Sunday: Shocked by a hairdresser
I realize that when you read the above title, you might be worried that a) I was getting a haircut and the hairdresser, ignoring the warning labels, simultaneously stuck the hairdryer in the sink whilst grabbing my arm, thus giving both of us a nasty jolt or b) that the haircut went out of control and I ended up with a mohawk. Neither is true—my hair looks pretty much like it always does, and not like a troll doll OR Johnny Rotten. Here’s what actually happened:
The back of my hair was looking a little scruffy. I keep it cut fairly close to the back of my neck, and I don’t like seeing little wisps sticking out the side. It was getting too long though, so I called my usual awesome hairdresser, Emily, but she’s SO good that you have to book her well in advance. Normally, she can fit me in for a neck trim, but she was jammed with appointments. So I said to her, “Is it OK if I just go to one of those First Choice places?” because why WOULDN’T I ask permission from my hairdresser to go somewhere else? I know a lot of you totally get that. She was very understanding, so off I went to the local plaza.
When I pulled up, things looked pretty quiet. There were a couple of guys getting clippered, and I thought I might have to wait for a while, but then another woman, whose nametag read “Cathy” (well, it actually didn’t, but I don’t want to use her real name) came out of the back. She took my name and led me to her chair. I explained what I wanted. She said, “No problem , hun,” and started spraying water on me. Then she stopped and looked perplexed. “I guess I need my scissors,” she said, looking around. I said nothing, because I’ve learned that, given enough time, most people can figure things like that out for themselves. In truth, I saw a pair of scissors in her Barbicide container, but I just REALLY wanted to know how long it would take her. “Oh, there they are!” she laughed, 36.6 seconds later.
She started snipping away, and seemed to be doing a passable job. Behind us, a man was getting a buzzcut and chatting with HIS stylist, whom he seemed to know. “Where are you going after?” she asked him.
“Downtown for the kegtapping,” he said. “Justin’s going to be there.”
“Cool,” she replied. “I wish I could go, but I have more appointments this afternoon.”
“I wish I could go,” I said to MY hairdresser. “I’d love to see Justin.”
“Justin who?” she answered.
I was a little taken aback, because it had been on the local news, but I said, “Justin Trudeau. He’s in town to ceremoniously “tap the keg” for Oktoberfest.”
“Oh,” she said. “I don’t know who that is. Is he famous or something?”
“Um,” I paused. “He’s the Prime Minister.”
“What, like OUR Prime Minister? Sorry, I don’t really follow politics.” Then she laughed. Not in a “just kidding” way, but in a slightly embarrassed kind of way.
“Who does, right?” I answered. “But he’s no Donald Trump, I can tell you that.”
At which point, she says, “I know! That guy’s crazy!! Did you hear what he did yesterday?”
So I was shocked, as I said at the beginning. But then I thought it made sense for two reasons. First, she “doesn’t follow politics” and what’s happening with the Trump campaign isn’t really politics—it’s a circus side show. Last week, I referred to Trump’s clown car, but then I saw on TV that he actually has a train. It’s called the “Trump Train” and the conductors are woman in pink shirts who yell, “Choo Choo, Trump Train, Choo Choo Trump Train.” They might think it’s cute, but they’re really setting themselves up for “derailing” jokes. Personally, I’d rather ride Via Business Class, and you know how I feel about THAT. Second, Canadians are blessed with a political leader in Trudeau who is and has been scandal-free, so no wonder he’s not more prevalent in the news. Because from what I’ve seen, the only way to catch the attention of the Canadian media these days is to say outrageous things and look like a Cheeto. So no wonder my poor hairdresser had no clue who Justin is—he’s actually focused on policy, both domestic and foreign, which doesn’t get him ANY traction with the media here, or anywhere else. On the other hand, our national affiliates are absolutely obsessed with Trump, reporting on his every ridiculous move, his most recent stupid statement. This morning, for example, he’s claiming the election is rigged, and that Hillary was on drugs during the last debate. “OMG,” everyone says, and rolls their eyes. “What will he do next?!” (That’s in Canada. Down in the States, half the population is screaming, “We knew it!! Hillary’s a dope fiend!!). At any rate, I’m happy that our Justin, like all truly competent politicians, keeps quietly plugging away, or tapping away, as the case may be. And I’ll bet HIS hairdresser knows who he is.
(Just for the record, this is a criticism of the Canadian media, NOT the hairdressing profession. In fact, my regular stylist, Emily (which IS her real name and you should totally go to her), is 22 years old, owns her own business, and is extremely well-informed about world issues. She’s also very well-read, and likes to discuss books while she’s wrapping my hair in foil.)
Friday: Fire Drill fun
On Thursday, I was in the elevator and two guys got on. “Don’t forget about the fire drill tomorrow,” one of them said to the other.
“Oh,” I said. “Is it in the morning or afternoon?”
“Afternoon,” he answered. “Stay close to your coat—it’s supposed to be chilly.”
So that was a great heads-up, except that I almost immediately forgot about it until the next afternoon, when suddenly, the fire alarm went off. Everyone looked around nonchalantly, but then an announcement came over the PA system: “A fire alarm has been activated on Parking Level 2. The fire department has been dispatched. Exit the building immediately.” Then people started to get a little panicky. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I heard two guys talking about a drill yesterday in the elevator. I’m sure the announcement is just a trick or something.” But that didn’t seem to make people feel better, and then everyone started walking quickly towards the exit. Notice that I said “exit” singular, and not “exits” plural. Because, even though my office is in an 18-story building, there’s only ONE way out. Down the stairs. Along with EVERYONE ELSE who works in the building. And after meandering slowly down numerous double flights of stairs in a huge crowd of people I didn’t know, I commented to my co-worker, “This is crazy. If there was a real fire, we’d all be in serious trouble.” She replied, “Why the hell didn’t I change out of these heels?” which was a completely legit question, since our secret agency meeting place was on a side street two city blocks away. I suppose that’s in an attempt to disguise our identities, you know, like we’re just a group of tourists who happened to stop for a chat behind Loblaw’s. Nothing to see here; just move along. Ignore the man carrying the encrypted laptop. But then things got a little worrisome. Not because of the fire—at this point it became very clear that it was, in fact, a drill—but because there was no sign of any firetrucks. A ripple of dissatisfaction ran through the crowd.
“Where are the firefighters? We were promised firefighters!”
“If I had to walk down 15 flights of stairs, there should at least be firefighters!”
“What’s going on? Does anyone hear sirens?”
“This is ridiculous! You can’t just lie about calling the fire department! It’s not fair!”
And this wasn’t just the women. Men like firetrucks too, you know. But after a little while, we were all distracted by our Head of Human Resources, a very dapper guy who was now wearing not only his suit and tie, but a rather bold red ballcap with the words, “Fire Marshall” on it. We flocked to him to have our names checked off (to ensure none of us had perished in the fake fire?) and went back to the building. The elevators were back in service. 4 elevators for an eighteen-story building. It took a little while, but we finally all squeezed on at the ground floor, cheering and laughing. Then the elevator suddenly stopped at the sixth floor. We were all puzzled until the doors opened:
“Marcel!!” we all cheered. There was Marcel, one of our French co-workers, with a huge grin on his face. “I t’ought ze best t’ing would be to go up ze stairs partway. And ‘ere you are!” With that, we welcomed him aboard and went back to work.
This might seem inconsequential or anti-climactic, but I tell this story to illustrate a point. That, given the state of some parts of the world right now, I am always grateful when the worst DOESN’T happen, when it’s a drill and not a tragedy, when the door opens and it’s a friend, when I get to spend time with people who see the humour in things, and when “another day at the office” is a good day. Even if there weren’t any firefighters.