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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Splitting hairs?

This post is hard to write. But if it helps one other person, then it's worth it.

Part of the reason it is hard to write is because I am so invested in improving my community and I am all about promoting local businesses. And, this blog is not going to be very good advertising for a local business. It's a local business that I have promoted because the owner says if he doesn't get more business he will have to leave our community. Well, maybe he will be the one person this post helps, because he's about to get a lesson in customer service.

Women like to look pretty. We wear jewelry. We get manicures. We spend thousands of dollars on make-up. And we love to get our hair did. (That's how they say it in the South, y'all.)

I'll be the first to admit I am not the world's best hair stylee (I just made that word up.). I go and get all my hair cut off in some cute, short style and then I decide I want to grow my hair out again. And then I get to the point where all I do is pull my hair back in a pony tail and decide that growing it out was a bad idea and then go to the salon and get it all chopped off again. Part of this is probably because hair salons are not cheap, and sometimes I can be. Even more so now that I am on a budget.

When I was back in Michigan, I would drive a half-hour to go to the Aveda Institute in Ann Arbor. Yeah, the students were slower at first, but the school was so reasonably priced and I loved my student stylist so much that I let her try all kinds of stuff on me. That's where I got hooked on manicures, paraffin treatments and highlights (but not waxing. That shit's for sadists.). And, I even went every four to six weeks like you're supposed to when you have short, highlighted hair with layers.

I hadn't ever found anywhere like that in Nashville. Most of the time, I just let my hair go until I could get back to Ohio where I could go see Lisa and Ali, who didn't have big-city prices at their small-town salon. Plus you still get ALL the gossip at the local hairstylist in little towns.

My hair is very thick, so I have to be very picky about a hairstylist. I even had one woman who told me that my hair was very difficult to cut and she worried that she would mess it up and recommended a new stylist for me. Aside from that and one time in high school where I got a new person and a bad cut, I've had little hairstyling trauma in my 37 years on earth. Well, until today.

I have seborrheic dermatitis. It's an inflammation of the scalp that causes scabs and flaky patches that look like dandruff. Hormones and stress don't help. I had it when I was a baby (cradle cap) and then it came back when I hit puberty. So for 25 years I've lived with it. I went to a dermatologist once for it, but the medicine to treat it is considered cosmetic and insurance doesn't pay for it. So, aside from vanity and my secret desire to use shampoo that doesn't smell like tar, I figure I could have much worse medical issues. I should mention that in none of these 25 years has anyone ever refused to cut my hair.

Until today.

Based on my good experience at a beauty school years ago, my lack of funds and my ever-present ponytail, I decided to make an appointment with the Paul Mitchell School by my house. All of my neighbors go there and I have been recommending them because, as I said, the owner indicated if business didn't pick up he might have to leave the neighborhood.

I got there and talked to the stylist about my hair and she even talked me into highlights. I think I was going to look pretty cute. She did a new customer interview with me and asked me if I had any issues with my hair and scalp. I told her about my dermatitis and that there's not much you can do with it if you can't afford the medicine and/or don't have much desire to rub steroids on your head (near your brain) three times a day.

At this point, she didn't mention that she might not be able to do my hair cut. She just told me we had to wait for her instructor to come so she could review my treatment plan. I've been to the Aveda school dozens of times so I was used to that.

The instructor came over and just started rifling through my hair. And then she says, "Oh, it looks like you have some open sore here and it appears to be bleeding, so we can't perform any services today."

As I said, my condition really only hurts my vanity, so I thought maybe I did have an open bleeding sore, and I was embarrassed that I didn't catch it before I wasted their time (and also embarrassed to be publicly called out on my skin condition). She told me just to reschedule when I didn't have an open sore, maybe put some neosporin on it.

She thanked me for being understanding, but at that point I thought I was oozing blood and posed a safety issue so of course I didn't raise holy hell.

I rescheduled. Then I sat in my car and cried. You go to the hair salon to feel good about yourself, and I didn't feel good about myself. I really wanted to pull a Britney Spears and shave all my hair off with clippers and run down the street.

I got home and I went in the bathroom and looked at my scalp. There were sores; there always are. But there was not one single oozing or bleeding open sore.

So, now I'm pissed. I'm calling the Paul Mitchell school tomorrow to cancel the rescheduled appointment, and I'm going to explain to them the following things:
1. I don't think that my scalp condition of 25 years will clear up to their satisfaction in the next two weeks.
2. A beauty school should want to train their students on how to deal with folks with skin conditions. I googled to see if anyone with dermatitis had ever been denied service at a hair salon, and if anyone else has, they didn't bitch about it on the Internet.
3. I will no longer be promoting their school. I was a big cheerleader before, but I plan to tell people what happened to me. No one deserves to be humiliated when they're trying to feel pretty.

I still have no idea where I'll get my hair done. I'll probably just go back to Lisa and Ali's when I am in Ohio next month (That is a long time for ponytails, though.). They know my hair. And, I need to get caught up on the hometown gossip anyhow.

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