WHEN IN ROME, (do as the Italians say)
It was a two day event that would hand over to me the diploma that allowed me to finally be the male equivalent of Miss Beatrice. Now all I had to do was to find a job where I could be hired as a new stylist,as I was hungry and ready to take on a professional job. Fate arrived the same day that my license arrived in the mail. I noticed a sign in the window of our local shopping mall that was advertising for a
position. Working in a mall environment seemed to have some positive aspects and it would guarantee a steady flow of people through the door, which would make it easy to build a strong client base.
I took the initiative and applied and was interviewed with the manager who ran the salon. She was a no nonsense direct woman who was not so certain of taking on a newbie and asked me to work for a day to see the skills that I possessed. I arranged a day that I could work and proceeded to show my abilities by doing nineteen people the first day, which was more than she did that day. She was impressed and offered me a permanent position. Despite the fact that she was the manager, I still had to speak with the owner. Not understanding the dynamics of the business side of a salon yet, I found it a little strange that I would need to speak to the owner if he had a manager, but kept my mental inquiry silent and would begin my new full time position the following week. It would start off with quite a bang and would offer the beginning of many surprises, that would lay in store for me.
My manager was quite an exceptional stylist herself. She was a true country girl who always deigned to be a hairdresser. She was very attractive and tan which made her platinum teased hair seem even whiter. Her styling technique was very methodical and drawn out but the results were dynamic. Her husband was a motorcycle enthusiast and he would bring her to work and the wind from the ride barely moved her sprayed hair. They were a volatile couple and would argue in front of anyone and never gave it a second thought. It was apparent that they were very happy being together but their affection for each other would get in the way sometimes. There was nothing that she missed and she was acutely aware of most everything that was going on in her salon environment. While she was always observing me, I was also observing her and often we would connect in a silent stare down. In some ways I could feel that I challenged her position because of my capabilities, yet I did not possess yet the managerial skills that she had. I learned early that was something I needed to know and she could sense my hunger for information.
Two weeks into my work this very handsome man appeared in our salon and I watched her disappear with him for a couple of hours. When they returned he summoned me to please go with him as he was the owner and wanted to speak to me. There was this attraction to him immediately and also this feeling of uncertainty as to who he was and what he was all about. The trepidation was there because of my youth but I went along with him with respect to his position. He introduced himself to me as Antonio, or as the staff called him Mr. Tony. At six feet tall and wearing a suit that would rival Dean Martin, his golden brown eyes peered through you intensely and his wavy black hair draped sexily across his forehead. It was all I could do to stop thinking intimate thoughts and concentrate on the conversation that he was making.
He talked of his position and that he was the owner of this salon and four others in the south Florida area. I was to think of him as an equal and that if I was true to his company that he would make me a part of his work family. He was told by my manager that I had unbelievable work skills and she thought that I had the potential to go far with his company. He made it clear that his manager was the person to handle the needs of my inquiries, but that if I was not getting the help that I needed, that I was to call him personally and he or one of his “reps” would take care of any problems that were not solvable from the salon manager. He spoke with a brogue Italian accent and used his hands in gestures to make his points. He was debonair and had all the sensuality that would make anyone stop and stare. I was smitten from the beginning in a very hypnotic way and seemed to agree on anything he asked me to do. He could smell the innocence about me and knew that I would be easily manipulated………….or so he thought.
The one thing that he did not count on was my clairvoyant ability to sense things and my keen awareness that surrounded me at all times. Over time I would see what the truth was and learned swiftly how to manipulate things my way and have it seem like it was his idea. I was playing with a double edged sword and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My natural instincts took control and I went with the flow. Time would be my storyteller, and one that would also make a great HBO series.
I was not alone in my observing the ongoing day to day dealings in the salon. Most of the staff never bothered to expound on them. They just kept to their work and stayed out of any affairs that had to do with management. I, on the other hand, studied everything that went on and kept my eyes and ears open to many things.
I noticed the first unusual happenings which would always take place at closing time. All the cash money that flowed through the register drawer during the day always seemed to disappear by the end of the day. I witnessed that the bulging pockets on my managers styling smock would seem suddenly deflated when she returned from her bathroom trips. I made a mental note to become more aware each day as the process repeated daily. I have to say it was hard not to accuse yet I needed to find out where the cash was going, and that I would have to do very secretly. My plan would have to involve being the last one to leave and lock the door. It took a couple of weeks but the chance finally arrived when I would be the last one in the salon that night.
Ensuring that no one was around and checking the parking lot for signs of any staff cars, I made my way back into the salon and started my hunt for the hiding place of the cash.
It took a while but I managed to find the door to a space hidden underneath a cabinet with a false bottom shelf that when lifted exposed the handle to the metal safe hidden in the floor. Being careful not to misplace anything I pulled open the handle and exposed the thick wad of cash banded together. Nothing more was inside the box except the cash and register tickets. I put it back as I had found it and began my exit out the salon door. As I was locking the door I noticed a group of four well-dressed men walking in my direction, so I hurriedly finished and quickly walked on. Unfortunately my curiosity was taking control so I exited out the mall door and looked for a place where I would be able to view the salon door to see who they were and where they were headed.
It took standing on the edge of a planter outside but I did manage to see Mr. Tony and three others enter the salon, and within a couple of minutes leave, and relock the door. If it wasn’t bad enough that I was spying, I had this major urge to go back in and check the floor box to see if the money was gone. Why in the hell I needed to do that is a question that is still unanswerable. I was told innumerous times that if you feel the need to ask the question, you had better be ready for the answer because you may not like to hear the response. I made my way back into the salon and went straight back to the hidden floor box, and as I opened it, I was not surprised that the money was no longer there.
I closed it back up, locked the front door yet again, and made my way home with too much information settling within my youthful head. The old adage was right as the answer to my inquiry turned out to be something I should have kept my curiosity out of, but now it was too late, I was going to keep the secret within yet wanted to find out more as to what was going on. Little situations would continue to unfold
each week and I began to get involved in the most discreet way. I knew there had to be more information as to what was involved in the business dealings of the salon.
On two other late night occasions I saw the same repeated scenario occur and accepted the fact that it happened every evening when everyone was assuredly gone. I never mentioned my snooping to my manager, as it was obvious that personal matters were creating problems for her and those fluctuating mood swings would dictate the atmosphere we would be subjected to, which was maddening and intimidating to all who came under her attack. Once again fate stepped in and one afternoon Mr. Tony appeared and whisked her away to lunch causing us to have to move several of her clients around to accommodate her extended luncheon. Upon her arrival, and just the way she looked, we could tell she had been crying profusely and was in no mood to talk, so the salon fell gloomily quiet for the rest of the day.
I made sure that I straggled behind that evening so that I could inquire as to how she was and to extract some information from her. That however was not to be as Mr. Tony appeared suddenly. The fear on her face was very noticeable and it showed in her body language. I made my exit swiftly and said my goodbyes but wanted to stay within the confines of the salon so I could get scoop on what was up. I left but located my familiar planter and stepped up on it and then proceeded to slip off and gash my leg badly. That should have been my sign to just go home, but I was not leaving until I could get a better view of what was happening inside the salon. My leg ached and blood began to soak my lower pants leg and still I did not leave. It was apparent from that distance that some confrontation was occurring and the flailing of their arms and fast movements of their mouths led me to the conclusion that he was not happy with her. I just did not know why, but wanted to know in the most dire way. Curiosity killed the cat………I would soon understand why.
It would seem to me that the relationship between Mr. Tony and Marla, my manager, had more involvement to it than just business.
It would come to pass that her husband happened to stop by the salon unexpectedly when she was having one her 3 hour lunches with Mr. Tony and when he went looking for her, he too found out more than he been searching for. This lead to a huge conclusive decision and she would be told to quit and had to leave the salon or else her husband was going to do some damage as well as the damage that would have been done if he really had made a first move toward retribution. Luckily they both decided she would leave our salon. This would leave us without a manager. It was assumed that it had involved a private intimacy between Mr. Tony and Marla, however that would soon prove to be just an assumption that we all would make due to the nature of the swift exit and a very angry husband.
(1: - Lesson one- never assume anything )
That particular day was quite long and chaotic and still as a salon we had no leader and I was not sure how we would close the shop for the day considering it was her job to take care of. As the day wound down and staff began leaving, I stayed behind to make some kind of attempt to close out the day’s transactions and clean up for the next day. Mr. Tony appeared from out of nowhere with his three other “reps” and explained the I had to sit with him and talk and that it was not an option to leave just yet. Panic ensued within as I thought that I was doing things that he did not want me to do and that I was about to be the next fired….
So much for a first job experience!