The Inherent Good

photo
Alice

There were hair dryers and curling irons hanging from the ceiling. That was my first impression as my client and I entered the front lobby of a high end salon. With her family reunion coming up, she wanted to look her best and after five days of rain, she was more than ready to get out of the house for a bit. She had a week of poor mobility and high levels of pain because of the weather but come hell or high water, she was going to find a new beauty salon and get her hair done.
My client gets like that. Her sheer determination to achieve a goal often overrides what I think is best. Where she saw gorgeously coiffed hair teased to perfection, I saw transfers in the rain, maneuvering a completely unfamiliar environment for both of us and the potential for her feelings to be hurt like they were by her last stylist. One look at her face was all it took. Sigh. Ok. Let’s do this. So off we went! Despite the rain, her pain and the garden variety challenges, we were women on a mission and would not be deterred.
As we entered the salon, carefully maneuvering around subtly placed displays of make-up and hair supplies, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the atmosphere. There was an artsy, creative feel to the place and the front staff was energetic and engaging. It was a world away from my own regular salon, Great Clips (the price is right, so keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best).
After transferring my client into the shampoo chair, I sat down and took it all in. As I sipped on the cucumber infused water that they offered me (which is every bit as gross as it sounds), I noticed how engaged the stylists were. They were genuinely interested in what my client had to say. When her stylist heard that she used to be a cosmetology teacher, she began to ask her questions and discuss the pros and cons of the beauty field.
My client was given the princess treatment. For three hours, she was simply a former stylist who offered valuable insight and a valued customer. They did and said nothing that made her feel awkward or different from anyone else in there and it was all done with authentic enthusiasm. For three hours, my client forgot her pain and embraced being pampered and I found myself moved to tears, which I hastily wiped away lest it ruin my reputation for being a bad ass.
I write a lot about the apathy I see in this world. I write about the challenges and difficulties and need to overcome. I know all about the struggles we as caregivers face on this journey to improve this flawed and broken system and I want badly to help inspire the change in thinking that will enable these lasting improvements. All of that is hard wired in me, but I have to be honest here. It was beautiful to have this moment to write about this week. This simple, pure event that renewed my spirit and reminded me that there are people in all walks of life that are capable of seeing through the diagnosis to the person beneath. Such a simple thing, a trip to a beauty salon full of genuinely kind people, had a profound personal impact on me. In this world where kids are getting shot, the sick and elderly are so often mistreated, refugees are considered terrorist threats, racism is still a thing, people scream online about guns, and he who must not be named may become president, there are more genuinely kind people who look past the obvious than I realized. In my heartfelt zeal to fight apathy in all its forms, I sometimes forget that there are plenty of people who’s small and daily acts of kindness shout volumes about the goodness inherent in all of us. I do those people a disservice by forgetting that everyone isn’t either a hammer or a nail. To all of you quiet heroes out there, I apologize for my shortsightedness and I thank you for the reminder.