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Michelle got on the subway train at exactly 11:00. It took about an hour to get to the salon. Today she was somewhat nervous on the outside but inside she felt vindicated. Today she would close a difficult part in her career and within a week she would start a new adventure with the woman she had grown to respect and value as she boss. But circumstances happened that caused this wonderful person to move on to another salon. And the person who took over the reins of her old salon was very disrespectfully toward the staff.

So Vanessa was quick surprised one day when Michelle showed up at her new salon asking to talk to her in confidence. Michelle vented how things had gone from happiness to sheer anxiety at the old salon. “Vanessa, I have to get out of there, soon. I can’t take Ricco anymore. I wish you could have stayed. I liked working for you and you never questioned my ability. Ricco constantly stands over everyone’s shoulders, telling us how to do feather cuts, how to hold a comb. He even told me that I was not allowed to go and get my hair cut shorter. He was scared I would scare away his customers. He is so childish,” Michelle confessed.

“What do you mean he would not let you go and get your hair cut?” Vanessa asked.

“I told him I wanted to cut my hair short, short to the sides and the neck. He flipped out and ordered me not to do it,” Michelle said. “I never had to ask you if I could get it cut. I always cut it short for summer. I have even had you do it a few times for me.”

“Michelle, you are one of the best cutters in the city. I would even venture to say in the tri-city area. You bring in 30% of the customers to that salon. You always keep repeat customers. You never disappointed me when I was your boss. Look, Michelle, if I told you that I had a place here with me, would you come? I want your client base here in my new salon. I want you, your skills, your clippers, and your enthusiasm here in my salon. I want you to march into Ricco’s office today and give him a one-month notice. It will take me a month to get you a chair and a station but when you are ready, you call me. But Michelle, you have to bring your clients, especially the high-rollers. I want them here with us,” Vanessa told her.

“There are some good people in that salon, Vanessa. I would hate to see Ricco put them on the unemployment lines,” Michelle said.

“I agree. Don’t worry. If anything happens, I have a lot of connections. We will help as many of them as we can. In the meantime, all I can take right now is you and your craft. So Michelle, if you want a job with me, you have it. And to tell you the truth, I don’t care if you showed up bald. That would not matter to me at all. I have who I want and her skills. Think about it Michelle, but I need an answer in two weeks,” Vanessa said. With that a customer stepped into Vanessa’s salon and she had to cut the visit short.

Michelle walked out of the salon and stopped at her lawyer’s office for some help with a letter. It took less then an hour to draw up a professional letter which outlined Michelle’s concerns about advancement and the hours she was being given. It outlined a plan that was convenient for her situation. She signed the letter, paid for the lawyer’s help and then went to her place of employment, Vanessa’s old salon that was now run by Ricco, who she detested so much. That evening just before Ricco left, Michelle walked to his office after thinking all day about Vanessa’s offer. He was seated at his desk, doing payroll when she knocked. He looked up from his desk. She was holding an envelope in her hands. “This is my one-month’s notice. I am leaving at the end of June. I will continue to fulfill my obligations here but it is time for me to move on. I am sorry but I am not happy here,” she said as she placed it on his desk.

He opened the letter, read it and folded it up. “One month? That is all you are giving me?” he said.

“I think that is fair,” Michelle said.

“I will have you bad fingered in the entire city. No one will want to give you a job anywhere in the city. I will make sure of that. One month to find a number one cutter,” he said. “I don’t believe you Michelle. You could have gone places if you would have listened to instructions and followed my example. Go. I have to finish payroll. I will consider your letter later,” he said. She turned to leave the floor. “Close the door!” he barked. But she just kept going as if she had not heard what he had said.

She walked up to her best friend and told her. “I just want you to know first-hand from me before the shit hits the fan, but I just gave Ricco my one-month notice. I am leaving on June 30th. I will see you tomorrow. We can talk then,” Michelle said.

So here she was on the train, going to the old salon for the last time. He had tried so hard to get her to reconsider her letter, offering her more money, rent free for her chair, which Vanessa had never asked for from any of the stylists. But she had already made up her mind. At the two week point, she stopped at Vanessa’s salon and found workers building a work station. She also saw a brand new stylist’s chair in the corner. “Do you approve?” Vanessa said as she walked over and gave Michelle a hug and a peck on the cheek.

“Wow! That looks cool. I am impressed,” Michelle said.

“I have already been getting calls from some of your regulars at the old salon. So they are anticipating your arrival here. I think I have atleast 10 appointments for you in the first three days, major regulars. They know you are coming. They have been telling me that you have been telling them that you are leaving. Does Ricco know you are coming back to me?” Vanessa asked.

“No. The funny thing is, he has been trying everything to get me to stay. I am on my way home. I just thought I would drop in for a minute. I wanted to tell you in person that I accept your offer. I want to come and work with you. You have always been good to me. The staff knows I am leaving. Some of them are happy for me but others are fighting amongst themselves because they think it will be a big promotion for them to become the head cutter. But I think Yvonne will put them in their places,” Michelle said. “Yvonne was the first person I told.”

“I like Yvonne. The two of you were an awesome pair. Maybe if things work out, maybe we could entice her away too. But we have to build up the clientelle here first. Great! I have my star. Well, I will see you on July 1st. I will be expecting you,” Vanessa said as she gave Michelle a hug.

The last two weeks went really fast and she found herself delegated to closing. But that was fine because she was with Yvonne every night. She told Yvonne everything, why she was going, and even told her about the fact that Ricco demanded that she not cut her hair.

She looked at her watch. It was five stations into the run to the salon. And as the train pulled in, Michelle noticed Yvonne looking down the string of cars. She saw Michelle and ran to the doors as they opened. She walked over to Michelle and sat down beside her. Small chat finally escalated to giggling and smiles. The train finally pulled into the last station and they both got out.

“We have time for coffee, if you want,” Yvonne said.

“No, I just want to get to the salon. I don’t want any confrontations today. Last day. I just want to get it over with,” Michelle said.

They walked to the salon together. Ricco was nowhere to be found. The receptionist looked up at them. “Michelle your 12:10 is here. Yvonne, you have a perm at 12:15,” she said.

“Where is Ricco?” Michelle said.

“He did not come in today. And we have just been on pins and needles. No senior is here,” the receptionist said.

“Why didn’t you call me?” Michelle said.

“I did not…..I am sorry, Michelle. Ricco told me not to call. Michelle, I know you are good. I watch you ever
y day. I am glad you are moving on. I hope to a much better place. But Michelle, I can’t afford to lose my job and if Ricco tells me not to call you, I better not,” the receptionist said.

Michelle looked around. “Give me the book,” she said. She looked over the schedules. She then called names. “Have you had breaks yet?” Negative answers came back. “Okay, Nicole and Brenda go on breaks. Be back in half an hour. When they return, Matt and Jenny you two can go. Martha, can you hold on till 2:15? Good. Okay team, let’s get it together. I don’t care if this is my last day or not, we have work to do.”

She handed the book back to the receptionist. “What about all of Ricco’s appointments?” she asked.

“He told me to cancel them. I tried to get them all but I cannot get these three. I have been trying all morning and one is due in half an hour,” the receptionist said.

“Okay, I will take it. Pencil me in for it. What time is the next one?” Michelle said. The receptionist pointed. Michelle looked at Yvonne. “Yvonne, can you take Mrs. Simpson at 3:15?” Yvonne nodded. The last appointment was at 6:00. “I will take Mrs. Kitchener as well.”

Michelle walked to her station just as her first customer entered the salon. A small gift was given to Michelle and Michelle gave the customer the phone number of Vanessa’s new salon. Michelle did her customer in twenty minutes. Her customer paid and gave her a generous tip as well. “You can call Vanessa and book your next appointment with her. I will be there as tomorrow,” Michelle said as the customer thanked her. Michelle walked to the receptionist station. The receptionist pointed to Ricco’s customer.

Michelle walked over and introduced herself. “We tried to call you this morning and see if you would like to re-schedule. Ricco did not come in today. But I am Michelle. I am the head stylist. I have a spot available if you would like me to take care of you,” she said.

“That idiot! He knew I was coming. He should have called me. He has my office number,” she said to Michelle.

The receptionist shook her head. “It is not on our files, Mrs. Jacobs. Maybe he has it stored on his cellphone,” Michelle said.

“I have seen you work. I think I can trust you,” the customer said. “You tell that man that he lost his best customer. Now I will have to find a new stylist. Maybe I will book with you.”

“Mrs. Jacobs, I am flattered. But today is my last day here. I am moving over to Salon Chez Elle on Driftwood and Chester,” Michelle said. “But if you want me to be your regular stylist, I would be more then happy to give you the phone number.”

Michelle took her to her station and in half an hour, she was giving Mrs. Jacobs the phone number of Vanessa’s new salon. Mrs. Jacobs looked at the receptionist. “You tell Ricco that I will not be back here, ever again and I will be telling all my friends.” She turned to Michelle. “I will see you in three weeks. I will call tomorrow for an appointment. You did an excellent job, Michelle, better then he has ever done.”

The rest of the day moved on. At 6:30 the majority of the staff were gone for the day. It was just Michelle and Yvonne left to finish for the day. Most of the customers were now walk-ins. And that was okay. Finally at 8:30, they both had a chance to sit down and relax.

“I don’t fell like cleaning out my station tonight. Yet I have to because Vanessa expects me tomorrow morning,” Michelle said.

“Take what you absolutely need. I can do the small things for you. Then if you get some time for lunch, you can rush down here or I am pencilled off from 1:00 till 2:00. I could bring it to you. Make a call. Maybe Vanessa could let you come in at noon,” Yvonne said.

Michelle nodded and she made a call. “I am closing tonight at the old salon. I had to do two of Ricco’s customers. Yvonne did one. Ricco did not show up today and there was no senior stylist in when Yvonne and I arrived. Can I come in at noon tomorrow? I still have to close and pack my station. And we just want to get out of here as quickly as we can<" Michelle told Vanessa.

Vanessa agreed. “Great thanks. You are the best boss in the world. I will see you at noon,” Michelle said.

Yvonne was standing behind her, stroking Michelle’s thick black hair. Holding the curls and dropping them over her shoulders. “What are you doing?” Michelle asked. “Don’t stop. It feels so good.”

“Do you remember what brought all of this to a head? Your leaving, I mean?” Yvonne said.

“Yeah, that asshole demanding and ordering me not to cut my hair short. Boy, I wish I could f… him right now,” Michelle said.

“So why don’t you?” Yvonne said.

“How?” Michelle said.

“Do you still want a short haircut? You said you were going to come in tomorrow and clean up your station. It is pay day tomorrow too. So why not cut your hair now? The way you want it cut? I know what short means to you. I know the first time you told Vanessa you were going to cut it. It turned heads for atleast two months. Tomorrow when you come in, I guarantee he will be so pissed off. And when you have your station cleaned, just run your fingers over your head,” Yvonne said.

“That would make him shit his pants. Do you think I should?” Michelle said.

Yvonne picked up a pair of scissors. “How about a nice brush cut. Really clippered at the neck, short around the ears and feathered short on top of the crown?” Yvonne said.

She gathered all of Michelle’s long hair in a ponytail, brushing it back, pulling it tight to the scalp and then fastening an elastic around the hair. She grabbed a pair of scissors and opened the blades.

Michelle giggled. “You know what? He is going to fire your ass for doing this. Not just because you are doing it to me. He is going to fire your ass because I am allowing this to be done in his salon,” she said.

“He can’t fire me. We are supposed to take orders from the senior stylist and today that was you, even if it is your last day. And you asked me to do it. And even though I am one of the seniors, I am still a junior when it comes to seniority,” Yvonne said. With that the scissors crunched through Michelle’s thick ponytail. “So I am just doing what I am being ordered to do. Yes, I do have my own clients but most of my jobs are walk-ins. But I am okay with that.”

Yvonne now stood to the side and held Michelle’s long ponytail between her closed fist so that she could see it for the last time. “My god! Look at that. I never thought I would really be doing this here in this salon. But I would not want it done by anyone else now but my best friend,” Michelle said.

Yvonne now stood behind her. In her hand was a pair of clippers. “Do you want me to cape you?” she asked.

“No. That is not necessary. I will just change as soon as we lock up. I will take my smock home with me,” Michelle said.

“So Miss, what is your preference today?” Yvonne said as she giggled.

“I don’t know. What do you think would look good for the summer and for that matter, what do you think would really make a nasty boss shit his pants?” Michelle said as she looked at Yvonne.

Michelle giggled as Yvonne put her hand on the back of her head. “One shit in your pants haircut coming up,” she declared. The clippers touched the back of Michelle’s neck and she sheared straight up the nape to the back of the crown. Hair fell to the floor and Yvonne shaved high and close. Not so close as to show skin, but close enough to have it visible to anyone who wanted to seriously look. Michelle’s hair fell to the back of the chair, down by Yvonne’s feet. Yvonne continued shearing up to the back of the crown but did not go over the crown at the time. After the back was clippered somewhat short, Yvonne dropped the hair that had been pinned up at the sides. It dropped down and touched her cheeks. Yvonne then went up and around the ear, running the cli
ppers across to the front of the crown. All of the length of the sides dropped to Michelle’s shoulders and her lap.

Beautiful black hair lay in the lap of her smock.

Michelle looked down to her lap. “Oh, my God. Look at that!” she exclaimed.

Yvonne ran her hand over her shoulder and pushed another pile of hair down so that it slid down over Michelle’s chest and dropped just because of the weight to the floor in front of the chair.

Yvonne now walked over and did the opposite side of Michelle’s hair. Shearing it close, the exact same way she had just done on the other side.

Yvonne now took the guard off. “I am going To shear your neck a little closer,” she said.

Michelle looked up and into the mirror. She saw her reflection and she smiled. She raised her hand and touched the side of her head.

“That feels so good,” she said.

“Head down, Michelle,” Yvonne said. Michelle lowered her head and Yvonne now dug in closer and harder. She was now intent on going further. Shearing closer to the skin.

Yvonne now moved back to the side and picked up a comb. She started blending the crown into the shortness of the sides. More black hair dropped to the floor. Yvonne continued to smile as the clippers buzzed across Michelle’s crown, taking the length very short.

Finally, Yvonne announced that she was finished. But not before she ordered Michelle to the shampoo bowl. Yvonne shampooed her hair twice and then draped a towel around her wet hair. Back to the chair and Yvonne blow-dried Michelle’s hair. After that was done, Yvonne grabbed a tube of hair gel and worked it through Michelle’s clipper cut. She grabbed the little tuff of hair that was at her bangs and made it into a point. “There, you are done. One shit in your pants haircut for my best friend,” Yvonne said. Yvonne grabbed a small mirror and held it to the back of Michelle’s head. Michelle ran her fingers through her short, short hair. “Are you okay with it being that short?” Yvonne said.

“Vanessa told me she did not care if I shaved my head. As long as I brought my skill and my flair for detail,” Michelle said. “I have no regrets.”

“Good, then I am happy,” Yvonne said. “Let’s get the cash counted and sweep up. I will sweep. You do the cash.”

As they did the closing, Michelle stopped and spoke: “Look, Yvonne, I am not going to ask you to be a planted spy for me or for Vanessa. But you know Vanessa has a lot of friends in the tri-city. A lot of high people owe her favors. And she is known to a lot of the smaller shops. When she was the manager here, she set the pace for a number of the higher salons. They fought to keep up with her. You have no idea how many citations and awards she has. I want you to let me know if there are any problems here. If Ricco becomes hard on any of the girls, I want to know. I even know that Vanessa thinks the world of you and she even told me that if anything happens to you, she would love to have you working along side me at her salon. But right now, it is important for her to build up the clientele before she can take any new stylists. So promise me that you will tough it for as long as you can and if anything happens, you will talk to me first,” Michelle said. “Don’t do anything to upset the basket. But if things turn sour, call me or better yet come and see Vanessa.”

“I promise,” Yvonne said.

“You know who I am really concerned about is the receptionist. She is going to be raked over the coals when Ricco looks at the books tomorrow and sees that 3 of his regulars came in. He is going to eat her alive,” Michelle said.

“It is not her fault. She tried to call him but he did not answer. They were expected. They had appointments. They should be forced to cancel at the last minute because he does not feel like coming in. We did the right thing. We got the other 5 appointments and they re-scheduled,” Yvonne said.

“Look, let’s get out of here. I am getting depressed. I think we deserve a drink,” Michelle said.

“I can’t stay too long. I am in at 10:00 tomorrow. But I will go in at 9:00 and pack up your tools. They will be ready for you as soon as you get there,” Yvonne said.

“I will be there at 10:00. I want to get my pay, give him back all the keys and then just get out of his site. Plus I am sure he is going to have some words for the staff when you are all there. And I am sure they are not going to be nice words,” Michelle said.

The next morning, Yvonne showed up at the salon at 9:00 as she promised she would. When she got in, Ricco had called all the juniors into the main salon and he was laying into them. “What are you doing here?” he said as she walked to her station.

“Michelle did not have time to close down her station and so I offered to do it for her,” Yvonne said.

“Not on my…..,” Ricco said.

“This is on my time, Ricco. Don’t raise your voice at me. I have done nothing wrong,” she said.

“We will discuss your performance later. I see you took one of my clients yesterday and your friend took two of them. That alone is grounds for me to suspend you for a couple of days,” Ricco said.

To his surprise the door opened and Michelle walked into the shop, carrying two trays of coffee. “Hi everyone. How is everyone today?” she said. She walked from employee to employee, handing each of them a cup of hot coffee and then opened a plastic bag and held out a box of donuts. “Please help yourselves. For the team. Thanks for helping me out yesterday. You all deserve praise.”

“How dare you come in today? And what the hell did you do? You look like a boy,” Ricco said.

“You know what Ricco? I did this last night, here in your salon. I asked one of your stylists to do it for me and since you decided not to show up for the day, we also had to take a number of your appointments. We tried to call you at home and on your cellphone. But you would not answer. And when Yvonne and I got to the shop for our shift, there was no senior stylist there. So even if yesterday was my last day, I was the senior. So I took charge where the manager and senior stylist or boss should have been. And what was good about it, was that everyone of us had a great day. We looked out for each other. We shared stories and experiences and no one looked over anyone’s back or criticized anyone. We got along the way a real salon should. Now, I came in today because I need to clean up my station. I also am here to get my pay cheque. So Ricco, if you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at yourself and don’t throw the blame on any of these people. They have families and bills like you. They are good people. I saw that yesterday,” Michelle said as she looked at the smiling faces of all the staff. “They all worked very hard. We were busy all day. You know what you guys? You need to give yourselves a hand.” With that’s she was the first person who clapped.

Yvonne pulled her aside as Ricco stormed off to his office. “You better just go and sit down. I will clean your station,” Yvonne said.

“No, I am okay. He can’t do anything more. His pride has been stepped on. He won’t do anything for a few months. I think he is afraid of them now. They know they are good. They have been told that they are. Seriously, just do what I asked you last night, okay?” Michelle said. She opened her tool kit and started filling it with her gear. She grabbed all her capes and her smocks and put them into a plastic bag. She then sat down on her old chair and when Ricco entered the room with the payroll, she continued to sit in her chair until he walked up to her and placed it down but slamming his palm first on the counter. “Ricco, if you would not have cracked the whip so hard, you might have been a good boss. But you are a tyrant. You do not let us be our own person and this all came to a head when you ordered me, no dem
anded that I could not get my hair cut for the summer. Vanessa never stopped me from cutting my hair in the summer. I even let her do it a couple of times. As long as I was professional, kept up with new techniques, attended the shows when she needed me to, showed up for all my shifts, then she had no problem with me. But you made a scene just because I told you that I was going to cut my hair for the summer. And you humiliated me infront of everyone else.”

Michelle picked up her tool kit and the plastic bag. She walked over to Yvonne and gave her a hug. “I am going to miss you the most. But you know where to find me, okay?” She reached into her pocket and withdrew an envelope. “This is for you for last night. If you want to keep it for yourself that is fine with me but if you want to share it with the rest of the team, that is fine with me too. There is enough for you all to go out to lunch,” she said. “Maybe it would be best if you ordered it in. That way you can all share.”

Michelle walked to the door. She raised her hand to her shorn head. “Ricco?” she called and as he looked up, she ran her hand over her near shaved head. “God, this feels good? Wish you could have been here to witness it.”

Michelle walked out of the salon and went to her car. But she was back in the salon in five minutes. In her hand she held a set of keys. “Ricco?” she called again and she threw the keys to him. “Good luck in finding a new senior stylist. Once the word gets out, I don’t think you will find anyone. Oh, Ricco, one last thing? I have Mrs. Kitchener and Mrs. Jacobs. Bye, sweetheart.”

Michelle walked back to the door, waved good-bye to everyone and walked to her car.

Yvonne spoke out to the team as Ricco had disappeared into his office. “Okay, team, let’s get this show on the road. We have a shop to run. We did it last night. We can do it again today. If anyone needs help, just speak up and someone will assist.”

Copyright protected c 2007

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