Fifty Plus: Always on my first day at work
It never fails. Throughout my working career one of my children or husband had a stupid emergency on my first day at work. Since my husband was active duty military I’ve had a variety of jobs. It’s included everything from the banking and legal industry, California municipality, factory work, journalism, restaurant industry, teaching, and of course my time in the Air Force where I met my husband. I’ve enjoyed every job and it makes for an interesting résumé.
I was having my hair colored and styled at Fantastic Sams. That little shop in Waynesboro, Virginia reminds me of New York or Los Angeles because it’s classy. The stylists are professional from hair, make-up, and dress code. I’ve been going there since they opened. It was unusually busy on a Wednesday and the manager, Ms. Vickie, said, “We really need a part time receptionist for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.” I pondered on it for a moment and said, “I can do that. ‘Thank you for calling Fantastic Sams.’ How do I apply?”
“You just did. Come in tomorrow for training.”
That’s the quickest I’ve landed a job without looking for one.
The beauty industry. I have never done that before and looked forward to my first day. Ms. Vickie just wanted a professional look. White, black, and greys for attire, put on my face (as in make-up), and do my hair. As far as I’m concerned, I get to play dress-up and greet clients. This was going to be fun.
My first day was planned. My hair was already done by Deidre and Ms. Vickie the day before. I put out my make-up and clothes. My husband and daughter were not working that day. I have a new puppy in training and they would take care of her. I was going to impress everyone at work. No need to run out for a kid’s backpack, permission slip, cleats, bat, cap, call from a principal, or lunch. Pause. I’ve been preaching, “check your hubris” as long as I can remember. My hubris was going to greet me later in the day.
Everything was going well. I was training with Sharon the full-time receptionist. She is a delightful and patient woman. I started getting the hang of the computer. Greeting clients was a joy. Checking with the stylists for their appointments or client’s needs gave me a new perspective on hair. It’s a challenging profession with little room for error. Women, especially me, want their hair “just like that photo.” That photo was probably photo shopped and/or on a 16-year-old model. Hair doesn’t work that way. However, these stylists can create some beautiful transformations. It’s nice to check out a client that is glowing because they’re so pleased.
The shop telephone rang endlessly as is to be expected. Sharon handed it to me around 4:20 p.m. “Um, Mom?” It was my little girl. She is the youngest of my three at 26-years-old. “We locked ourselves out of the car at Aldi. Can you bring us the spare set of keys?” I had a panic pause. Everything raced through my head. This is so embarrassing. All I could say was, “Are you kidding me? On my first day at work?” I couldn’t yell it into the phone because we had clients. My daughter knew by my quiet tone that I was vexed. Greatly vexed.
It was humiliating asking Ms. Vickie if it was alright to get the keys. She started laughing and told me these things happen and I should just go home for the day. At first, I thought she meant forever, as in don’t come back because you’re not that impressive. No. She truly found my predicament entertaining.
It was pouring rain and I got soaked before I got to my car. Of course, there was a fender bender on the bridge. I was fuming when I drove up to Aldi. There were my daughter and husband with that pathetic look on their faces.
As I opened the car door, both started apologizing and arguing that it was the other’s fault. They kept at it until right before we got home. “We wanted to stop by and surprise you with this purple orchid. Really, and we didn’t buy it after we locked ourselves out,” they both prattled. I couldn’t be angry but I did check the receipt to see if there was an afterthought purchase.
I’d like to keep this job until I truly retire. With my family’s misadventures, I don’t want any more first days on the job.
Column by Linda R. Jones