Saturday, January 10, 2009

11 Days of Fail: Day 5

Day 5: The Understudy

I was up early enough to swipe the classifieds from my neighbor's paper in an attempt to find employment and on that particular overcast Sunday, my choices were limited to the medical field, something involving carpet remnants or to be the second-string receptionist at a hair salon. I dismissed the middle one because it sounded dirty and despite watching every ep of House--multiple times thanks to the USA Network*--and killing all the viruses in Dr. Mario, I probably wasn't qualified to catheterize the elderly.

That left the hair salon. I stopped in on Tuesday morning** to drop my resume off in person, to show them that I was the type of girl who had initiative and also needed money for a new printer cartridge. From the heavily tattooed staff to the seizure-inducing swirls on the walls, this was obviously the kind of place people went for hairstyles that attract unwanted attention in Home Depot, to overdose on ironic t-shirts, and to leave with a bleeding ear.

The receptionist in charge--the Kerry Collins to my Vince Young if I got the job--eyed me warily as I introduced myself. I A'd a couple of Q's about my experience, attitude and glitter eyeshadow while trying not to stare at his facial piercings. Not only did he look like he'd passed out in a tackle box but when he turned and tossed my pages on the desk, I spied the Yogi Bear tatt on the back of his neck, the one inked below the words "Show Me Your Boo Boo".

We shook hands and swapped contact information before I headed home, taking the lingering scent of peroxide and cigarettes with me.*** Believe it or Not, Mr. Ripley, but they called the next day to ask if I could come in Friday morning for a four hour, twenty-four dollar trial run. I paused briefly to scan the cable guide and see which episode of Maury I'd be missing before giving a verbal thumbs up.

When I rolled in on Friday, He of the Bedazzled Face was there to greet me at the door because "unlocking the facility" was one of the lines dropped into the job description. He extended his hand and said "So, like, I forgot your name. Mine's Brandt, but everyone calls me B-Ice." Sure they do. They may also call you 'The Defendant' or 'That Guy Who Makes Drugs in His Carport'.

"I'm J-Money," I said "But everyone calls me 'That Girl Who Smells Like Pears and Is Really Good at Life'."

We shook, he tossed a Soilwork CD into the system and he considered smiling but that would've sent a metal shard into his cornea. After busying himself with the thermostat and a Swiffer duster, he reached over the desk to pull out a thin folder labeled 'Receptionist's Manual', opening it to remove several menus from a Chinese restaurant and a subscription card to a skateboarding magazine.

"Here, you can read this while I take care of the opening shit. This job's so not hard as long as you remember one thing."

"What's that," I asked, sincerely hoping it didn't involve my Boo Boos.

"Just don't tell any callers that the person they want is taking a shit."

"Should I just say 'in the bathroom' then?"

"No, you should say they've stepped out. Or that they're smoking, either way. Also, there's one word we never say here."


He shook his head, and gave me a sincere expression that was one oversized eye away from being a Precious Moments figurine. "Can't." He paused for emphasis. "We can't say can't here."

Before I could point out the fallacy of that statement, he gestured that I should sit down at the desk. He pulled a green post it pad out of the top drawer, tore a page off and began writing furiously. When he finished, he stuck the note to the phone, then pushed my chair close enough for me to see the script he'd just written out. There was a pause as he waited for me to react, so I read it aloud just to see if he'd lip-sync along as I spoke each word. He did.

I blurred the salon's name, which may or may not have been a scissor-related pun.

"See, that's exactly how you'll talk to the callers! I wrote it down for you!" He beamed, his expression disturbingly similar to the one my dog gets when he humps a pot holder. "Just don't, like, say sir AND ma'am. You've got to pick one."

I nodded and tried to take notes. I couldn't find any paper so I wrote it on my forearm, which was probably the preferred method anyway.

"So, if you think you're ready, I'm going to let you grab the next call."

As if on cue, the phone immediately rang. He pointed at it with one black laquered nail and stage-whispered "Get it! Get it!"

"Good morning afternoon!" I said cheerfully. "Thank you for calling HairBallz!"****

There was a pause on the other side of the line before a weary voice leaked into my ear. "Yeah, how much do y'all pay for gold?"

"Yes sir, you mean, like, gold highlights?" I asked, improvising like the Miles Davis of hourly wages.

"No, like gold gold." He paused for a wet cough. "I got some old wedding bands I need to sell." I was thrilled because this husky-voiced caller was either a for-real hobo or Kathleen Turner. Putting my hand over the receiver, I signaled for B-Ice who was using his Blistex to draw a dagger on his ankle. He wiped his hands, grabbed the phone and gave Kathleen a different set of digits.

"Oh yeah," he said, tracing a 'B' in the desk dust. "We get a lot of calls for the pawn shop. Just give them the right number and don't get freaked out if they ask a lot of questions about guns." I snagged another couple of calls before he seemed satisfied enough to let me fly solo. He spun his chair to face the computer, googling "Scariest Haunted House" and picking dead skin off his lips. I cracked the Receptionist's Manual and read looping cursive explanations of voicemail etiquette and got a second helping of the "say smoking instead of pooping" rule.

The remaining three hours ticked by with the quickness. There were two walk-in appointments, nine phone calls--a pair for the pawn shop--and I ate seventeen Jolly Ranchers out of the Shrek-shaped candy dish on the front desk. I got a tour of the salon from a stylist with an unsubtle hair color that looked like she'd stapled Bill Cosby's sweaters to her scalp. After showing me where the matches were in the Ladies' Room, she shared the secret of sweeping hair clippings, which is to call your boyfriend while the secretary's understudy does it.

I was dismissed promptly at two by the manager of the salon, a severe-looking woman with sallow skin and a dog in her purse. "We'll be in touch," she said, giving me a handful of cash. "If we think you can handle this job."

She wasn't. I guess I couldn't.

*A channel whose programming options are limited to House reruns, overly clever original programming and enough seasons of Law & Order: SVU that you can spend an afternoon watching Mariska Hargitay's hair grow out.
** They were closed on Mondays, quite possibly to let the hallucinogenics wear off.
*** Add a drop of desperation and that's exactly what Samantha Ronson smells like.
**** No, that's not what's stitched on their shirts. I did spend the better part of an hour coming up with alternate names like: Rusty Kuts, Good Head, BITCH I WILL CUT YOU, Scissor Sisters: But Only Because We Cut Hair & Not Because We're Lesbians, Dark Roots, Fuck Off & Dye, Gang Bangs or Turn Your Head & Coif.


emmysuh said...

I know you probably get tired of hearing this, but I love you.

I think it was the list of Scissor/Cut puns that clinched the deal for me.

PS. My captcha is a Tricky Trickster, it's "clate" but as we all know, a c and an l next to each other look like a d, so it APPEARS to be "date." I am stupid -- are you trying to discourage me from commenting?

Craig said...

Oh come on J-Money, "overly clever original programming". I mean, Psych, Monk, and Burn Notice...OK, you make a really good point.

inflammatory writ said...

I cracked the fuck up at the green index card detailing how to answer the phone. I also like that it was the handwriting of a 12 year old girl. Temp jobs, gotta love 'em.

Kbags said...

I bet they never actually hired anyone. They probably just cycled people through "trial runs" to keep costs down. You know, so they could spend $$ on more important things, like frosted highlights and cranial jewelry.

WendyB said...

Awesomely funny.

Justin said...

Bangs for the Memories?

Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed you. I was busy pooping.

menanddevils said...

1.I can't get the stupid OpenID thingy to work. Can anyone? Is this a hoax to make us think that it's okay for Wordpressians to associate with Bloggericans? Anyways, I had to make a blogger ID just to prove my e-love to you. I love you <3. Actually, I love you much more than three.
2.Blood, Sweat & Shears? Honey Combs?
Your words make me laugh till I poop. Thanks for the relief.
I love you.

emily said...

Best salon names in the history of ever, y/y?

*Akilah Sakai* said...

"Not only did he look like he'd passed out in a tackle box..."

"He of the Bedazzled Face was there to greet me at the door..."

"...and gave me a sincere expression that was one oversized eye away from being a Precious Moments figurine."

"I got a tour of the salon from a stylist with an unsubtle hair color that looked like she'd stapled Bill Cosby's sweaters to her scalp."

Falling the hell out of my chair laughing at this shit. You are insanely creative. Keep doing your thing.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Wow, this was only a couple of junkies dealing in front of the salon and a Russian rock star away from being Clerks. I think you have a future writing movie for slackers.

X-Country2 said...

"Good morning afternoon!"

Well played, J Money. Well played.

Merry said...

I would type something profound, but I'm too busy giggling.

contc - a movement of people who are against being technically correct.

Maxie said...

How could they not hire you?!

Tell us the truth-- you totally let it slip that someone was pooping. I know you did.

Mike said...

"Can't." He paused for emphasis. "We can't say can't here."

But.... He said it three times. Twice in the same sentence. And he was THERE. Which is HERE with a T.

Mike said...

I almost forgot. If you think you can't crank out a book go here.

You can be the anti of this anti.

Anonymous said...

I love you. This is fucking hilarious if only for the last 5 lines but of course the whole of it is awesome.

Please don't stop writing.


Captcha: pargefat. WTF?

Josh said...


All I can say is...Wow...

But, hey, I know how you feel about being unemployed...and so does half a million other people. So you're definitely not alone...

It sucks but at the same's awesome.

Laura said...

Couple of hairdressers I've seen in London:

It'll Grow Back
Curl Up and Dye

Great blog - love your style.

L x

Menta Lee Hill said...

Well, you're just a scream, that's glad I stumbled across your blog. You needs to write a book, girlie.

Rose and Jill said...

I almost fell off my chair laughing at the names you came up with for the salon! Some of those would be money!

Buf said...

Oh man, that was hilarious. As with all your other admirers, I love you list of salon names!! My favorite has to be Fuck Off and Dye! I may have to come up with some money so I can borrow that name from you (assuming it's ok with you) and open up such a salon. Keep up the great work!

Miss B said...

There was a comedy/murder-mystery play that ran for ages and ages in Chicago (hell, it might still be running for all I know) -- set in a hair salon. The name of the play (and the salon in which it took place)...Shear Madness.

And the actors answered the phone in the salon like this: "Shear Madness -- we curl up and dye for you!"

I think I saw the show 3 or 4 times when I was a teenager. It was one of those mystery things that had a potentially different every time. It was horrible, but in such a good way. Ah, my wasted youth...

Dexter Colt said...

I wish you the best, but I almost don't want you to ever get a job. These interviews are too funny. But, I laugh with you...not at you.

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

How about Coif It Up: Your Money That Is!

Reluctant Runner said...

That's weird ... they call me: 'That Girl Who Smells Like Pears and Is Really Good at Life', too.

Kelsey said...

"Fuck Off & Dye"? Wow, I was trying so hard to stifle my laughter.

P.S. Did I spell 'stifle' right? I'm too lazy to check.

Sharon, The Queen Blogger said...

okay, I have an idea; how about you call up the salon and say your a freelance writer doing a story on the real lives of salon owners and you want to conduct an interview with him for national publication.

You need to have a list of insanly irrelevant questions like:
If you were a haircut what style would you be?
Ask him to verify the rumor that some hair dyes give people tremmors.
Ask him which episode of House he liked best as it related to avant guard hair styles.


zlionsfan said...

At first I thought that perhaps one of your days of fail would be one of the days on which you didn't write anything about a previous day of fail.

While that may still be true, I then realized that you actually post your days of fail, whereas people like me bury them, run away in panic, return to the scene, look around, and casually bury them again, just to show that they're not actually our fail and we're just trying to help out in the manner that all good cats would do. Or maybe that's just my neurotic cat.

So anyway, I look forward to the remaining days whenever you happen to post them. And episodes of LOLHouse, because I don't actually watch House but would like to stay caught up. And anything else, because I do enjoy your writing, even though I was too lazy to vote for your blog.

Becca the Brit! said...

HAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAA this blog had me in stitches. You have a new follower! :0) said...

hahahahaha. I'm wondering if they have a new person come in every day to do the whole phone & sweep the trimmings routine - just so they only have to part with $25/day?

Miss B. said...

Delurking to let you know you won some sort of award for you attitude, it's not liquor but hey..


Miss B.