Its A Pain to Train

Last week I went to my local beauty salon to get ‘stinky brown’ as my daughter calls it, known as spray tanned to the rest of us.  The therapist who was to blast me with the stuff turned out to be a girl which I had trained a couple of years ago.  She was curious to know why I would pay fifteen pounds for someone else to apply it when I could so easily have done it at home.  Being only about seventeen years old, she did not seem to fully appreciate that I wanted to just get out the house as my kids were either hanging off mine or each other’s necks and I wanted to get a good result without kiddie or husband hand-prints on my backside.


Whilst I stood there in a variety of odd poses wearing nothing but a paper thong, she regaled me with tales of further training she has attended at college.  She seemed completely unfazed by my nakedness and chatted to me as unselfconsciously as if I were in full attire.  I was impressed that she was so professional in her work and attitude but also wishing she would hurry up.  She may have been comfortable but I was very aware that the blasts of air coming from the spray were encouraging my nipples to stick out and goose bumps to unflatteringly erm, bump.  Some of her stories took me back to my training days and the time when my big opportunity arose. 

It was a typically blah day in July 1996.  I dragged my friend Sarah to the local college where I was studying hairdressing and beauty therapy.  She was a little apprehensive because she was to be my guinea pig for the perming seminar.  Sarah didn’t particularly want curly hair but had agreed, to her detriment, that she would make her melon available whenever I needed a model practice on, and I would give her free hairdos for life.  Sarah knew I was not that great at winding rollers and she also knew there was a good chance she could be going home on the bus listening to the kids on the back seats chanting ‘bog brush bonce’ at her.
Six months previously a couple called Phillip and Heather had given a tutorial on colouring techniques that I had attended.  They were well respected in the hairdressing field and owned a small salon in Abergavenny, South Wales.  Heather had complemented me on my foils and streaking creativity which had, according to her, transformed Sarah’s hair {Sarah had smiled weakly and said it would take some getting used to}, Heather then asked me if I wanted to go and work for her and assuming that she was taking the Mickey I laughed her off.  I was gutted when I found out that she had been serious in her offer and I had more than likely missed my chance in working not only in a good salon but on television shows, catwalk events and magazines.  My usual teachers told me that the couple had been very interested in me, and then when I told them about the job offer they sneered and said that it was only likely to have been offered because the husband likes blondes rather than it being about my talent.  I never bothered to put my teachers’ right back then but it made me determined to show the nasty hags that they were wrong at the next seminar and I hoped the couple would remember me.
As fate would have it, Phillip and Heather were giving the seminar that day and I was keen to make as good an impression on them this time as I had before.  I deliberately waited until all the other girls had settled down in the class and then made my entrance, marching straight up to Phillip I shook his hand, reintroduced myself and thanked him for all his advice on colouring techniques, which he had given last time.  Philip said he remembered me and that he was looking forward to seeing how well I could tackle perming.  Damn, Why couldn’t he have offered the job again right then, I figured that Sarah’s hair was probably going to be fried frizz within the next few hours and there was no way I’d get the job after that.  
An hour and a half into the practical session everything was looking good, the rollers were in nine perfect sections, not too tight or riding up on each other, I had chosen the correct formula for Sarah’s hair type and she was making regular thumbs up signs in the mirror to let me know when Heather or Phillip were watching over my shoulder.  Unfortunately I had forgotten to put barrier cream on Sarah’s neck before applying the lotion and only realised that something was wrong when her eyes started watering and she began rocking backwards and forwards.  
“Whass up” I whispered hoping that nobody was watching, “I’m sorry Lynz but burnie… burnie… burnie… neck…. fix it….owww” I grabbed some cotton wool and calmly went to the sink to drench it in cold water, I prayed as I returned that nobody would ask what it was for but no such luck, Phillip had seen and was now moving towards Sarah who had gone practically purple in the face.  “What was it that I told everyone about barrier cream before we even started the practical session Lyndsey”, I had a sinking feeling in my chest as I mentally waved goodbye to my potential job, my perming certificate and the skin on Sarah’s neck “A layer of barrier cream will protect sensitive skin from burns caused by the perming solution and therefore protect me from lawsuits” I mumbled as I tried desperately to soothe Sarah’s skin which was quickly starting to blister.  “I hope you won’t make that same mistake if you come to work for me”.  It took a few moments to register what he had said, surely he couldn’t have meant it after this balls up but I figured I’d try my luck anyway, “Instead of saying if I come to work for you, how about we say when” If you don’t ask, you don’t get is my motto {one of many} and it paid off, I was told I could start the following month.  
The perm turned out beautifully and there was smiles all around that day, I smiled thinking of what I had achieved and of how much fun I’d have boasting about it to the nasty teachers, The teachers smiled because they could now finally be rid of me, Heather and Phillip smiled because they now had a new skivvy and Sarah smiled briefly about her new ‘do but she still seemed a little forlorn.  “You ok? sorry about your burn but your hair covers it so if it’s a permanent scar you can hide it….silver linings an all that” my feeble joke didn’t rate a response from her, she looked into the mirror through watery eyes and said to my reflection “So I guess this means you’re moving away”.  That part I hadn’t thought about, I felt a pang in my heart as I realised the magnitude of what I had just agreed to, My eyes began to water as well as I replied “Err, yeah, I guess I am”
The move turned out to be a good idea.  I worked at the salon for just over a year, learned a great deal not just about hairdressing but about independence and accountability before moving on to be self-employed as a hair and makeup artist.  I told my former student as she blotted off the excess tan, if you know which direction you want your career to take you and you are clear about your goals, then never let fear of the unknown stop you from progressing.  If things don’t work out, what is the worst that can happen? Is the worst case scenario more frightening than spending the rest of your days berating yourself with your shoulda, coulda, wouldas?  I wholeheartedly recommend taking advantage of every training or studying opportunity which is available to you.  If you put it off till tomorrow, the way that fate and sods law like to mess you around, you never know if tomorrow the opportunity will still be available do you?

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