Hands up, all those people who thought it was funny when your Ever-Lovin' Chimpster got a job at a Hairdressers? One, two, some, many - is that two people at the back or one person with both hands up? What? Oh, that's not your hand... You're very kind sir, but I'm not that way inclined.
OK, keep your hands up if you thought was even funnier when I found out that I had to work one day a year in an actual salon, with real people, who have actual hair?
And keep them up if you thought this was even funnier when you remembered I am, for all intents and purposes, bald?
Now, take a look around at all the people who still have their hands up, don't forget the one guy standing behind the pot-plant in the corner, pretending to be a... a... What the hell are you doing to that Sturgeon? put it down! No, not there!, nobody's going to want that now are they, Where the hell did you get a wheelbarrow full of butterscotch Angel Delight? - Anyway, I digress, none of you are getting Christmas cards this year, you people who put your hands down at any point? Neither are you. It's nothing personal, I'm just not sending cards this year, I'm skint.
Back to the story - I called the Salon in Derby yesterday to announce that I would be arriving first thing in the morning to 'Do my thang!' You could hear the faint smell of panic and tightening of sphincters all the way in Coventry. I put the phone down and made inappropriate jokes about my minimal amount of power over people who didn't know who I was. Then I heard a funny noise.
'What was that?'
'That noise - The Beeep-Beep noise?'
'You've had a text on your BlackBerry'
'Never had a text before?'
'Not on my work phone, no.'
So feeling a little stupid, I read the text, it said: [Do you like Black or White coffee?] Now, you have to admit that this a strange first text for anyone to recieve. I assumed that it was from the salon, and made a mental note to pick up some milk on my way in, nothing like being prepared. Then, again, Beeep-Beep! Knowing now what this noise signified, I checked my phone, it said: [Do you like puppies?] - Never has my Flabber been more Ghasted! (c) Frankie Howerd 1973. At this point, my colleague over the other side of the office dissolved into fits of giggles, it turns out that he had remote controlled the salon's computer, and got it to send me the texts. Touche Monsieur, Touche!
So I arrived at the salon at the crack of 9:30(ish) to be told that the manager had rang in sick, and the poor stylist had no real idea what was going on.
'I'm here to help you guys out, I can do whatever you need me to'
'You're not here to spy on us and report back on all the things that we're doing wrong?'
Did I mention that I'm a terrible liar? 'No..?' I squealed, like a constipated gecko. I think there was a chance that she may have seen through my complex web of subterfuge and deceit.
'Would you like me to, erm, clean something?'
'OK, how about those shelves?'
'All those? But there must be all of about, oh, I don't know, eight of them or something'
If I'm honest, the next three hours, flew past pretty quicky, and by the time I'd finished the first shelf I had gained the trust, and if I'm honest, grudging admiration of the entire staff, of one person... With my lightning powers of calculation, I figured that the other seven shelves would take me twenty-one hours. I am not a born shelf cleanerer it seems. I decided that my further efforts should be concentrated in a purely managerial / audit capacity. I weighed up the options, balanced what I knew about the salon against what I needed to know, turned to the poor stylist that I had been torturing with my very presence and said'
'I'm going for lunch'
Lunch was a pretty grown up affair consisting of a litre of Chocolate milkshake and a slice of pizza, that took me exactly the one hour to consume *cough*
On my return to the salon, things were getting busy, real people were having real treatments done to them by qualified people who seemed to actually know what they were doing, I felt very much out of my depth.
'I'm going to pop down to the other salon, and see what I can do down there'
'Uh-huh,' said the stylist. In fairness, I could have said 'I'm going to take this tin of beans and see how long it takes me to make it boil by just staring dissapprovingly at it.' And she would have cared exactly as much.
Down I went, into a similar situation again, Different salon, different stylist, same air of 'I know you're trying to help, but will you just get out of my way and let me do what I'm good at.'
Luckily, we have three salons in Derby, so I went to the third. Here at least, I made an impact. Oh yes... Impact.
If you were to think of the four words guaranteed to chill the blood of the average person, what would they be?
You're going to die?
I'm afraid it's positive?
Yes it is loaded?
Why should I care?
I feel that I found four words that trumped all of these today... 'I'm from Head Office' - It struck fear into the very entrails of the assembled staff, brushes were dropped, jaws hit floors, customers chairs spun around uncontrollably making the Zoidberg 'Whoop-whoop-whoop' noise, all hell was, quite literally, let loose.
Do you remember the seagulls from Finding Nemo? - Instead of 'Mine!' the cry that went up from the assembled staff was 'You want the Manager!' So the manager was found, I explained who I was, we all had a great laugh as we hosed the urine out of the salon and I completed my audit, such as it was.
The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful, I did a bit of shopping and started my weekend an hour or so earlier than usual.
All in all, not a complete waste of a day.
(Please note, there is a significant amount of artistic license used in this dramatisation, everyone I met today was great and I would have no problem spending an entire day cleaning a shelf for them sometime in the future - Whether any of them feel the same way, well you'd have to ask them)