I have this friend Alysa, who for almost a year now has been trying to get me to go for a haircut with her to her stylist Topher. There’s a deal her salon offers where clients bring a friend in and each get a cut or color for half price. “A two-fer with Topher.” She’s told me a gazillion times, “You have to come with me, you have to come with me. You’ll love him.” So, finally two weeks ago, knowing I’d soon be due for a ‘do, I said yes. The appointment was this past Thursday at 1:45.
Having planned for this well enough in advance, I chose a day that I knew my boss would be out of the office. Because of course when he’s away, I have a little more freedom to run a long errand, or as in this case, sneak off for a little afternoon beautifying. Still, I was anxious stepping out of the elevator on the ground floor of my office building as I took off for the salon. Will I have to wait long? Will I go over my one hour? Will I end up being late getting back to the office and be forced to explain the metamorphosis that has taken place from shaggy hair to shiny new cut? I really, really didn’t want to go. Of course yes, haircuts are great. They freshen you up. Make you look better and feel better. And everyone gets them. I know some of my office mates also sneak off for their own lunchtime hair appointments and no one cares.
I wanted the haircut, but just not right then, in the middle of a workday when I’d be crunched for time. I like the after-hours appointment or the Saturday morning appointment, because I know that a weekday lunchtime appointment brings out ‘Paranoid, Ridiculous Me’. I worry worry worry and forget that this is okay once in a while. I typically take no more than a mere twenty minutes to eat lunch…at my desk, still answering the phone and responding to emails, not really taking a break. So I’m on the subway platform, waiting for what seems like an eternity for the train to arrive and bring me to the salon. I can feel the anxiety bubbling inside me as I watch the minutes pass and I stand there wasting precious time. And finally I say to myself, “Shut up. Go for the haircut and enjoy the experience.” Enjoy the experience! Well, this is a pretty cool salon after all. They pride themselves on making the experience enjoyable.
So I arrive. I go in and I’m greeted by this bright-eyed girl who brings me to the changing room. I get into my robe and follow her to the chair where minutes later Topher comes by. He’s as great as Alysa described. He’s easy-going, has a big smile and most importantly listens to what I am telling him. Bright-eyed girl brings me to the sinks and washes my hair as we chat away about her move to NYC and working at the salon, and I agree that it does look like a fun place to come to everyday. Then it’s back to the chair to Topher and his scissors. We begin to chat away and lo’ and behold, I have not looked at the clock once. Before I know it, Topher is finished and I’m looking into a handheld mirror to check out the back view of my head. And then in the reflection I see this girl walk by and my mouth drops. No way, I said to myself. That’s the girl.
Let me flash back.
It’s nine o’clock the same morning, when I should’ve have already been at work, but was still in the middle of my commute. I was standing amongst the crowd on the train, people-watching as I do, when my eyes were drawn to this girl a few feet away from me. She had a punky hairstyle, candy apple red lipstick, a black mini poodle skirt (sans poodle but that I think might have even had a crinoline underneath), a cropped black tee shirt with cut-off sleeves—a band t-shirt, like Sex-Pistols or something—, black and white striped Keds-style sneakers and white, nylon socks with lace trim. I secretly admired her crazy style. When the doors opened at First Avenue, after the usual reshuffling, I was lucky enough to find myself a seat. And right beside me, standing, was the punky girl. She is now talking to two others girls that she found in the reshuffle and were then sitting on the bench beside me. They’re having this conversation that’s laced with bits of gossip, and laughter and an impersonation here or there about their boss. So I find that they all work together. Yes I was listening. Their chatter just happened to be so much more entertaining than the book I was reading. And so there I sat eavesdropping—if you could even call it that—trying to pick up clues as to where they might work. Wherever it was, based on their outfits, and the aforementioned hair and makeup, I’m there thinking it must be a really fun/cool/awesome place to work.
Cut to that very afternoon and there’s the cute, punky girl from the subway, in the very salon I had an appointment at. An appointment I didn’t want to go to! It was meant to be. Indeed a very cool place to work, I’m sure. A very cool place go for a haircut, even if you have to squeeze it into a weekday lunch break.
One of those super cool New York stories. And a pretty awesome hair day I would have to say.