Combs, Not Clippers
She’d been cutting and styling hair for the past four years now. She was sure she’d seen everything her profession had to offer, but then she met her.
She welcomed her into the salon with a smile, seeing another mess of hair waiting for her to conquer. But as she began listening to her story, she realized she might’ve been biting more than she could chew.
Hobbies And Careers
Maria started working as a hairdresser well before she finished high school. She’d always had a knack for making people smile with their looks, and with hairdressing, she could do just that.
She started helping out at her aunt’s salon for a quick buck in her senior year. Going to college, she knew she wanted to focus on hairdressing. She had no idea how much impact it would have on her life.
Moving Up The Ranks
Two years later, Maria found employment as a hairstylist in her city. Her ultimate dream was to open her salon where she could explore all that hairdressing had to offer.
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She’d work for four years, seeing all the good and bad that came with her profession. She was confident she’d seen it all until that fateful Saturday morning.
A Saturday Like No Other
That Saturday was a busy one for Maria and her colleagues. The salon was packed, with each stylist booked throughout the weekend.
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But as Maria was finishing up on one of her regulars, she noticed a teenage girl peeking through the windows. She paid her no mind, given many people peeped in to see what was happening inside the salon. But what the girl did made Maria set aside her comb.
Her Interest Is Piqued
The girl, dressed in a pair of grey sweats and an oversized hoody, stepped into the salon. She ran her blue eyes across the crowd, her hood over her head and her fingers fidgeting by her sides.
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Maria could tell she was nervous. She set her clippers aside and faced her with a smile. But the girl turned around and stormed out of the shop.
She Runs After Her
“Excuse me, Lucy,” Maria apologized to her client and weaved through the busy salon into the street. “Hey!” she called out. The girl was almost turning a corner. “Come back,” Maria said.
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The girl stopped, turning around. There was apparent fear in her eyes, and her lips trembled. She looked away from Maria. “Please come back,” Maria repeated, her lips curling again. She needed to know if the girl was alright.
“What’s your name?” Maria asked when the girl walked back to her. The girl mumbled her name, and Maria shared hers. “D’you want to come in?” she asked. “We have milkshakes and great stories.”
Although the girl nodded and entered the shop, Maria could tell she was still uneasy. She escorted her through the many chairs, clients, and stylists. When the girl lowered her hood, Maria knew why she’d run away.
A Heartbreaking Request
“Cut it all,” the girl said as Maria stared at her hair. It was matted and messy, with thick blobs that hadn’t seen a comb in a long while. “Why d’you want me to cut it?” Maria asked, already seeing that she’d have to clear her schedule for the rest of the day.
“Because it’s worthless,” said the girl. “I’m worthless.” Her eyes grew wet with tears, “Please cut it all.”
“Let’s take it slow,” Maria said soothingly. “We’ll start with a comb first, really work through the motions.” She broke a sweet smile, “We’ll use the clippers as a last resort, okay?”
The girl looked at her quizzically but nodded. “Why do you care?” she asked. What she said next made Maria’s heart rip into two.
Why Do You Care?
“Nobody ever cares,” the girl shared. She told Maria her life story, explaining how her mom passed away a few months past. She’d been falling apart ever since, drowning in the darkness that was seemingly ever-present in her life.
There were times she felt so down, neglected, and worthless that she couldn’t even brush her hair. But why did she wish to cut it?
“School’s around the corner,” said the girl. She’d need a new photo for the semester, and she couldn’t deal with the pain of combing her hair all out.
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Listening to her story broke Maria’s heart. She cleared her entire weekend, squeezing in her clients to some colleagues. She sat with the girl throughout the day, powering through hours of combing and cleaning. Could she stop her from cutting her locks?
A Saturday Well Spent
As the day ended, Maria turned the girl around in the mirror. They’d reduced what was once a mass of matted curls into a more manageable lump of tangled hair.
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The girl smiled, her first smile of the day. But Maria knew they still had more work to do. She smiled back and asked the girl if she could return the next day.
Maria rarely opened the salon on Sunday mornings, but this was a special occasion. She wasn’t sure the girl would show up, but as she pushed the door open, she saw her reflection behind her.
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“Come in!” she chirped, ushering the girl into the salon. The girl dressed differently than the previous day. She’d swapped her sweatpants and hoody for a flowing blue dress, and her dark hair was free. Did she seem happier? Maria would find out.
They Spend Another Day Together
Maria picked up where she left with the girl’s hair. She asked her what length she was comfortable with and her preferred styles.
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Although the girl was reluctant to talk sometimes, Maria thought she was exciting and lovely to talk to. They spent hours together. Maria found her to be delightful and was enjoying the work until she noticed a problem.
A New Challenge
While most of the huge blobs and matted portions of her hair had been fixed, there was still a lot of damage near the scalp. Maria frowned as she wondered how to proceed.
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They had made so much progress that Maria worried that the girl might slip back into her sadness and feel hopeless again if she mentioned it. She came up with a plan instead.
Maria knew she had to buy some time to make sure she could come up with a better solution. If she stared at the girl’s head for too long without working, she might get suspicious.
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Maria’s mind raced as she tried to think of ways to prolong the situation while she could work out what to do. Her fear was that if she couldn’t find a suitable fix, she’d end up having to resort to cutting after all.
The Best Approach
Maria made been successful in the hairstyling profession because she was talented. However, with Maria, her customers knew she rendered another service that was priceless.
With her older clients, Maria always felt comfortable and her added services flowed naturally. However, the girl’s issues and the weight she carried made it a tricky situation to navigate.
Maria knew that if she could get the girl to open up a little more, she could look for common ground with her. She desperately wanted to help her more.
She had proven easily scared of before so Maria knew she’d have to approach with caution. She took a deep breath and began asking her some questions to see how it went.
Maria was itching to learn more about her. She obviously carried around a lot on her shoulders, especially for someone so young.
It pained Maria to know that the poor girl was going through so much. It was a lot to take for anyone in her position. However, Maria also had a personal reason for wanting to help her.
Life hadn’t been easy for Maria either. She had grown up the hard way. With very little money, she’d grown up needing to help her mom pay the bills for herself and 3 siblings.
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Leaving school at such a young age was a difficult choice. Maria had once had dreams and ambitions but was forced to put them aside for her family. Then, things got even harder.
Maria’s mother had struggled through life. She faced obstacles throughout her life. When she was just 22, Maria’s father abandoned her and the children.
Her mom had found a way to keep the family aloat, often working 3 jobs to make ends meet. Life seemed to just be turning a corner for the family but then tragedy struck. Maria was only 17 when her mom got sick.
Losing her mom to illness at such a young age was the most difficult thing Maria had ever endured. It was many years ago, but she still felt the pain daily.
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Maria realized now why she had felt an instant connection to the girl. As she stared at the damaged roots of her hair, she knew she had to help her somehow.
Getting To Work
Maria changed tact at that moment. Rather than asking the girl to open up and risk her feeling uncomfortable, Maria decided to speak about her past instead.
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While the girl was occupied hearing about Maria’s own tragic childhood, Maria used this time to figure out a solution for her hair. As she spoke, an idea soon came to her.
A Tricky Solution
Maria realized that the last clumps of matted hair were too small and delicate to extract without hurting the girl. However, if left that way, they could also grow out and mess up her hair again.
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Maria realized that if she could delicately apply a relaxer treatment to those portions, it would untangle the hair for her. It wouldn’t be easy, though.
Getting To Work
Maria knew that relaxers contained harmful chemicals. They weren’t meant to be applied directly to the scalp so she’d have to be extremely careful.
Getting together some tools of her trade, she mixed some of the treatments and began carefully applying them to the affected areas. It was a stressful situation.
Maria kept the girl engaged in conversation as she executed her plan with the delicacy of a surgeon. Luckily, being so good at what she did, Maria could work in the relaxer without getting any of it on the girl’s scalp.
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With bated breath, she allowed it to settle and waited. At last, she saw it beginning to work. She turned the girl toward her and smiled as she told her the news.
The relaxer worked a treat and had automatically un-matted the portions of her hair that would have been too tricky to do by hand. Amazingly, after the state of her hair when she first came in, it was now completely transformed from roots to tips.
Maria told her the good news. Unexpectedly, the girl’s eyes welled up, and she began crying. Maria expected her to be happy and had no idea what was wrong.
A New Friend
When the girl calmed down and explained, Maria was relieved. They were tears of happiness as the girl said how grateful she was. No one had ever shown her this much kindness before.
Maria was ecstatic. She finished the last bit of the marathon job. Now that the girl’s hair was beautiful and manageable again, all that was left was the styling. When she was done, the girl gasped with shock.
A New Beginning
Maria brought the girl a mirror. She’d trimmed the hair above the girl’s shoulders, curled the ends, and added slight shades of sandy brown to compliment the girl’s golden bronze color.
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The girl ran a hand against her hair, sifting through the soft curls. Her lips curved ever so slightly, her eyes budding with tears. She looked up at Maria, “I’ll actually smile for my school’s pictures,” she said. “You made me feel like me again.”
A Happy Ending
In the end, Maria managed to get the girl’s hair back to normal and gave her a free makeover too. Brimming with renewed confidence now, she was the star of picture day. After hearing Maria’s story, she and the girl became close friends.
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Maria spoke to her boss, and they allowed her to come to the salon after school to work as an apprentice stylist. After all, she had lost in life; her makeover ended up giving her new hair and a newfound hope to change her life.