Some thoughts on my job and an ambiguous future.
| I've been at my job for thirteen years now. I was young (under thirty) when I got there; now I'm not. I put up a good front, though.
I have two bosses, as if one weren't enough, and they happen to be an ex-husband and wife duo - bad life partners but good business partners. Their business has made them both quite rich, to the extent that even after their divorce, not only did they keep the business where I work, but went on into new business ventures together. Having two bosses actually has its advantages, for there hasn't been one moment during the last thirteen years in which I haven't hated either one or the other of them. But never both of them at the same time. Consequently, though, I have always had an ally in whichever one of them I wasn't hating at that moment. Believe me, when you hate your boss, you need an ally, and it really works out well when your ally is your other boss.
The irony surrounding my job, the nature of my work and the actual place itself, is a constant source of cynical awe to me. I work in a sweatshop, a factory. I work on the assembly line. I am a cog, a decreasingly effective one at that. And as with all parts of machinery when they wear down and break, they need to be replaced. Such is my fate as a cog in this machine. I am so over it.
The irony lies in the façade.
The irony lies in what is manufactured there, in what I do. Our product goes under the deceptively simple name of Beauty. The machine is a salon and my role as a cog there is that of hairdresser. I know what you're thinking: the glamour, the excitement, the drama, the gossip, the FUN! And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the salon where I work doesn't possess all of the elements for a spectacularly juicy screenplay. Indeed, I said it is a machine, but the truth is that it's gone beyond that to the point where it has an energy all its own; a big, ominous energy that is not at all mechanical, but greedy, brutish and savage. Perhaps one has to have worked there for thirteen years to be able to recognize this energy for what it is, for if you were to walk in as a customer, you'd be likely to think it just a busy, crazy hair salon with a lot of different characters working there, which of course, it also is.
I've seen a lot over the years at work. I've seen kids grow up, spouses cheating, people turn gay (and sometimes switch back), people go to prison (and then get out), births, deaths, deception, betrayal, people and love, come and gone. And often I've felt I was missing the boat by not trying to capitalize on the glitz and scandal available to me at my job every day because I feel the need, rather, to explore the effects of it all on myself. I've heard thousands of stories over the years; surely as a writer, this could be a goldmine for me too. Perhaps, somebody else besides my two bosses could profit from this big, ugly machine, which would certainly add a pleasantly ironic spin to the whole situation. I'm a fool not to exploit this aspect of my job, I tell myself, I know I can do it; I have plenty of material and characters to work with right at my fingertips! But I'm not inspired. In fact, my job produces the exact opposite effect in me. To say that it is uninspiring is not enough, because it actually, actively sucks, extracts whatever small bit of energy and inspiration is left in me, leaving me dry, wrung-out. Pretty ironic, considering what I'm supposed to be doing there.
I am a hairdresser. I create beauty. It is my job. I can make or break someone. I hold people's destiny in my hands. Or so they tell me. I tell them they're silly. I tell them, as much as I can without actually saying it, that I can make their hair look exquisite, fanfuckingtastic, exactly like Meg Ryan's or Jennifer Aniston's or whoever's hair it is that day. But I can't make them love themselves; and I can't make them beautiful on the inside, which is what they're really after. It's ironic, the way they go about trying to feel beautiful on the inside, by focusing on the outside. They come to me, and in the process of creating outside beauty, I somehow become responsible for the inside beauty too because they're so horribly intertwined. I am responsible for the way people feel about themselves. Or so they tell me. I don't accept the responsibility. I do not hold any one else responsible for the way I feel. It seems unreasonable that I should have to shoulder such burdens for others, but it is my job.
My days as a hairdresser are numbered. I don't know what I'll do next, something else. "Why are you studying English," my clients ask me, "what are you going to do with an BA in English?" I can see it all over their faces, even if they don't say it. "You'll never make any money with that."
I know, but at least I'll be doing something else, something I have a passion for, or something that uses my mind, or something I feel is worthwhile. Something that makes me feel beautiful on the inside.