This past Sunday I accompanied my mom to a local hair salon.
It’s always challenging when it comes to an Asian’s hairdo. Our hair quality is different from that of a Caucasian, it’s straight and thicker and more coarse. Plus the different facial bone structures, a slick and shiny hairstyle on a Caucasian’s head could turn out to be a tea-cup upside down on an Asian. Hair takes some time to grow back, the aftermath of a tea-cup hairdo could be immense. Been there, done that. So every time when I need a haircut, my first strategy is to drive one hour and a half to Bloomington, there is a good Japanese stylist over there. If I don’t have that much time, I will procrastinate the haircut to my next trip back to China.
This time, for my mom, both strategies won’t work as she is not willing to spend three hours on the road for a haircut, and I cannot procrastinate since her birthday is coming. So I decided to bring her to the local salon cross the street. Secretly I take it as an adventure.
When we stepped into the salon, there were two stylists working with four to five customers waiting. One of the two is a girl in her late 20s with broad and genuine smile. Her name is Heather, who guided my mom to the washing sink, I came along as the interpreter.
Heather adjusted the water temperature a few times, kept asking my mom, “is it too hot? How about now, is it too cold?” till my non-English speaking mom bursted out “It is good.” And we all laughed.
While Heather is wrapping rolls skillfully on my Mom’s hair, we chatted about the booming economy of recent years.
Heather recalled when she started working in 2008, “the business is really slow, people simply couldn’t afford it. Now it’s getting much better.” I was so close to having been laid off in 2008, so we sighed together over the past misery.
Heather’s English is very articulate, not with thick accents sometimes a local person does, “that’s because my husband is half Mexican and I talk with my mother-in-law, so I got some experience of speaking with foreigners!” I totally agree with her.
While my mom waited for the solution on her hair to react, Heather did a couple of more haircuts, including a little Indian girl who was crying her eyes out during the cutting, but Heather worked very gentle and swift on her hair while kept cooing to calm her down. When Heather was not cutting, she either swept the floor or worked on the computer registry, never sat down for a minute. Her co-worker worked same hard on several others, including a few Americans, a Mexican and one quiet Japenese boy. I just realized Seymour has become so international and by now I am convinced these two stylists have hands-on experience to handle Asian’s hair.
At the end, it turned out my mom really liked the hairstyle Heather did for her. An adventure came to a peaceful end. I stepped out of the salon with the heart swelled with gratitude and new appreciation of Seymour, a little town in the middle of a huge cornfield.
Immigrants are the thermometer of the local economy and well being of all aspects of life. We came a long way to a country for a better life than our home country.
Immigrants and local people are working hard, and altogether we will make the United States a greater country.
Song Li is a local resident and a member of Seymour Toastmasters Club. Send comments to [email protected].