Monday, January 23, 2012


Assuming the worst scenario with not much professional experience behind me, I totally prepared for my termination of employment. Why I felt that I was to be fired was totally an immature thought that I would not be needed any longer.
With great anxiety I sat down with him and the other three. He began to explain the day’s events and his predicament that led him to major disappointment with Marla’s sudden departure. He made it very clear that disappointments like that was not something he tolerated and would rather it never happen again, and like a caged dog I readily agreed. I had no real definite idea what I was agreeing to but just
moved with his conversation as he continued to speak. No one else spoke, when he spoke, and then he laid out his new plan for manager replacement and I was his choice which rendered me speechless,despite the fact that I was not talking anyway.

I was only nineteen, what the hell did I know about running a salon? After a long silence, I found my voice once again and explained that I had no experience in running a salon as I had only been out of school for just eight months. He made it very clear that he was aware of my skills and that I was not going turn him down. He mentioned that I would get the training I needed to do things the way he had set up.

I already had an insight into his “training” methods, I just was not sure I wanted to take the job. While he could have lured me into anything because of his demanding presence I stood up to him out of fear and spoke of my uncertainties, which for all purposes, was not acceptable on his part. He had his mind made up and I was his choice and I was to begin the job the next day. I was told to plan for most of
the upcoming week to be in “training”. How I loved his wording, as it would train me alright, and not so much in the salon management skills.

There was not much at all to the training the next day, except to learn what banks the money was to be deposited into and of course, was shown the “surprise” hiding place for the cash and daily tickets. The deposits were to consist of only checks as the major credit card situation had not taken on full force yet so it was all checks and cash. I was taught to make sure that the cash and checks balanced with the ticket totals from the register. Supplies were to be ordered on Monday and I was to be available every Tuesday afternoon, for a meeting with Mr.Tony and his “reps”.

Those meetings were a total rehash of all the previous things we had been over time and again. Banking issues were the major dilemma usually, as I would be in receipt of the daily deposit and the balance on the account was always nearly empty.
Our paychecks never bounced and they were from another bank in Chicago that did not match the ones that I deposited into. I made the fatal mistake of asking why the checks came from a Chicago bank and was abruptly informed that I did not really need to know why the checks came from that bank, it was none of my business and that was that. Mr. Tony felt very uncomfortable when asked about things he did not want to talk about, and his eyes would narrow and leer at you as if trying to hypnotize you to stop talking. I was a man of many questions and to this day, that still remains the same.

I began my new position and took on all the responsibilities that he sent my way. It would prove to be difficult at times to play the role of manager when the staff was much older than myself. I endured and moved things along as I was told to do.
After my first year of working for him I remarked that the salon could use an updating to keep in step with the changes in our industry. That would “cost money” he exclaimed and was unnecessary. I mentioned very directly that I would rather seek another place to work than keep working in an outdated environment.
He readily assured me that would not happen, so I stood up to leave and he quickly and strongly grabbed my arm causing me to flinch to which I yanked it away and told him never to do that again. I was done talking and made it much clearer for him to realize that I would not continue to work for him if he would not update the salon, in other words I was giving him my two week notice. I spoke it angrily and turned and walked away from him. I was done talking, evidently he was not as he and HIs “reps” came charging up behind me requesting me to stop, of which I did, so I turned around and stared him down. He felt the need to tell me to go back to work and he would talk to me later. I said nothing, turned back around and walked out the door toward my car, got into it and drove home, literally peeing my pants with the fear that ran through me by actually standing up for myself.

Shakily, I drove home and awaited my fate. I began to question myself as to what I had done earlier, but I meant what I said and would not back down from what I felt was needed to get changed. I phoned the salon to inform them that I would not be coming back in for the day and they informed me that Mr.Tony wanted to talk with me right away. That was not going to happen and I meant it. I hung up and decided to rest, as the whole scenario had taken a toll on my demeanor.

I was awakened by the brutal knocking on my apartment door and peeked out the window to try and see who it was at the door. It was almost ten at night and I had no clue who was visiting me at that hour. I called out and asked who it was and his reply made my heart jump out of my throat. Mr. Tony had located my apartment and wanted to speak to me. Immense fear spread though my body because of the way I left things earlier with him, and I did not want to have another scene like I had earlier that day.

With great trepidation and angst, I opened the door and invited him in and wondered if the other three “reps” were with him, to which they remained in the car. Silence filled the room when he sat down and I was petrified to start any conversation.
Mr. Tony cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his hair many times before speaking. I so remember watching his beautiful hair constantly fall across his forehead and noticed that this was his nervous habit when confrontation was occurring. He made it clear that he did not like me walking away from him and suggested strongly that I never do that again. I was to stay in conversation with him until he was finished speaking, and before he could speak further I reminded him of his manhandling me and I did not like being forced to do something that I did not want to do. I came to him as he had suggested I do when having some business needs and told him that he let me down by refusing my idea to update the salon. He tried to interject with his opinion and I just continued to spew out my feelings and concluded to him that I would not work another day in that environment and the way it looked. He informed me that WE had a problem, and I readily told him NO, he had the problem since there was not going to be any person in charge there anymore. I was not returning except to get my items that were personally mine. He stood up Quickly, and breathed deeply and made it clear that no one speaks to him like that, I pushed the boundaries and reminded him that I just did.

He opened the door and left without speaking to me again. I watched as his car sped off and could feel the uneasiness begin to spread once again throughout my body, I was certain this was not over yet. It was going to be a long night as I kept my guard up and waited for the worse to come. I really had no idea what to expect from standing up to him as I had only recently gotten a better understanding as to just who I was working for. The explanations that my best friend pointed out suggested
strongly that I was involved in a family much like a syndicate. I must admit that I did not know much about it other than what I learned in textbooks, but it did explain a lot of things that made me curious about his business dealings. Those explanations kept reiterating in my mind which just added to the fear of what lay ahead.

Responsibility played into my decision to go back to the salon that next morning to let everyone know that I was leaving and to retrieve my personal things. It ranked up high for one of the the longest drives of my life so far. When I pulled in to park near our entrance I noticed a large white truck unloading a bunch of furniture and as I made my way into the mall ,I noticed the salon was already open and our old stations and dryer furniture sitting out front and chaos inside as there were a dozen men removing the old furniture and replacing it with new furniture.
In the middle of the salon, directing all of this madness stood Mr. Tony. I was dumbfounded as to how in one night all of this was arranged but remembered what my friend had explained and now the addition that was hard for me to sum up finally totaled in my mind’s understanding of just what I was dealing with. I knew now that I was in too deep and needed an escape out. Mr. Tony noticed me and waved for me to come to where he was, yet I stood frozen with uneasiness as I literally could not get my feet to move because realization was folding in on me. In one full swoop the entire salon was refurbished with new furniture.
He explained that over the weekend it would be painted and new mirrors would be in place. In no uncertain terms he made it very clear that he had done what I had asked for and that I would not be leaving as I had planned. He even acknowledged that he understood how bad the place needed renovation and that I had guts pushing the limits with him. Then came the best part "I did you a favor and now I expect one in return”. At that moment I could feel the blood drain from my face and I began to understand what really happened with the previous manager and here I was in the same situation, except I was getting exactly what I asked for which only served to cement the deal of loyalty.

I began to wonder if I would end up being next bag of cement if I did not cooperate as he had suggested. With the facts at hand I realized this situation was going to take some serious thought and timing as to planning my exit.
With a newly decorated salon, and my job once again in place,I found myself working daily just waiting for the next bomb to drop.

In looking back I realized that there was something pending and I just did not know what it could be. My gut feeling did not let me down once again. A man appeared at the front desk looking lost a few weeks later, and as he showed his card and badge he asked for Mr. Tony. I intercepted and told him he did not work here but he came by once a week to check on things and I could give him a message. He asked who I was and I told him and he left me with a card to give to Mr. Tony. It was my first awareness of an Internal Revenue Service agent, of which he was a representative.

The visit from that IRS gentleman only added to the list of insecurities I was rapidly developing. The crowning moment of “on the edge” realization would arrive in the most unusual way and will go down as one of the funniest and most frightening moments experienced in my long career.

It was late afternoon and my client was a new referral for color. I cannot recall her name as the whole situation that took place sent her running and I never heard from her again, and I can understand why.
She was a client who had double process hair blonding and and she wanted to have her hair touched up which required the process of decolorizing her root growth and a color toner after the lightening process was finished. We began our meeting with a consultation and soon afterwards I began my process of applying the freshly mixed lightener to her hair and while I proceeded with the application, I began to notice that the bottle I used with the product mixed inside was getting warm and as I continued the process it seemed to continue to heat up. I just explained it to myself that it was the heat from my hand that was heating it up. I kept moving forward with the touchup when the bottle exploded as if a gun-shot had just been fired.

Evidently the nozzle of the bottle blew off and the impact of its tip slammed my clients head striking it as if she had actually been hit by a bullet. Frightened, she screamed “I’ve Been Shot”. Suddenly the women under the dryers and the staff all began to scream and took off running out of the salon in mass hysteria.
There I stood completely covered in the bleaching product trying to comprehend what the hell had happened and actually thought someone had really shot a bullet into the salon. It took a few minutes to gather my mental thoughts, but as I wiped the bleach off my face and eye’s, I saw the destroyed color bottle laying on the floor in pieces. The whole explosion finally made sense. The contained product had a rapid chemical release which created the heat. Since there was no room to expand inside the bottle it burst the bottle with a force much like a gun except without a bullet.

Everyone was still out in the mall area screaming for the police. I pulled myself together and went outside to explain what had happened and assure everyone that it was ok to come back in and no police was needed. They reluctantly made their way back inside and I set about cleaning the exploded mess that now clung to the walls, ceiling, floors, styling stations and mirrors.
My client was nowhere to be found as she never came back in with the rest and when I asked if anyone had seen her, the only explanation I could obtain was from one of the clients who was previously under the dryer.
She told me that she had seen a woman running out the mall door screaming for help, yet no one obviously came to her rescue as she mysteriously disappeared and never showed back up for another repeated “bullet” touchup.

I recall the fright of the whole situation culminating at the close of the day. I was left to close the shop alone. I kept replaying the days event and accepted the fact that I feared that a real situation could occur and my youthful anxiety of a possible bad scenario led me to the conclusion that it was time to make the change of employment.

I did not want to end up on the other end of an exploded color “bullet” bottle that was truly meant for me. As I finished the daily routine of closing down, I went into the dispensary to turn the lights off and noticed a piece of paper on the floor and picked it up to read.


Laughingly I shook my head as I headed toward the front door knowing now that the whole event could have been avoided. Even though my eyelashes and eyebrows were now a pastel shade of orange from the bleach bomb I held my head high and began to think about my future as my days in Rome were coming to an end and I wanted to leave in one piece. Inside my mind I could feel the winds of change beginning to blow and it would not be long before the breeze’s blew the sand from my eyes and I saw a new horizon coming my way. I knew that the time had come to put in my notice and leave this first job.

The tricky part would be how receptive Mr. Tony would be to letting me leave easily given his demeanor when things did not go his way. I knew that I had needed to move on to my next plateau and staying would have made it feel I was getting to deep into the politics that he worked by. It would take some shrewd planning and a very fast exit to make my getaway complete with no retribution from the “Family”.

I planned a meeting with him to let him know of my decision to leave and of my departure date. When we met he seemed sidetracked by some personal things and was hardly listening to me when I broke the news. I watched him bristle as I told him the date that I was planning to leave and I watched as he ran his fingers thru his black hair as he would do when trying to think of something to say. He sat quietly and told me that he could not see his way clear to let me go just yet as he needed to find a replacement. I readily accepted his appraisal of the situation and did not want to shuffle the deck any further so I agreed to give him time to find someone.

It was at that time he informed me that it would be at his discretion when a replacement would be hired and I was NOT to leave before that was arranged. I arrogantly informed him once again of my planned exit date and he turned a deaf ear to me so I got up to leave and he just sat there staring into space with no other comments. I could feel his resonant stare creep up my spine as I turned and left. It unnerved me and at that exact moment realized that I would never be leaving if he had his way and now I made it a goal to leave sooner than later or face whatever he would lay before me to stop my exiting.

I gathered my courage, went home and began to lay all the pieces out. One by one I planned my exit strategy. On that last Saturday afternoon, I took my last paycheck, cashed it at the bank, and packed the last of my items in my car and planned to leave very early the next morning. I knew that Mr. Tony would find the note in the money bag that he would pick up late that night, and I hoped that he would not read it until Monday when he would make his cash deposit into his personal account. Evidently he must have read it later as he never showed up at my apartment. I purposely left no forwarding address to find me.

It was to become the past and I never wanted to look back, except on occasion to see if someone was following me. No one showed! Luckily I had a friend in Atlanta that would help me with my transition and Interstate 75 would lead me to my new Atlanta home. That highway became my private yellow brick road to a world of unbelievable experiences that would have made Dorothy, Glenda and the whole city of OZ blush. It would also lead me to discover things about myself in ways I never planned on. Daily I would walk through my newly discovered land.

I would be transported into situations that would forever etch my memory, as well as touch my heart. It was to become my reality and created the awareness of people and their intricate lives.

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