You Didn’t Tip Her, Did You?

Here's a tip worth every cent: when you're providing most of the service, don't tip the "professional."

After I tell this story, the guaranteed question that follows is: “You didn’t tip her, did you?”

“Yes,” I reply, ashamed of myself. “She needed the money and she was going through some rough times. Maybe she was depressed or drinking…”

I stop the justifications. Why bother? In the minds of anyone rational, this is just another example Book-Smart Lorna having absolutely no common sense. I am blessed/cursed with an uncommon sense in which rationality doesn’t just take a back seat, it’s not even in the vehicle.

Want to hear the story? Sure you do.

K was my hairdresser. She ran her small business out of her home, which had a decent-enough salon set-up attached to it. The trouble began for her when her husband, a prison guard, got arrested for something lewd that involved drugs and a minor. She left him and her salon (but not her profession) behind.

Knowing what I know now, maybe she acted too hastily...

Being a woman of true grit and absurdity, K rented a double-wide trailer and created a make-shift hair salon in the middle of it. She called her former clients and enthusiastically assured us that she could provide all services as before, only in a more “homey” setting. I believed her. This is where my trouble started.

I made an appointment for a perm, something she did with great results. It was a Saturday afternoon. K welcomed me in. I never saw the inside of her previous home, but her current residence was a wreck. I know there was furniture because all kinds of junk was piled on top of various things that had either metal or wooden legs.

She said she was too busy to finish unpacking. I think her boxes exploded.

“Lets get that hair permed!” K wisked my coat off me and threw it on top of a pile of other clothes, probably dirty laundry. “I’ve got a party to go to tonight.”

I sat at her kitchen table covered with papers, dishes, and trays of hair styling paraphernalia. My chair was a regular chair. Homey. She rolled my hair in the 943 perm rollers, squirted the vile-smelling chemical compounds all over my head, and set a kitchen timer she found under a pile of rubble. Then she proceeded to apply fingernail polish to her nails while phoning a friend.

K couldn't take a chance on messing up those beautiful nails. Afterall, it was only my scalp that was being eaten away by those stinking chemicals...

The timer dinged. K kept talking and blowing on her nails. My scalp began to tingle. “Um, K, the timer went off.”

“It’s okay, a few more minutes won’t hurt a thing.”

10 minutes later, “Ah, K, my head is starting to burn.”

I wished there was just a bird on my head tap dancing, pecking and pulling out my hair.

“I’ve got a client. Sorry. I’ll have to call you back.” Then she turned to me. “Okay, time to rinse.”

The kitchen sink, in which the rinse was supposed to happen, was filled with dirty dishes. K said, “Would you mind clearing the sink? I don’t think my nails are completely dry.” By this time the chemicals were seeping into my brain. I washed her damned dishes and rinsed my own head just to save myself.

At least she was eating regularly.

K applied another chemical to my rollered-head–a relaxer. I was supposed to sit under a dome-dryer for the relaxer to work on my hair. Her dome-dryer didn’t work and she couldn’t find a blow dryer. Lucky for me, her double-wide trailer had a forced-hot-air heating system. Unlucky for me the heating vents were on the floor–the dirty floor, on which I had to lie down with my head as close to the vent as possible (but only when the furnace kicked on).

What? It's not working? You want me to lie down where? I don't see your floor...

Drying curled up hair using a heating vent takes a while; so K had time to apply another coat of nail polish. This meant that she had gorgeous nails and I did the 2nd rinse and extracted the 943 rollers. She managed to cut my hair, but I passed on having her style it.

Miss Kitty has the right idea, but her hair is short and dries quickly.

I had time to think while lying in the floor waiting for my hair to dry. Would K charge me for this fiasco? What am I doing here?

She charged me full price for the perm. And your question would be,”You didn’t tip her, did you?”


At least I never went back.

~ by Lorna's Voice on August 2, 2011.

48 Responses to “You Didn’t Tip Her, Did You?”

  1. […] You Didn’t Tip Her, Did You? is a true story about a very bad experience with an independent”hair technician.” […]

  2. I hope for your sake that if you do have a bad experience and tip, that you don’t return. That was my only way to save my dignity (and my hair)!

  3. Just, wow. At least I know I’m not the only person out there who tips regardless of the experience.

  4. I must be a walking case in point for your neighbor. I have a Ph.D. and no common sense (but an abundance of uncommon sense)! Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting. Hope to see you again soon.


  5. Oh man….I’ve gotten a perm twice. Not the best choice, but my hair grows out quickly. I hate how that stuff smells. I also have little to no common sense. My neighbour likes to say the more education you have the less common sense. I worked for her out of her home and every year I’d do something that would just prove her point…..

  6. Well, this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me every day–not even every decade (Thank goodenss!). I’m glad you got a good laugh from this story.

  7. OMG and you think my life is way too much fun… you’ve got me beat LOL

  8. Lorna, I wouldn’t tip her and I wouldn’t pay her. I understand hard times; however, some people bring the hard times upon themselves. Some people need a wake up call to reality. You are too nice.

  9. I’m thinking Fran Drescher could play K and, hmmm, Goldie Hawn could play me?

  10. What a funny story and you are such a patient person to sit through the whole thing! This scene should be in a movie!

  11. Forgive but never forget–that’s my motto! I was foolish to even let her start once I saw the conditions of her home, but I learned and I got a hilarious story out of it! 😉

  12. I read the line as “You didn’t trip her, did you?” After reading the whole story, that is what I want to do to her for your hair. Some nerves! I have had my eyebrows plucked wrong and I thought that is as bad as a salon trip can be. This was sad. Real sad.

  13. You are too kind and very much like me. I would rather leave feeling like a fool than hurt someone’s feelings. I’m glad I finally told the story, though. It was therapeutic!

  14. I knew I could count on you, Al, to go for the puns! I love a good pun and you’re full of ’em.

  15. Izzy, I was way beyond my ex-boyfriend and well into married life. Perms were all the rage and I was raging. As all things in my life, it takes me a while to learn; but once learned, I never forget!

    Thanks for the “Cyber-hugs.” I need them!

  16. Yeah, now I do! Where were you and your sagely advice when I needed it? 😉

  17. Good to know that there are a few of us who understand that common sense is highly overrated!

  18. It’s very nice to have come across someone else with “Uncommon Sense”. Good expression for a disability we both share

  19. Hooley-dooley … truth is stranger than fiction … AND a service tip – what the? Lorna, Lorna, Lorna – ‘Hairstyling 101’ – Never approach femme (in depressed, recently abandoned state) clutching scissors in one hand and hairdye in t’uther – aah but y’know that now, Yes? cheers catchul8r molly

  20. Lorna … Lorna … Lorna … I’m seeing way beyond this story.. Here you are again channeing that short, kinky haired girlfriend from the X-Beau.
    Gosh … a perm. Really ????

    You are not telling me that you fall into that straight hair wants curly hair and curly hair wants straight hair syndrome …!!! ???

    Oh … the tales you tell … okay – I accept that this was when you were young and naive. ~~~~ : – O

    Hugs and Toodles,
    Izzy xoxox

  21. I’m glad this hair-raising experience didn’t do any permanent damage to your scalp. The sheer nerve of her! (I know your other readers didn’t lower themselves to puns, but someone had to do it.)

    I might be able to help you on this. I believe I just saw her on a recent episode of “Hoarders”. I guess her other clients weren’t willing to clean up for her.

    This is one great story which just HAD to be told! Thanks.

  22. As horrendous as it is – made me smile the whole time. Good god what a story. I think tipping her & not saying a word just means you’re a polite woman. I know I never have the nerve to tell the hair dresser off when I’ve asked for a trim and come out nearly bald. I can’t imagine she would have stayed in business for much longer. Total classic.

  23. I swear it’s all true. Once I was in the situation (like a prisoner of war), I did what I was told to do on the hope of escaping with my life (and hair).

  24. See, I knew it…

  25. It’s 100% true. I wish I had an imagination wonky enough to make something like this up. All the pictures were nabbed from Google Images. I never would’ve thought to document the scene of the crime. But her house did look like that…

  26. I never even thought about possible health hazards. Yikes! I live a charmed life, well, sort of… Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting!

  27. Thanks so much! I think most of us have at least one “we’beauty parlor” horror story to tell. If not, we haven’t lived long enough. 😉

  28. Hysterical. I had a sort of parallel experience when I went to a salon for a perm and when it was ready to process the hot water heater crapped out so the beautician had me walk through a crowded parking lot to my car and followed me home where she rinsed it in my kitchen sink (no dishes). I also tipped her but found another salon. Yikes. Are we fools? I loved this story.

  29. The nerve of that woman! You were taking a health risk just entering that hoarder’s haven! You learned a valuable lesson and lived to write a very amusing tale about it–good for you.

  30. Sorry, but I was chuckling from beginning to end thinking this was a fictional piece … but it’s not is it? OMG, I can’t believe you washed someone else’s dishes and rinsed your own head. How did you get away with taking pics of that mess she lives in?

  31. Ha! I’ll have you know that my big hair ‘fro look of 1978 was totally natural, probably due to my ethnicity. I’ll have to dig up my wedding picture from 1980, where I had a major haircut three days before I got married, and STILL looked like a white fill-in stage singer for Earth Wind and Fire.

  32. I’m sure its 100% true, but I starting disbelieving you when you did the dishes and rinsed your own hair, although if my head was on fire, I think I would have been chucking dishes at the wall….and then laying on the floor over the heat vent to dry. Good god, did she really think that was okay? Funny story though.

  33. No, there’s no way my mind is that twisted! Truth is so much stranger than fiction (at least my proves that old addage true). Thanks for reading and commenting.

  34. I don’t know what happened to her, but I found a great hair dresser. Happy ending!

  35. Hmm…you were kinda between a rock and hard place – needing our hair done is a serious matter for us women. I can see you feeling a bit sorry for her. I hope she ended up getting herself together.

  36. Wow! What a funny/horrible story!! I don’t think you could have made this up. Great reading.

  37. “Poor” is right! $70 poorer. It was a lesson and experience I never forgot. My hair has remained chemical-free since then (approximately 20 years). Thanks for reading, commenting, and caring!

  38. Never, ever, went back. I don’t even know if she’s still alive. Someone getting a perm from her after me may have killed her…;)

  39. Hey, guys get perms–well, they used to…

  40. Oh no. She was oblivious, more focused on her nails and the upcoming party than on me. Makes for a funny story, though…

  41. I’m glad you found the post…what? Therapeutic? 🙂

  42. Perfect reading after working all day.

  43. The question is did she see anything wrong with the process? I think not.

  44. Tales like these make me thankful I’m a guy. Beauty – it ain’t pretty!

  45. And you NEVER went back to her… right… RIGHT?!?

  46. You poor thing! Well at least it’s over with and you know better now!

  47. No, this is 100% true. I couldn’t have made this up if I tried. My imagination isn’t that twisted.

  48. Please, PLEASE tell me that this is a work of fiction?!?

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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