October 23, 2006, 12pm: The Group Meeting
Deanna Dillard sat in the reception area of the cramped hair salon where she was employed. The mood was tense. Deanna was surrounded by her closest friends, but the usual chatter and joking that defined the group’s lunch breaks had been extinguished, replaced with whispers and uneasy glances.
To her right was her best friend, Matt Duncan. He had changed a lot since she had first met him at age 17, though the characteristic smile lines around his brown eyes and patient mouth were ever present.
“Quit looking so nervous,” he said, as Deanna tucked a lock of short, curled hair behind her ear. “It’s just a group meeting.”
Deanna was not consoled. Just then their boss came out from her office.
Her boss looked around at the faces all gazing expectantly up at her. “I brought you together today to give you some bad news,” she said as she cleared her throat as if the extra moment of time would somehow make the blow easier to take. She continued, “I have decided that I must focus more of my energy on my vineyard. The winery business is a competitive and risky one, and I feel splitting my time between it and the salon would be too difficult. So, I am closing the salon…next month.”
September 23, 2006, 12:30pm: The Plan
There was a stunned and confused silence as friends stared at each other in vain hope that they had somehow misunderstood.
Then Matt spoke up, “How are we just hearing about this?” Deanna, her mind racing ahead, thought of her two-year-old son and six-year-old daughter who needed support. She noticed the smile lines around Matt’s eyes had smoothed; he had not expected this either.
“I am sorry, Matt, I don’t know what to say. The decision was a difficult one.”
Matt opened his mouth to retort but Deanna nudged him, and his lips pursed.
“This seems sudden,” said Deanna in a negotiating tone. “It seems like you have made up your mind, but surely we could stay open just until we have jobs lined up.”
“Well-” the owner began solemnly.
“No, that makes sense,” agreed Matt, “You may have a plan for the future, but the rest of us — this is all we have.”
The owner tried to protest again, but Deanna forged on.
“Give us until the New Year,” she persisted. “We can make it until then can’t we?” The rest of the group murmured in agreement, and several voiced their own concerns.
In the end, their boss agreed; they would keep their doors open until the New Year.
January 1, 2007, 9am: A New Beginning:
Deanna turned the key. It made a squeaky sound, and the glass door relaxed on its hinges. Matt led the way inside the dark storefront and flipped on the light.
The rising sun peeked through the closed glass door to pierce the dusty air, illuminating the bare interior of the soon-to-be co-owned hair salon.
Matt and Deanna waited restlessly and then, one after another, their old group arrived. There were greetings and laughter; the old spirit of the team had come back.
“Ok, everyone,” Deanna called to the room, they all fell silent. “This is our second chance. We have a long road ahead of us.”
“So, let’s try not to screw it up this time!” Matt interjected. Everyone laughed and cheered in agreement.
March 24, 2017:
The Escape Hair Salon is now filled with life. After trial and error, and a few additions to the salon family, Deanna, with the ever-present aid of Matt, has created a resolute business, teeming with energy.
Deanna greeted her first client of the day; a loyal customer turned good friend. She directed her to a chair before going to retrieve a complimentary beverage.
Everyone in the bustling, well-furnished salon was enjoying conversation and refreshment as they swapped new stories with friends.
On her way back to her customer, Deanna waved cheerily to an elderly couple that had arrived arm in arm and were now getting haircuts side by side.
After discussing a new look for her client, she started up a pleasant conversation. It was one of the best parts of her job. There was something about that salon chair and being that close to someone as you style their hair that makes people want to talk.
It seems that everyone visiting The Escape Hair Salon today leaves feeling better than when they came, and not only about how they look. The sound of water from the shampoo basins, the constant snipping of scissors, the occasional blow dryer and the scent of freshly washed hair now filled the flourishing business; everyday reminders of the dream Deanna Dillard had brought to reality.