Not being my intended set-up for this blog entry I will share with you this: I just entered my office as I passed through my living room where my wife was watching a court room drama. Personally, I find them vile and would rather have my TV stuck on the “How to work your DVR box” channel 24/7 than watch a minute of that swill. The stories were laden with venom, slurs pertaining to one subject’s sexual orientation, and a crowd of onlookers with their mouths agape like baby birds waiting for the next dose of regurgitated poison. I long for the stories beginning in “Once upon a time”.
Yesterday as I was pondering my next installment, I wanted something to do with “reaching out”, expressing our humanity; a connection mind you to where we forego the boundaries we encounter of a financial or physical nature and invest in others using our time or personal skill to receive our greatest rewards.
A fellow blogger ---MARTY from Coffee with Marty posted a beautiful post which set this in motion for me. His story yesterday, told of him going about his daily requirements and encountering another soul, and by his presence and the moment he took to actually look into the eyes of another, and see something “inside reaching out for connection”, well, I will allow you to read. It is when we reach out to others with open hands and open hearts; we are poised to receive our greatest gifts. Thanks Marty for leading by example.
I wish to share with you an experience I had one time, which lingers with me. I hope it always will. I will share my story and hope you all reflect on where you can be a “pebble in the pond”. Send your ripples my friends.
Once upon a time...
I have been blessed to not work Saturdays for many years. In the beauty industry it is quite odd, but aside from here recently, I spent many years as a trainer and my job was done by weeks’ end. Having a young daughter also gave me the luxury of spending quality time with her on Saturday mornings. (This time prior to the birth of my son). We would often do breakfast, and upon occasion, I would capitalize on my craft by taking her into the family salon and paint her nails, do her hair, and make her “princess-y”. Not typical of my male brethren, but I was blessed to have a craft that bonded me deeper with my daughter than many of my other “Dad” friends, and I was aware of the importance. I was teaching her how she deserved to be treated by other men.
After breakfast this morning, I wanted to stop by our local bookstore and check out the magazines. In my career, I have been blessed to be published often in hair and beauty periodicals. I would make it a practice to check the racks monthly to see where my work was that month and how many magazines I may be in. Alexa and I were perusing the shelves; I was thumbing through the magazines, and she was touching everything, her inquisitive toddler hands grabbing what she could.
I noticed to my right a young lady, early to mid teens, going through the hair magazines as well. She was cute in a natural way, slender build, and coarse curly hair, dark chocolate in color. She flipped through the magazines with an apparent exasperation, as if desperately looking for something. Her eyes scanned left then right, and repeatedly sunk to a saddened gaze as she flipped some more. Even though I was not focusing on her, I “felt” I should speak up. I casually asked what she was looking for, she replied that it was her Prom day, and she was looking for hair ideas. I mentioned I was a hairstylist, and special occasion hair was my forte’ and I would be happy to advise. I felt it strange that she waited until the last minute, but I know the fickle nature of teens, and perhaps she was asked last minute, but I remembered, just getting there was the important part; with whom, at times secondary.
I mentioned that looking at bridal magazines often are a better resource for what she sought and I offered a few to her that I knew may help. I flipped in tandem with her, and located a couple designs that may flatter her as well as respect her hair fabric. She lit up upon one design in particular and I concurred it would look great; soft, cute, natural, and with some work, her hair would look awesome. I told her to take it to her hairstylist and they should be able to create it with little fuss.
She asked me a few technical questions about the creation of the look. I asked her if she had a hair appointment as by now it being around 11:00 a.m. on a prom Saturday, appointments were a scarcity. She kept her eyes fixated on the look scanning it intently. She mentioned her aunt was going to take care of her. I asked if her aunt was a stylist. “No,” she replied. I offered her as many laymen’s tips as I could to help her, but her light dimmed; she quietly closed the book, thanked me, and said she doubted if it would happen. She turned to leave.
I stopped her and said, “If you trust I am not some pervert, and you are willing to follow me in your car, I may be able to help you.” I mentioned my name, and that my family had one of the cities’ most notable salons and day spas in the area and that I was the artistic director. I mentioned if she wanted, and was comfortable to follow me, I would do her hair for her. Stunned, she scanned me in my “day-off attire”, my flanking little princess, and I said, “Call your mom, tell her where you are and what you are doing, and follow me up the road.” Off we went in separate vehicles. I noticed she was on the phone with someone chatting feverishly with excited expression.
We arrived at the lobby of the eighteen thousand square foot structure where there were dozens of people in the lobby, many young hopefuls awaiting their hair appointments for their respective proms. The young lady approached the concierge and stated she had an appointment with Tony. She was met with skepticism as I do not work Saturdays, yet they saw me, and greeted her respectfully. I found child care by a technician for my little princess as I escorted my soon-to-be princess back to the styling area.
We finally formally greeted, as I extended my hand, “I am Tony, what is your name?” “Sam,” she coyly responded. The salon had many bustling stylists and beautiful young people scurrying about, and Sam was in her simple jeans and cotton shirt, not looking imposing or important. Meekly, yet politely she sat as she awaited her transformation. Soon we were surrounded by a few of the technicians as I stated, bridal and prom transformations was always my forte’, and since I did not work Saturdays, when I did it was often at $200 per head or more. The staff wondered “who she was.”
She was asked, “How do you know Tony” and was met with the response, “I just met him in a bookstore”. The reactions were worth watching.
After idle banter, pin curls, irons, and a lot of spray, she emerged from under my cape a stunning vision if I do say so myself. Not because my hair style so much as the light within her shone brightly. We never discussed the fee. She realized I was finished and then also realized, it was this point when people pay for their services. She timidly and humbly reached into her jeans pocket and retrieved a crumpled twenty dollar bill. She said, “This is all I have to my name, please accept it.” I grabbed her hand and curled her fingers back over the bill and said, “It’s all on me. Use your money to have a good time tonight.” After a lingering tearful hug around my neck, she bid farewell to me and the surrounding onlookers, and bound out the door. I never saw her again.
A couple years went by, and I was going through my morning mail at work, and I saw a normal white envelope with the address hand-written in blue ink. The note was from Sam. She mentioned that she was now graduating and had just finished a paper for a teacher on someone who had touched her emotionally and deeply. She mentioned it was me. She detailed the depth of what one random act of kindness did for her and her esteem on a very special night. Again she thanked me. Once again the tear appeared in my eye (as well as the one while I write).
I never forgot the power of extending a hand to another. I never forgot that we all have gifts we take for granted, that others consider invaluable. I too hope that should my child ever be in that position, an angel may come down to soothe her as well. I look often to be that pebble in the pond in someone’s life. Reflect yourself if you will, on a time or times, when you have been able to make a difference in someone’s life by sharing of yourself. I would love to hear. Thanks for reading.
And they lived happily ever-after.