It was Tuesday morning, or pensioner perm day, as Lucy the salon manager liked to call it. It had been raining nonstop, as usual though this didn’t deter the regulars from coming in for their once-a-week shampoo and set. Come rain or hail, nothing would get in the way of the twenty percent off they enjoyed on Tuesdays.
Despite this, I often found myself praying in vain that just once she wouldn’t turn up, that the familiar triple-beep of the taxi’s horn wouldn’t come, but it always did. It came now, disturbing my reverie and almost causing me to pour half a cup of milky-tea-two-sugars-there’s-a-pet, into the lap of an unsuspecting Mrs Stuart.
Exchanging looks with Lucy in the mirror, she gave me the half smile that said, it’s your turn. I gave her the rolled eyes that said, don’t I just know it. Then I unfurled the large umbrella by the door and ran to greet the cab at the kerbside before the driver tapped out another distress call on his horn.
The driver was speeding off almost before the door banged shut. He was probably thinking that the four-pound fare wasn’t worth the ear-bashing he got on the way here. It almost certainly wouldn’t have been worth the ten pence tip she gave, that’s if she was even that generous. I had the feeling she was as particular about her route as she was about the hair-pins.
It was always the same routine. Doris had been coming in once a week for years; she’d scared off more Saturday-girls than you could count at a Primark store opening, making more of them than not flee in tears. “I’m only a pensioner yer know,” she’d bark the words out vehemently as she tugged at her over-lacquered hair to free each of the twenty-three pins one by one. “I don’t want you pocketing my pins, they cost a pretty penny you know. Not that anyone cares about pensioners these days.”
In actual fact the pins were worth pennies, but I’d learnt a long time ago not to point that out. After loosening all the pins, she’d count them twice, making sure they were all present, before stuffing them in her purse. When I was done setting her hair, she would insist on me using new pins, stating that she didn’t pay seven-pounds-and fifty-bleeding-pence to provide her own hair pins. I had an idea that the old bag hadn’t had to buy any new pins in years, but wisely, I never voiced this thought.
It was always a long hour, the longest of the week. The only bright side being after she had left, when Lucy and I could enjoy a giggle over her latest ranting. Last week she’d been going on about her neighbours hijacking her wheelie bin. For their part I hoped it wasn’t the same neighbours who had the cat, we all knew how that one turned out.
Seating her at the back wash basins, I wondered what the latest drama would be. I didn’t wonder long, the crazy old bird had begun her verbal assault before I’d even got the water running.