Chantelle’s second client was the first that Sue had to compensate.
“Yes, Chantelle, she requested a full wax,” Sue explained. “but this does not mean the whole eyebrow comes off.”
“I don’t understand.”
“A whole wax means that she wants all of the areas that can be waxed. Eyebrow, top lip, underarm, full leg and XXXX bikini.”
“But the eyebrow is ALWAYS shaped, NEVER removed.”
“Say it back to me.”
“Say it back to me.”
“I’m not a child.”
“SAY IT BACK TO ME.”
“GO AND GET ME A COKE FROM THE SHOP AND TAKE AT LEAST HALF AN HOUR!”
Chantelle’s usual dead expression showed a hint of fear and she ran off out the front door. Stopping to grab her fags, lighter, mobile and purse on the way, of course.
Sue started to cry. She was so fed up with this girl. She was hopeless – rude, disinterested, slovenly and incompetent. She didn’t move chairs to sweep, and so there were always bits of hair drifting about the store. Despite three days of constant explanation, request and guidance, and having it written out and put on the reception table, she still answered the phone “Hello?” instead of the preferred “Hello, you’ve called Sue’s Snips, my name is Chantelle, how may I help you today?” It seemed to take Sue an extra hour to get away from the store by the time she’d finished the work Chantelle was supposed to do. She looked at the clock. In five minutes, the new client would come in; she had to tidy herself up. She took a few breaths, went out the back to splash some water on her face and fix up her make up. She heard the doorbell ring and went to greet the customer. A young woman, perhaps in her late twenties or early thirties, stood there. Her hair was neat and well cut, and Sue was a little confused about why she was here, but hid it in her voice.
“Hello, I’m Sue. You must be Jennifer?”
“Yes, I’m here for a cut?”
‘Terrific grab a seat.”
Sue guided Jennifer to a chair, put a towel and wrap around her, and stood behind the chair. She addressed Jennifer through the mirror.
“Ok, so what were you thinking?”
“Just a trim. Nothing too flash. Perhaps just tidy the fringe off and a little off the back?”
“That sounds great. You’re not after a colour or some highlights?”
“I’m in a bit of a hurry, I’m sorry”
Jennifer pulled out her mobile phone and started to text. Sue grabbed her spray bottle and scissor and started to wet and cut the hair. The door flung open. Chantelle screeched.
“What the fuck is she doing here?”
Sue looked at Chantelle and looked at Jennifer. Jennifer stared straight at herself in the mirror, not acknowledging Sue or Chantelle. Sue looked back at Chantelle. Chantelle screeched again.
“What the fuck is that woman doing here?”
Sue noticed Jennifer starting to blush.
“Chantelle, I think you need to calm down.”
“Don’t you fucking tell me to fucking quiet down, with that bitch there and you are supposed to be helping me and I make one mistake and you can’t… Either she goes or I go.”
Sue was so confused. “Can I talk to you outside, Chantelle?”
“No. Either she goes or I go and that is all there is to it, I just don’t care.”
“Look, you’re clearly upset. Why don’t you go home now and come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about it?”
Chantelle nodded and shut the door. Sue went to turn back to Jennifer, but the door quickly flung open again. “You had better pay me.” She slammed the door.
Sue turned back to Jennifer.
“I’m sorry about that, I’m not quite sure what she is doing…”
She noticed Jennifer quietly crying to herself. She stopped talking and went back to cutting her hair. Neither woman met each other’s eye for several moments. She finished the cut, held up the mirror, Jennifer nodded. Sue brushed the back of her neck and removed the wrap and towel.
“That’ll be twenty-five dollars.”
Jennifer stood and followed Sue to the register. She pulled out the notes and handed them over. Sue put them in the till. Both women stood there uncomfortably. After a moment, Jennifer cleared her throat and put her hands on the counter.
“She wasn’t always like that. Her father was an alcoholic, but it only really started being a problem to the family when she was ten. I kicked him out. She never forgave me. When she was thirteen, she went and lived with him. She blames me. She blames him. I don’t know…” her voice cracked. She turned and left.
Sue watched her leave. She didn’t know what to say. She looked around, grabbed a broom and started to sweep up the hair.