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"Oh, That’s Okay"


One of my pet peeves – and a huge factor in my decision to dread my hair – is going to the salon. I know that for a lot of women a day at the shop chatting, reading magazines and napping is close to heaven. Not so much for yours truly. I don’t mind having my hair done, it’s the waiting that drives me crazy. I’ve never left a hairdresser because of a bad perm, a messed up hair cut, or anything related to my hair. I’ve ALWAYS left because of time – they forgot to write my appointment down and went home, they’re eating lunch and will be with me in just a minute, they scheduled 47 appointments in a 15 minute time frame, etc. etc.

Contrary to popular belief, dreads require maintenance and upkeep just like any other ‘do. And I am a complete failure at doing my own hair – relaxed or natural. So, yesterday at 4:30 I show up for my appointment – wash, deep conditioning under the dryer, twist, set under the dryer. I was anticipating (first mistake) being on my way home by 6:30. At the latest.

Nerd Girl: Hey y’all. How’s everybody?
Stylist : Hey girl. “Q” isn’t here – she had to run and pick up her daughter, she’ll be back in about 15 minutes
Nerd Girl (out loud): Oh, okay
Nerd Girl (inside her head): Aaaaaaaaaaargh! But 15 minutes isn’t too bad a delay. I’ll just get some stuff done while I wait . . .

So I get my bag out and set about doing a little busy work. I stuff 40 neighborhood get-together flyers into envelopes and seal them. I read a bridal magazine (??), two fashion magazines that I am completely unable to relate to, and pick up where I left off in “100 Years of Solitude.” Gee, I think – this is a long 15 minutes (sometimes, I do regret not wearing a watch). Anyhoo, I finally slip my cell phone out of my bag. It is 5:30. 15 minutes have somehow miraculously turned to 60. I call Smoochy. “Umm, I think I’m going to leave. She’s not here yet, and I don’t want to be here all night.” Smoochy tells me to reschedule and come on home – my time shouldn’t be disrespected like that. I’m feeling empowered. I’m generally so non-confrontational that actually walking up to the other stylist, telling her that I’m not going to wait any longer and leaving is a big deal for me. But I’m ready. I pack up my stuff, rehearse my speech, and prepare to leave.

“Q” bounces in the door. “Girl, I am so sorry! I had to pick my daughter up. Come on back.”

Nerd Girl: “Oh, that’s okay.”

And I put my bag down, went to the shampoo bowl and proceeded to get my hair done. I left the shop at 8:15. Angry, but cute.

And the bad part about it? I’ll go back. Because I don’t want to do my own hair. Because it’s not that easy to find someone who styles natural hair. Because my hair really does look good when she’s finished. Because I’m a push-over.

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7 thoughts on “"Oh, That’s Okay"

  1. My wife just shrugs and says “C’est la vie” when I ask her this, my sister grits her teeth at this disrespect of time and says the same. WHY is there a perpetual disrespect of time and appointments at black hair salons? I had to pick up a white female author in LA for a panel discussion on which we were both serving I had to rent a car at LAX and roll by this address and I knew I’d be tired, hot, bothered. But she said she’d be ready at 4:15pm sharp and she damn sure was. I asked her if she ever had to wait a long time, or the stylist wasn’t there at all, blah blah and she looked at me like I was speeking acient Greek. She’s not Jodi Picoult; she’s pretty well known in book circles, however. Thus no celeb who commands favors. I’d say a working black woman/black mom’s time is just as big a premium, if not more critical, than the average Missy Anne–so why don’t you all complain?
    I don’t accept CPT, and my barber knows he gets zero tip or zero cash at all if I say I’m coming in at 1pm and he’s got 5 dudes in there invited before me. At 1:20pm, I’m out.

    My dad, ever the mean old man who used to be a Bobby Seale disciple, says it’s a “country and hood thing.” Without sounding like a tan Rush Limbaugh–and curse me big time if you want–but I’d say there’s a sand grain of truth in that big snowflake of stereotype. Running a small business ain’t for the faint hearted, and you can have attention to efficiency without sacrificing the sisterhood and oasis a lot of salons provide…

  2. I so understand this scenario. I have a love-hate relationship with my stylist too. Hate the waiting, but LOVE my hair once I get out of that chair! What’s a girl to do?

  3. I’m going on 3 years salon free, but I know once I make that commitment those days are over. You aren’t a pushover as much as being stuck with no other options. I’m back in the land where natural hair is a rarity and a natural stylist even rarer. Where’s the pics of your freshly done do?

  4. After I got married I started visiting the barber quarterly. When I do see my barber I have to be mentally prepared to spend at least three hours waiting for a 20-minute $10 haircut. My barber is popular and I’ve been seeing him for something like a decade so it is what it is. I’m a rare black man in the sense that I don’t go to the barbershop two to four times a month. I guess I’m just low maintenance.

  5. @ Christopher Chambers — I think that we tolerate it because when we finally find someone who does our hair to our specifications – a battle in and of itself – we’re willing to put up with a lot just to avoid going through the search process again. And if you’re not living in a city where there are a plethora of options . . . well, therein lies the dilemna. I’m not sure why salons/stylists aren’t more customer oriented, other than the fact that honestly, natural or chemical, straight or curly, short or long, most of us need them way more than they need us. (And thanks for making me google Jodie Picoult – I hadn’t heard of her before last week. I’ve put both of you on my to-read list!)

    @ Non SW — If I had just an ounce of hair doing capabilities in my body, I promise I’d start a chain of salons for black women – straight or natural – where time was respected. Hmmmm . . .

    @Yolanda — does this mean you’ve decided to take the plunge and lock up? 3 years salon free? I’m jealous! I don’t know if/when I’ll ever post a pic of myself – kind of relates to your out of the closet post the other day.

    @Keith – one of my husband’s greatest joys about his baldness is not having to spend hours on end on a Friday evening or Saturday night waiting to get his hair cut. Now that you mention it, I’ve heard my father complain about his long waits as well.

    Anybody here want to go in on a chain of salons for persons of color????

  6. I feel your pain! My trips to the salon last about 3 hours, minimum. Between waiting before the appointment, waiting during the appointment and waiting to get the send off I think it takes 30 minutes of styling and 2 1/2 hours of waiting! I have learned to make the first appointment of the morning or the first appointment after lunch to at least cut down the pre-wait.

    Rant over…

    I’m reaching out to talk to parents about the Maya & Miguel program as part of a marketing project I’m working on with Scholastic. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Maya & Miguel, a show on PBS in the afternoons — http://pbskidsgo.org/mayaandmiguel — that emphasizes cultural diversity and language learning.

    I found your post and thought I’d reach out to say hello and ask if you’d like to receive a free Maya & Miguel DVD. If you’d like to receive the DVD just email me at Kerri at boldmouth.com with your address and I’ll have it shipped it out to you.

    If you do choose to blog about Maya & Miguel show or episodes on the DVD, please make it clear how you received the information. Our goal is to be open and honest with everyone we reach.

    Kerri Roberts, BoldMouth

  7. Pingback: AAAARRRGH! « Nerd Girl

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