Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Note to self: Don't be passive-aggressive with the person using sharp objects on your head

After work today, I had an appointment to get my hair cut at the salon I've been going to for years, by Janet, a woman who's cut my hair at least two or three times before. After a series of transit mishaps that included my just-purchased new kitchen toy from Williams-Sonoma falling onto the tracks, I miraculously arrived 2 minutes early for my scheduled slot. I checked in at the desk and was told that Janice would be with me in about 10 minutes. Uh, but my appointment is in 2 minutes, isn't it?

A few minutes later, my appointment time now passed, Janet walked in from outside carrying a bag that clearly contained food, and disappeared into the back of the salon. A few moments later, it was 10 minutes past my appointment, and I walked up to the front desk and said, "My appointment was at 6:45, right?" Now, this was deliberately passive-aggressive. I cop to that. But I was also fully prepared for the answer to be, "No, it was at 6:30 and when you were 15 minutes late she gave up on you and went to get dinner since you're her last client before break," or "No, it's at 7:00, so sit your impatient ass back down." But the receptionist confirmed, and said someone would be out to wash my hair in a minute.

That "someone" was Janet, obviously pulled away from her meal, still with onion breath. As she briskly shampooed me, she asked me if I had another appointment. "No," I said calmly, knowing full well why she was asking. "Why?"

"Oh, I thought you were in a hurry," she said. I'm not the only one who studied abroad in the mystical land of Passive-Aggressiva.

"No," I said, really annoyed now for the first time, "it's just that I had an appointment here and you were eating a sandwich." My point made, I added helpfully, "Did you get backed up with clients earlier?" I wanted to give her an out, a chance to say, "Yeah it was crazy and I missed my break, I'm so sorry." But she didn't reply at all, and I'd swear the water got a little bit hotter.

It's worth mentioning at this point in the story that I have a history with this woman. And she is not, in fact, a woman. She revealed this fact to me after I mentioned "my partner" in conversation the first time she cut my hair. She was new at the salon at the time, and told me no one there knew she was trans and she was nervous about it. Given this, it's not clear why she told me – she's petite and on hormones and passes extremely well, and I really wouldn't have guessed – except that I guess she needed to share with someone and decided she could trust me. (I realize a hair salon seems like it would be the gayest place on earth, but I'd say 99% of the people who work in this one are women... women with vaginas.) It was very sweet and sort of fun and also kinda inappropriate. It also put me in the awkward position of feeling like I had to see her again, regardless of how well she cut my hair, lest she think I was avoiding her because of her confession, or become paranoid that I had "told on her." I've consistently liked the staff at this place, so I generally just go whenever it suits my schedule and see whomever is available, but Janet has cut my hair a few more times since then, and her chattiness has decreased while her skill has increased, and I feel like I'm supporting a fellow person of queerness, so it's all good.

Anyway, over in the chair Janet had moved from passive-aggressive to just plain aggressive. On the bright side, I've never had my hair cut so quickly. On the down side, I'm not sure that's a good thing. Scissors. Moving very quickly. Very close to my face. I repeatedly asked her to slow down, said I wasn't in a rush, attempted small talk, tried to be kind and soothing. No luck. A couple of times, I got genuinely nervous and imagined a scenario in which I'd have to ask her to stop and have someone else finish my haircut. As if there was any doubt after our first meeting, this person is far too high-maintenance for me. I don't want to have to be responsible for calming down the person wielding scissors near my face.

There's no clever ending to this story. The haircut is okay, no blood was drawn, and Janet and her penis remained angry throughout. On my way out, I complained to the woman at the desk about the experience, but I tipped Janet as usual anyway, just in case our schedules dictate that I get her again even though I'd rather not. Lesson learned: There are some things you don't complain about. I will keep this in mind next time I'm at the dentist or proctologist.