Haz el bien, y no mires a quién. -Spanish Proverb

a pain in the mane


I was a Groupon virgin until last week, when I decided it was time to “get my group on” with this deal:

Translation: for just 25€ (a 130€ value), I could get my hair colored, cut and styled….PLUS, I could choose from one of three “special treatments,” and for fun they were throwing in a cranial massage and a shine treatment finish. Sign me UP!

I bought the Groupon and walked the few blocks from my apartment to the salon to make my appointment. It was a small place–just 3 hair styling “stations” and two stylists working. I walked in, told them I’d bought a salon package on Groupon and asked if I could make an appointment for the next day, Saturday. ¿Sí, muy bien. A las 10:00 o 11:00?”  I took the 11:00 appointment and was on my way, skipping along happily at the thought of the steal of a deal I had just scored.

I woke up excited for the day on Saturday, reviewed my Spanish haircut vocabulary (bangs, layers, blend, trim) over breakfast and headed out the door. When I got to the salon, I was immediately taken aback by the number of women inside. There were the same two stylists that had been there when I made the appointment, but now about five additional women were there as well. “Surely, some of them must work here,” I thought. I stood there shaking out my umbrella and wondering if anyone was going to acknowledge my presence. Nope. I figured any minute one of the stylists would approach me to get my name and “check me in” for my appointment in some way, as is standard in every salon I’ve ever been to. Nope. 3 minutes. I’m quickly realizing that the only two people doing any sort of work are the two ladies I saw yesterday. There’s another older lady aimlessly pacing to and fro between them, but everyone else in this joint is a client. Ooooh boy.

5 minutes. One of the stylists looks up from her work and motions to the only empty chair in the joint, telling me to sit. The chair she has deemed as mine is an abandoned stylist station chair that sits opposite the three still-in-use stations, still bolted to the floor, facing a large mirror. The table and drawers have been removed, so now it is just a chair, off by itself, facing a mirror. I am now sitting in a hairdresser chair, looking at myself in a mirror. Yesss.

10 minutes. Ok, I’m annoyed, but this was a really good deal. I’m gonna stick it out. Gathering from many experiences I’ve had as a retail customer in this country, I don’t even think the term “customer service” exists. I just need to keep that in mind. I become complacent and read the last 18 hours of posts on my Twitter feed.

20 minutes. I notice the older pacing lady is now assisting with washes. I wonder if she’s one of the stylist’s mothers. I figure this is a family business. I assume the staircase at the back of the salon leads to their home flat. I find this very European and cute.

30 minutes. I realize the two sylists are cycling clients through a haphazard (albeit relatively efficient) chain of highlights, rinse/treatment, cut and dry/style: starting one thing on one client while the other waits for the next stage to be complete, and so on. I think about how, “where I come from,” you have a stylist to yourself for the 2 hours or so of your cut/color/style. I wonder what my old stylist did during the downtime. I consider that this crazy hair-styling assembly line may actually be a better system.

40 minutes. The elder, pacing, hair-washing woman approaches me-. “Sweet, my turn!” I think to myself. She doesn’t even look at me. Instead, she turns to a small crockpot-looking device filled with green goo on the table next to me. I didn’t even notice it until now. She walks up to the mirror directly in front of my chair, stirs the green go with a wooden stick, scoops some out, and slaps it on her face. Without a flinch, she rips it off, ridding her face of any lady ‘stache that may have been. This is happening 2 feet in front of me. Our legs are touching. I wonder if she’s crazy. No one else in the salon seems to be fazed by her public display of her personal hygiene routine. Am I just that uptight?

50 minutes. Lady Beard has finished her facial wax self-treatment. I frantically refresh my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds in desperation for news from “normal” outside world.

60 minutes. Ok. That’s it. I said I’d only wait an hour. Gotta draw the line somewhere….I mean, I had an appointment, after all! It was an hour ago! I prepare my “storming out speech.”

70 minutes. …but what good is storming out going to do? They’re not really concerned about “bad reviews” in Spain, and they’re sure as shiz not gonna care if some American girl gets her brugas in a bundle over waiting an hour for their services. If I leave, I’m going to have to try to get a refund from Groupon AND go back to the drawing board on getting my hair done.

80 minutes. It’s 12:20pm. Some girls with noon appointments swing by and ask how long it will be until the stylists are ready. The stylists tell them about 30 minutes. They smile and say they’re going to run to the market and be back later.  NOOOO PROBLEMA :-D!!! So…are appointment times just a suggestion? Like…a suggestion of when you should wake up in order to make it to the salon an hour or so AFTER your actual appointment time? Cuz I missed that memo. Maybe this is something that should be included in Spanish culture classes, you know, right along with the info about the Spanish siesta and the dos besos (two kisses) greeting custom. I have a Spanish minor, after all. I should be in on these things.

90 minutes. That’s it. This is stupid. I’m hungry. I’m leaving. In five minutes.

95 minutes. One of the stylists approaches me, identifies me as “The Groupon one” and leads me to her chair. I surrender and hope for the best.

The appointment itself went pretty smoothly. They have to know what they’re doing with the way they run that place. It may be a little bit, uh…below my standard of “normal,” but somehow they make it all work.

And at the end of the day, like they say, “it’s just hair!”

post-salon: touched-up highlights, no more split ends, significantly lower blood pressure


Author: meggr

American expat in Spain. tech enthusiast. fitness fanatic. eclectic musicophile. wine and coffee aficionado.

3 thoughts on “a pain in the mane

  1. ok…I know I’m your Mom and therefore perhaps slightly prejudice; but…THIS BLOG IS HILARIOUS and of stand-up comedy level!

  2. DIOS MIO. I love this. Reminds me of my haircut experiences in Spain except that mine were pleasant. The old ladies loved me. I will be the talk of the salon for decades.

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