If I were a hairdresser, I would want to be called a “dresser” and not a “stylist.”

I would own a little two chair place in a small town, tucked close to a bakery.  Every morning, just as the sun was coming up, I would walk to work.  Down the hill, past the small garage with the peeling green paint that advertises oil changes and tire rotations while you wait.

If I were a hairdresser, I would drink coffee with just a little cream and I would look forward to stopping by the bakery on my way to work.  Tiny bells on a string would tinkle and Mare, the baker, who’d been at work well before the sun, would walk up from the back to greet me.  Light gray apron, flour, hair piled in a bun.  We would talk about business, maybe a little gentle gossip, but nothing mean or nasty.  Mare isn’t that way.

Coffee and white wax bag in hand, I would begin my day.  Turn on some music, Dave Matthews or Ella. I would keep a paper appointment book, right up front next to the glass bowl of round candies in clear twisty wrappers.  Pencils, if I were a hairdresser, I would have a cup of freshly sharpened pencils.  When people called for appointments, the lead would glide across the date of their choice in large looping letters.  I would use arrows to block off their time.

On Mondays I would stock after a busy weekend and Wednesdays would be for dusting and mopping the wood floor with Murphy’s Oil Soap.  If something broke, I would call Steve over at the vacuum and appliance repair shop.  I would cut his hair for free and he would help out when the hydraulics went out on one of my chairs, or a sink backed up.

If I were a hair dresser, my favorite part would be combing through wet hair and the very first slice of each new cut.  I would open at 9 and close at 6.  I would have one of those flip signs, a welcome mat, and I would clean the glass of my front window and my door, both framed in years of eggshell paint, every day.

My door would have tinkle bells too and I would have flowers, wild ones.

The walls of my shop would be warm white and made of cool concrete, and on them would hang things I’ve picked up along the way, just a few.  I wouldn’t want clutter, just color.

I would pay my bills online, but have an old cash register up front.  My place would smell of wood and shampoo, and fresh coffee.  On the days that it rained, I would wear my rain boots and bring soup for lunch.  Jack would sleep in the back room and look up every time the door jingled, but only actually get up when it was the UPS guy.  He carries treats in his pocket.

If I were a hairdresser, I would always bring a sweater because my place would be drafty and I would read when things were slow.  I would keep my place clean, wash my towels in the little stackable back by Jack’s water bowl, and prop the back screen door open on cool days so I could hear the clamoring of garbage trucks in the alley and the chatter as the pizza guys across the way took their smoke break.

I would love my job, take pride in my place.  At the end of my day, I would flip my sign, turn out the lights and walk home with Jack just as the garage was rolling their doors down for the evening.  I would smell dinner cooking and hear laughter before I even hung up my coat or unhooked Jack’s leash.

If I were a hairdresser, Thursdays would be senior day and my backcomb would be famous all the way into the next town.  Life would be simple, routine.  My shop, my neighborhood, would count on that.

That’s all from the laundry room.  Eight Hours.

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32 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Great images and such detail! I’m surprised you aren’t a hairdresser knowing so well what it might be like. What an interesting post, imagining your alternate reality. I once did an exercise in a writing class to write as my alter ego, which was similar in a way. It really forced me to think outside the usual imagery I cling to. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. I love this piece–its imagery is so vivid that I wanted to live in your little town and be one of your regular clients. I want to own a small coffee bar with fresh-baked goodies from the bakery next door. . .Thank you for such a lovely piece 🙂

  3. Your ability to paint an alternate reality always amazes me. And I am surprised by how deeply I feel I want a job where the results are immediate and tangible, where my connection to people is based on things other than how many stats they can spout or how ambitious they are. Beautiful story.

  4. This story appeals to all my senses! Your imagery is so detailed! I want to live in this town too and come into your shop. Can I open a second hand bookstore down the street? 😊

  5. I wish you were a hairdresser, I would come visit you. I would bring you a fresh baked croissant from the bakery next door and pick you wild flowers that you would place in a vase at your work station. Loved this story, it made me want to visit you.

  6. This piece had such a soothing effect on me. As I read your words, I felt as if I was beside you at every step as you embarked on this simple, yet somewhat idyllic routine.

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