Turns out these town criers were correct! Not only did they call the situation with my former business landlord, but also everything they mentioned about my new boss was on target. I remembered what I had heard, specifically how Marion accused my former boss and her employees of bringing roaches into her salon. I wasn't sure it was the same place, so to be certain, I asked my new boss on my first day and my interest piqued when she confirmed that yes, the crew of Shear Dimensions had rented space at Abracadabra while they waited for renovations to be completed after a fire destroyed their salon. I knew at once the old girls were right because Abracadabra was filthy and there was no way roaches were brought in, but however resided there in an ultimate roach heaven. It was a 30-year-old salon that looked like it still had the same decor from the 1980's. There was dust inches thick all over the black lacquer and glass shelves. The posters on the walls were of styles I had worn in the 80's and of guys dressed like men from Saturday Night Fever. The wood in the drawers and hampers were crumbling, rust and color clumped all over the slop sink, half smoked cigarettes were left under the desk, ashes on the floor, and a dirty toilet. That salon needed more than magic tricks, it needed a time machine bringing it into the new millennium. Even her clients’ hairdos were screaming: “hello, it’s 1986, I want my hair back!” My first impression on my first day was one of disgust; therefore, as any normal bug-a-phobe would do, I cleaned everything and dried it in a hot dryer to kill any of the cooties I may have brought home. From then on, I never brought my pocket book, but instead used a recycling food bag for my belongings. At the end of my first day, Marion gave me a key (totally bizarre-she didn't know me from a hole in the wall) and asked if I'd be ok being alone on my next workday. Sure, I was fine with it! It didn't bother me at all that a few years back a dead body was found in the dumpster behind her store!
My first Wednesday alone was slow and chock full of omens. I quickly discovered that she left the back door unlocked, a mistake I learned happened every Tuesday evening after she left. I told her the first time I noticed, however, couldn't be bothered after that because I knew she would keep doing it. Thankfully, my husband took me to work every day and on Wednesday mornings, he came in with me to make sure a homeless person or worse wasn't lying in the back. I cleaned her shelves and never got a thank you. As a matter of fact, I came in to a list of chores every Wednesday, which I completed, busy or not. I cleaned her mirrors (which had stains dripping down from the ceiling), sorted magazines, cleaned the stations and the sinks, folded the towels, straightened out the storage room, alphabetized her color catalog, filled shampoos, peroxides, changed barbicides, cleaned capes and always followed her around picking up her towels, caps, foils, cotton, hair, coffee cups and cleaning the color off of the chairs and floors that she dripped everywhere. While answering her phone, I met Maria, a client of the salon who called because Debbie, one of Marion's stylists had called her at home to follow her as she was planning on quitting. Maria asked if I would please give Marion the message, which I did and Debbie was immediately fired leaving me as her only employee. She does have a gentleman who only works on Sundays now, and was on medical leave at that time. Whenever Debbie's clients asked about her, Marion insisted I not tell them what really happened. I now know it is because countless girls have done that to her the past 20 years that she has owned the salon which was double the size because of the way Marion treats her employees and her clients.
Warnings now shot at me from every direction. My friend and client refused to go to the shop and give her a dime of her money. She despised the way Marion treated her old stylist who also left. "Her MO" as Sima put it "was to humiliate anyone in front of the clients she felt jealous of once they began to get busy with "her clients" and therefore sabotage her own business." Another friend relayed similar information to me about another stylist who left her. Now Marion is breathing down my neck for my clients to come to her salon with a comment of "You really don't have any following do you?" Some came, but the worse she treated me the more reluctant I was to give her any of my money. Any clients of "hers" that I did, she would always question me like a teenage girl who liked a boy who didn't like her back. She left the salon without toilet paper or paper towels, washed her personal effects with the towels and left bottles of Heineken under the bathroom sink.
I saw an online review while searching her address to give to clients that was basically bull regarding selling hair, but the comment of how the owner treated them penetrated as now I began witnessing her yelling at old women or when a sweet hard of hearing woman tried to whisper to me how she hated her. This woman had to take out her hearing aid for me to do her hair, and she told me she wouldn't be able to hear me. While I was putting on her color, according to Marion's specifications, I was yelled at across the salon to hurry up. She then came over and said "you need to talk to the clients, they like that". First of all you dumb ass, my client is deaf and since you insisted she wanted you to do her hair (which she didn't) and you "gave" her to me, if you knew her at all you would've known this, and secondly, I am 43! I think I'm aware that client's like to converse, you fool. This type of bi-polar behavior was evident every Saturday I worked with her. She often yelled at me, interfered with what I was working on, offered her two cents or more, checked my work and would tell me how and what to do with their hair all in front of the clients. I learned to ignore her, to which was met with, "are you listening to me?, can you hear me?" After laughing to myself, I played stupid, "oh, sorry, had my head in the clouds or , didn't get much sleep last night" all while I imagined smacking her upside her dumb blonde head.
Wednesdays at work was a day of solace, until one Wednesday when I walked in to an open door and saw her shampooing my first client. She barked at me, "hurry up and unpack, you're late!" I looked at my phone and it was 11:01 AM. I replied, "oh sorry" then looked at her clock which is five minutes fast and said I start at 11, I am one minute late." I got stuck at the train that is right in front of her store and if she looked up she would have seen that. From that day on, I would stress to make sure I arrived at least fifteen minutes early every work day. A few Wednesdays after that, again she made a surprise appearance and when I greeted her with a friendly, "good morning, what brings you in on your day off", she growled, "MONEY!" I had to leave five minutes late every day because her clock was fast and was tense every morning leaving to make sure I wasn't later than fifteen minutes early.
Three months in, my husband was now telling me to quit. I couldn't until I was sure he had a job lined up or I had seen strides within my writing. As fate would have it, the planets aligned last week and all fell into place at once. I received my first writing paycheck and was now receiving free products, and invitations to press outings. At the same time I was assigned to cover the royal wedding, http://www.examiner.com/hair-care-in-long-island/princess-kate-s-royal-wedding-style. The day before I prepped and researched. I worked at the salon the night before on a friend and her daughter who have learning disabilities and on state assistance. At home, I charge her pennies, but needed to up the price slightly at the salon, but still gave her a discount. I basically charged her for her hi-lights and gave her the cut and blow, my service for free. I didn't think Marion would have an issue with it since I still charged her a slightly higher price for the highlights. I could have done her hair at home, pocketed the money and got paid for sitting at her shop doing nothing. After I cleaned up, so much so, that her daughter commented, "Deirdre, why are you cleaning so much?" and began helping me.
The next morning I awoke at 4:00 AM along with the rest of the east coast to watch the wedding, however, I was working, typing writing, and creating slideshows. I published at 8:00 AM, took the kiddies to school at 8:15 AM, walked with my husband, came home and edited the article again, sent it out to social networks and tried to sleep because I had to work from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM, and I am a cranky camper on a few hours of sleep. Just as I was dozing my cell phone rings blaring "Like a G6" in my ear. I look and it's my boss, so I reluctantly answer. "Did you do hi-lights last night?" she accused in her sardonic of tones. "What, no" was my answer still in a dreamy exhausted stupor, "why?" "Because there was foil in the garbage and bleach on the sink and caps all over", she bellowed. I said goodbye, wiped my eyes and was stunned. That place was spotless, but she searched the garbage and the foils were underneath old magazines I had thrown out. I was floored. I would have told her I did them, but she was so awful and accusatory, I didn't want to tell her anything except go to hell, so I called her back to apologize. When she answered she yelled at me, "YOUR NUMBER COMES UP PRIVATE", I apologized for being groggy and explained why I was asleep to which she replied, "SO, I GOT UP THAT EARLY TOO" and now I couldn't tell her the truth, so I made up a ridiculous story about how my friend's daughter is in beauty school and she tried to do foils, but messed it up and she came in with them in her hair. She didn't see a mess, she saw I was in until 7:30 and went rummaging through the garbage. I was wounded. Maybe other girls screwed her over, stole from her or took her clients, but I worked my ass off, never got a thank you and was treated terribly consistently. I have a difficult time lying, but she didn't deserve the truth.
I went in a few hours later, arrived fifteen minutes early because I knew I had a 3:00 customer to a days worth of hair piled at my station. I tidied up her mess to prepare for my first appointment. I ignored her snide comments, especially the ones about me sleeping, although I did respond one time that I wasn't enjoying the wedding, I was covering it.
Saturday morning I checked my page views on my royal wedding coverage and was astounded. I reached record clicks and said to my husband, "I have the confidence today to face whatever she brings". My first client was someone who needed her color fixed. It happens, but Marion compounded the circumstances that led to me screwing this one’s hair up When I first did this woman's hair, on a Wednesday, without the glaring eye and mouth of my boss, it came out stunning. She came back for her touch up on a Saturday, so between my nerves of Marion yelling at me to move it along, and the woman's unwillingness to sit still, not touch her hair of foils led to a feathering effect of the darker color along some of the blonde hair pieces. I had no problem fixing it, but had to watch carefully as to not over process her already over processed hair. My next appointment was Maria and her husband who was late. After Marion TOLD me how to do her hair, she then yelled at me again to "SHUT UP and HURRY UP, Maria's husband was next". Maria's husband wasn't even there yet, and she had now gotten her tentacles in my "hair fix" and was blowing it out. I stopped and finally yelled back, "DO YOU WANT ME TO HURRY IT UP OR DO A GOOD JOB AND DO ALL THE THINGS YOU JUST TOLD ME TO DO! MAKE UP YOUR MIND!" Now it's on bitch and I am done. Maria looks up at me and tells me not to worry, her husband isn't there yet and how every time she calls for an appointment, she prays that I am still working there. She then tells me how Marion likes me and I'm the longest employee she has ever had.
Maria leaves, looks fabulous and the dragon lady seems to be quieting down and trying to be civil. I now am doing my next client who is a hi-light that I recommended come back to have it done. She has a few gray hairs among gorgeous, natural ginger colored hair and I feel a high lift honey blonde would look stunning. But, I have to ask the drunk, and as she runs her fingers through her hair insists I use bleach. This appointment had enough time blocked for the color, but the cut and blow was written over a prom trial that I blocked an hour for. When the young girl for the trial first came to me, she was in Marion's column, but the mother asked if I could do it. Marion didn't like that. When the teen's mother then called for the trial, Marion thought she wanted her again...awkward! The mother said up-do on the phone and the girl wanted long curls, but didn't bring a picture, even though I asked her to, so we had a little miscommunication happening, but it was a friendly and funny banter as we were trying to figure out how to do her hair. That is why we do trial appointments. Now Marion is twitching and asking me, "oh, you're doing the whole head?" I am ignoring her now, so she saunters over, runs her fingers through the curls I'm creating and begins to tell me again what to do and I stopped, and said, "you better walk away right now". She said, "I better go in my corner now" and I quit, told her to shove the job up her ass, finished my hi-lights after the poor woman just had surgery and was now waiting in pain, told her I wanted to do a different color, packed up my bags and waited for my pay.
Now she is waving the money in my face and is telling me off. I took it because I just wanted to get paid and didn't want to get arrested. I was handed my money, walked out and turned right back around to let this bitch have it. As I was blasting her a new asshole, she threatened to call the police and I told her to go ahead, she has so many violations, OSHA will shut her down in seconds and she'll get closed in a heartbeat and arrested for selling, illegal, knock-off designer bags. She backed down and I walked out, frustrated that I let her get to me, relieved to be done with her and excited to be heading to my son's recital shortly.
The End? Not really! Monday, my husband got a job offer and I have been busy writing and working on my own clients. Although I ripped her up pretty good at the end, those of you who know me well know how hard it was for me to take that and not to lash out or even worse, strike out.
This is what makes me happy: