Another combination post for you, for obvious reasons. Because this is when Beauty U became a very sad and strange place.
Yes, chickens, it is true.
She told us earlier this week that she had given notice. I’m in a bit of a quandary about how to explain it to you, since the issues revolve heavily around the kind of interpersonal drama that I try to keep off this blog. It just isn’t relevant to our work here, though I’ll admit, it can often occupy a good portion of our 16 hours per week over there. In some ways, it’s like any workplace; egos get in the way, feathers get ruffled, sides get taken. And in some ways, it’s better — Beauty U isn’t any teacher’s full-time job, so you’d hope that would make the strife easier to let go than when you spend 40+ hours a week chained to your cubicle. And there’s a certain level of guaranteed respect from the students, even if colleagues don’t mix.
But in a lot of ways, it’s worse. The pay is bad — Miss Jenny has said it’s significantly less than $20 per hour; I’m guesstimating $15 or under, which only adds up to around $30K per year even if you worked full-time. And the management seems pretty checked out. Since our school is a satellite campus of the main Beauty U, visits from school owner Mr. G are rare. Miss Jenny gave her notice over a week ago and says he has yet to return any of her phone calls, let alone attempt some sort of conflict resolution. Why should he? At that price, in this economy, his workforce can be disposable. Word has it that two new teachers have already been hired to take her place.
Most everyone is saddened by the breaking news. Miss Jenny likes teaching makeup more than the other teachers, so Meg and Stephanie are bummed because that was their main reason for coming to esthetics school. “I just feel like this place isn’t turning out to be what I expected,” says Stephanie. But the senior students tell us Miss Jenny isn’t the first teacher to quit abruptly. “There’s a lot of turnover, especially for the night classes,” Sue says.
Dear readers, don’t be too sad. This won’t be the last you’ll hear of Miss Jenny on Beauty Schooled because I’m hoping we’ll keep in touch.
But she’ll sure be missed around Beauty U.
With Miss Jenny gone, the remaining teachers decide that its time for some changes.
“Laundry needs to be put away in the closet, ladies,” Miss Lisa says, gesturing to a pile of four neatly 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’ll let 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.
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.]