Work Through The Pain
You have a doctor’s appointment at 10:00 am. You arrive at 9:42, sign in, and take a seat in the waiting room. At 10:56, the nurse finally calls you back. You then sit in the exam room waiting on the doctor for another 20 minutes, only to be scurried around and pushed back out the door 5 minutes later. Does this sound familiar? Yes, this scenario happens everyday, and it’s frustrating. Doesn’t my time matter as much as that doctor’s time?
I read something the other day that made me stop and think. HERE is a link to an article, written by a doctor, that has made it’s rounds on social media. I read the article, choking back a few tears, and then shared it myself. I had never thought about so many of the points that this doctor makes in her article, although I had never really gotten too angry about waiting at the Doc’s office, either. I always just figured if he is running this far behind, he must have had some emergencies to deal with, and I could be the emergency someday. I actually felt I could relate to this doctor in a lot of ways.
Ok…first of all, I’m not comparing hairdressing to doctoring. Yes, I work by appointment, but I don’t save lives, nor do I have to dole out bad news about a customer’s health. I try to stay on schedule, but I occasionally run a little behind and no one seems too upset about it. I’m never more than 5-10 minutes behind, because I feel strongly that if someone takes the time to make an appointment with me, I should respect them enough to keep it. However, I definitely can understand how difficult it can be to stand there and do my job well when I’m sad, devastated, exhausted, or dealing with some kind of family problem. It takes a special type of courage to choke down emotions and keep smiling, and work through the pain while being pleasant.
I normally only share the positive, happy, upbeat news about the salon, but today I’m getting real. Working for the public, in any capacity, is not an easy thing when you have problems. Working in a hair salon in a small town may be the hardest. Everyone knows your business, and they don’t mind asking questions when they’ve heard a bit of your business. If we miss a day of work, we miss a day of pay, so we do tend to work through even the hardest of days, even when we feel like we can’t go another step. We try not to let that show in our constant interactions with clients, but it’s not always easy.
Hairdressers build relationships with our salon clients, and our clients often confide in us when things go wrong in their lives. It’s not easy to have a person you love sit in your chair and tell you they have been diagnosed with cancer. It’s not easy to have to be the one to cut their last sprays of hair off after the majority has fallen out. It’s not easy to reach the day when that client can no longer come into the salon, because he/she is too sick to get out of bed. It’s not easy to go to that client’s funeral and see his/her family grieve the loss. It’s not easy to hear the news that you have lost that client when you have 3 more hours of appointments to get through, and you certainly can’t stand there and cry the whole time.
It’s not easy to be hairdresser to a married couple for 15 years of my career, then continue on with one spouse after the other one has passed away.
It’s not easy to get bad news about one of your own family members’ health, then have each and every well-meaning client ask you about it throughout the day, and have to answer the same questions over and over.
It’s not easy to lose a co-worker to illness, then have to carry on ‘business as usual’, when you really just want to say ‘to hell with it’ and lay your scissors down and go home.
Sometimes, the bad things come in waves. Sometimes, I think I can’t do this job that I love anymore because my heart can’t take the pain of losing one more person, or seeing one more client through a divorce, or watching one more vibrant, intelligent person succumb to dementia. But I do keep on doing this job that I love, because I can sleep well at night knowing I was kind, gentle, and patient for these people every time they came into the salon. I hope I can say I helped them in some way, even if it was just giving them a confidence booster with a new hairdo. I do try to do these things for my clients, because many of them do the same for me when I’m in a bad place. When Papa died, I received more cards and food and caring wishes from clients than I could ever repay. When I had to have surgery several years ago, same deal. I’m blessed, and I pray my clients feel blessed to have me, as well.
No, I’m not saving lives. I hope to be, however, enriching lives, just like my clients enrich mine. My clients gave me a gift when they chose me to be their hairdresser, and they continue to gift me each time they come in. Yes, I’ve considered leaving this profession at difficult times in my life, but I stay for my people. I love my clients, and they all seem to care about me, too. So, if I’m running a little behind, or they are, we just get over it and move on. I’ll work through tears, joys, and physical pains until I just can’t anymore….and then I will keep working anyway. My salon clients are worth it, and I want to be worth it to them, as well.
I hope the doctor who wrote the above article can feel the balance in her career, and have some peace of mind knowing that most of her patients probably don’t complain. Many of them probably just sit and wait quietly for their turn, because this doctor has touched their lives in some way and she is worth the wait. Many of them love her, just as she loves them. I pray she can see that, as well…but I bet she can. That’s why she does it.
This post is in memory of:
And, most recently, Melissa.
July 27, 2015 @ 7:33 am
Wow, that’s a lot of losses! It’s a beautifully written essay, too. I can see how a regular hairdresser-client relationship can become as intimate as one with a doctor. Susanne and I have haircuts only every couple of months, and it only takes half an hour or less, but we’ve been with Rita through a divorce and now a second happy marriage, a move from Cudjoe Key to Sugarloaf Key, the loss of a beloved dog, lots of family trips, and three children becoming young adults. If you have weekly clients, and if they have more done than cuts, you can hardly avoid becoming like family. XO
July 27, 2015 @ 8:12 am
Your comment proves my point…you’ve been with her a long time; you probably know more about her than you do about me (normal, considering you see her more)!
To ladies in the Deep South, the hair appointment holds even MORE importance than the doctor! We’ve had clients come in wearing their hospital bracelets, because they got discharged and came straight to the salon! One even left against doctor’s orders so she wouldn’t be late or miss her appointment. There are some clients who literally never miss an appointment, and if they do, we know something is bad wrong. It’s kind of nice to be that important to someone! Haha!
July 27, 2015 @ 11:28 am
Excellent post. Familiarity breeds intimacy and what a ride intimacy is. When you have a heart, it will get broken. But it will also soar, that will make it worth the hurt.
July 27, 2015 @ 12:15 pm
In my field I deal with the same stuff… No one can really understand the emotional load we carry. It’s not possible to just leave it at work. What happens here is so closely tied to your heart you can’t take it off and head home at 5. Sending love…
July 27, 2015 @ 4:17 pm
Martie, your posts are always fun and upbeat and full of energy…but in reading this post, I could feel that you wanted to share with your readers a sadder, more melancholy side… And although it must hurt, we are there with you and I appreciate your heartfelt emotions. They are real and I can imagine you’ve seen and you’ve been through difficult times and must continue working through it all.
Your job is indeed an important one. You make people feel beautiful , confident and for the time they’re in your chair, I bet they forget about their problems. My mom always says, “As long as my hair looks good” whenever she’s in a tough situation… I swear there were times I remember she would run to the salon in need of some alone time and come home feeling beautiful and ready to conquer…
I enjoy your smiling tone of writing but I appreciate seeing this side of you too. May those names you wrote at the end of your post, rest in peace.
Sending much love and gratitude your way,
July 27, 2015 @ 7:03 pm
Martin, Don’t be so sure you aren’t saving lives. You are kind, warm, and caring. You don’t know what you may have done for someone in a low moment.
August 1, 2015 @ 11:07 am
Thank you, dear! I feel like some of them have saved me once or twice as well!