Ian Marc Smith, owner of Imagine Salon & Spa in Bedford, wrote the following article after the passing of James Matatall, his client’s son. This loss, along with many others in recent weeks, has moved Ian in a way, that he needed to write his thoughts down. Please share:
December 25, 2011
I’m ‘just’ a hairdresser
When I was a young man, there had always been a stigma that surrounded your career choices. You could be a policeman, a teacher, a doctor or a lawyer, but to choose a career as a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter or a hairdresser, wasn’t supposed to be your first option, at least in my family.
As the years went on, and life’s circumstances slowly started to unfold, it became clear to me that my life path had led me to becoming exactly what I was told I shouldn’t be, a hairdresser. At first, I figured this will be a breeze, little did I know, I had no real idea of what I was signing up for.
Like many of the choices we make in life, we are often unaware of what lies behind closed doors until we open them. The fear of what is to come, for me, is met time and time again with the thought, “I’m glad I opened that door and took a leap of faith.” Whatever the outcome of opening that door, came a general knowledge and fulfillment, allowing me to reflect on the decision to open the door and know that it’s better to take a chance on something good, than never knowing at all.
Many years have passed since that I decided to become a hairdresser, and more importantly, many more doors have been opened. Still to some, I’m just a hairdresser, but for me, I am blessed. To be a hairdresser has allowed me to experience a life that has evolved into a conviction of pride, happiness and completion as a man. I have been blessed with a wife of 27 years, three beautiful children, many friends and a career that could make any policeman, teacher, doctor or a lawyer envious.
Each morning when I awake, I delve into my daily routine of waiting for my morning newspaper, The Chronicle Herald, pouring a fresh cup of coffee and giving myself a little time to peruse and reflect on the day’s headlines.
In recent weeks it’s not just the day’s headlines that I’ve been reflecting on. Unfortunately, it’s been on many of the sadder conversations I have with my clients and colleagues. I’ve been incredibly touched and saddened by the losses of some of our industry peers, and clients’ loved ones.
My years as a hairdresser have afforded me the ability to listen to many memories and stories and I have felt privileged as I’ve been an ear for my clients’ and customers’. For me, my clients have become an intricate part of my life, and also a part of my daily routine. Yet, when I turn the pages of my morning newspaper and come to the obituaries, it’s at that moment, that I look over the names with a glance, always in fear of seeing a name that I recognize.
In recent days, there have been a few losses that have moved me. However, I’ve increasingly become frustrated in not knowing what to say or do. Sure, anyone can give an empathetic look, smile, comment of understanding or a sympathetic reply that makes him or her feel like they can make a difference. Yet knowing that when you sit in my chair, however long that may be for, I will be there for you, whether it is to listen, make you feel beautiful or simply give you time to sit and relax, is the way I know that I can make a difference.
Being your hairdresser, I get to celebrate milestones in your life, your high school, college or university graduation, your wedding day, and your first child. Even though, I’m just your hairdresser, I also share an illness with your loved ones, and the pain of a loss of a family member or close friend. Even though, I’m just your hairdresser, I silently grieve several times a day, each week and multiple times a month with many clients that visit our salon on a regular basis.
So I guess I’m not ‘JUST’ a hairdresser; I’m a part of you, your daily grooming ritual, caring about how you look before every major milestone in your life. I laugh with you, I hurt for you, and I want you to know, I care. I’m blessed to have you as a part of my life and am so fortunate to have chosen a career that affords me to be thankful every day I come to work.
I look forward to tomorrow’s conversation.