With Miss Jenny gone, things are starting to change at Beauty U.
“Laundry needs to be put away in the closet, ladies,” Miss Lisa says, gesturing to a pile of four folded bath towels behind the waxing station. The senior students grab from there when they need to make the facial beds on the fly between clients. “It can’t just be left out in stacks all over the spa.”
Later, Miss Stacy snags the red metal Klean Kanteen off my desk in the classroom. “You guys, I don’t want to see this kind of thing anymore,” she says. “Enough with the juice and the coffee and the tea. You are only allowed to drink water in here and it should be in a real water bottle.”
“But mine is water,” I say. “There’s only a little bit of vodka in there, honest.”
Everyone laughs, even the teachers. But still: “I don’t care if you have your Klean Kanteen,” Miss Linda says. “But if Miss Susan sees it, she’s going to take it away.”
Miss Susan is the night school director. She doesn’t mess around about school rules. Half an hour later, she summons us all into the classroom. Stephanie is in the middle of giving me a paraffin dip, but Miss Susan needs to talk to us right now, so I pad over in my bare feet, dripping apricot oil, and stand on a towel.
It turns out the issue is us junior students working on clients before we’ve graduated to senior student status. “This has never been allowed to happen before in the history of Beauty U,” Miss Susan says somberly. “It can never happen again and it will never happen again now that I’m aware that it has been happening at all.”
The logic being that if we’re busy working on real clients, we’ll miss what Beauty U calls “theory instruction,” aka reading Milady’s. Which is all well and good, except that we’ve only ever worked on clients when the spa overbooks and a teacher tells us too. In fact, Meg misses half of the lecture because she’s finishing up a facial that Miss Stacy assigned to her earlier that evening. But no more! We all match Miss Susan nod for serious nod.
And finally, as we’re pulling on coats at five minutes to ten: “I don’t want to see coats draped over chairs in the classroom either,” says Miss Lisa. “You should fold them up and put them in your bags. And really, you shouldn’t even have your bags in here. You should put them in the lockers in the hall.”
“If Mr. G sees your bags in the classroom, he’ll grab them all up and take them away,” adds Miss Stacy.
Now lest this all sound like I’m whining: I get that most workplaces and schools have rules on what you can wear and where you can eat. And that they’re often necessary to maintain a professional and hygienic atmosphere. And the business about mastering the curriculum before we’re let loose on real clients makes sense too.
But there’s a lot of talk around beauty schools these days about how the industry has become so much more “professionalized” in recent years. Which means, beauty school is no longer just a place for the Rizzo and Frenchie types who failed typing in high school. We’re supposed to be here to build a career, to go on to work on rock stars and make six figure salaries, if you believe Mr. G.
So I guess I’m just a little stuck on the disconnect between that notion and the reality where it’s okay to confiscate water bottles and pocketbooks from tuition-paying, soon-to-be-professional adults.
[Photo: “Beauty School Drop-Out” on Broadway, via BroadwayWorld. I know, I can’t believe it took me this long to make that reference either.]