Stylin’ with the Students

“I can’t be late today,” I reminded myself. My normal routine is to give myself double the time to get to work, and arrive within a general time frame. I grabbed a container of yogurt, my glasses, my Puffs, my purse, and headed out the door.

As I pulled out of the driveway, I sighed. What was I thinking? I do so little to make myself presentable, and I was about to entrust my quarterly salon appointment to a teenager? Would I have time to run home and fix it after? Would I have time to run to another stylist?

I pulled into the lot at the career center. Ten minutes to spare. I could see students inside the salon already. I walked in.

In the tiny waiting area, three gray-haired ladies chatted quietly while students flitted from task to task. I signed in. How long would I have to wait? I flipped through a style book, wondering again what I was thinking.

A tall bespectacled girl with her braided hair pulled back in a ponytail gestured for me to follow. It looked like a typical salon, except for the paper cut-out nametags taped to each station. I filled out the paperwork which include a release of liability. Yikes!

As she took out her color chart to match my hair color, I emphasized I wanted subtle, partial highlights. I figured if I asked for less and got a little more, I’d be safe. Her instructor helped her choose a safe, caramel color to highlight my dark brown hair. The process was a little slow, and the instructor checked her every step of the way.

I started to feel a little more comfortable. I watched other students work with clients, and noticed their sometimes awkward, yet sincere attempts at professionalism. I also heard other students screaming, laughing, and discussing music preferences at other times. I watched one student come in, put in her contacts, then apply her makeup at her station. Another student needed a new uniform, unless she liked showing off her pink cotton panties with the colored hearts.

The color turned out very nice, although I had not expected there to be as much of it. The layered, tapered cut I requested was apparently a little more complicated than the stylist was used to, and the instructor did the right half to demonstrate. She also demonstrated the use of the razor tool, which I found quite interesting.

I had hoped to dash out the door in an hour and a half. It turns out a good education takes time. After being asked by the instructor, I couldn’t deny the student the opportunity to dry and style my hair. She moussed it up and used a flat iron, creating a sleek, sophisticated look. I was very impressed and felt just like I did after leaving any other salon. I was never going to be able to duplicate it.

I paid a pittance for the professional job and left feeling pretty good about myself. I realized I had been the curriculum for one particular student that morning. So what if I was really late for work? It was worth every minute.

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