Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow - Part II


This is a continuation of my last post.

My friend Charlie immediately asked " Can we rent this space for band rehersals?" I did some quick mental math, calculating in my head the increased lighting bill vs. the close shave that we had paying our monthly expenses and I threw a number in the air. "400 dollars a month." I offered, expecting him to balk. But he never blinked. His answer to me was actually "It's OK, Tim is working. He can pay for it." Big of him to spend Tim's money, but that was Charlie, he was always expecting someone else to pay the bill. Strangely enough, they always did. He was sort of charmed that way.

The band moved in immediately and we agreed that rent would be paid up front, once a week, as it would ensure the highest likelihood of payment. The hallmarks of a band hang were present right away - a drum kit, a mattress on the floor and a hundred cigarette butts scattered about. At 7:00 PM the first night, the floor started thumping with the sound of heavy metal songs. I was happy as a clam hearing it, but the adjacent shops that were still open were less than pleased. That first week I fielded at least five complaints from neighboring shop owners, but as an ignorant and self-important 19 year old, I gave exactly zero shits.

As the weeks wore on, the neighboring shops continued to belly ache and I asked the band to start their practices at 8:00 pm, so that the majority of the other shops in the strip would be closed. Thankfully, they agreed. Little did I know their agreement to play later was the least of my worries. Louise's husband had just lost his job and he was about to ride up my crack like a thong.

Louise's husband Antoinne was a big hairy hulk of a guy. I rarely saw him outside of giving him the occasional haircut and when I did, he was not exactly a conversationalist. To say that his knuckles dragged on the ground when he walked would be an insult to neanderthals. Antoinne was a bartender, which confused me, as charm, wit and looks are the road to financial success in the drink game. Antoinne didn't have any of those things. There were rumblings and rumors that his well to do father made his money in the "carting" business and was part of all the literal and innuendo that the profession implied. I never believed any of the innuendo until the day that Antoinne and Louise came into the shop to talk to me about the band.

They sat me down and asked me to inform the band that they had to vacate the basement immediately, as Antoinne would be using the space to set up a "business" . I was heartbroken that I had to deliver this message and disappoint the friends that had come to be very comfortable both in and under our salon. Needless to say, it was not my best interaction with the band and of course, they demanded a refund on the unused half of that week's rent.

It took a couple of days for the band to get vans and trucks over to clean out the equipment. During those days, Antoinne hung around the salon and contributed nothing but mute hairiness and a very unpleasant vibe. I could tell that he creeped out the customers and I could not wait to send him underground.

Not even an hour after my friends removed their last piece of equipment, Antoinne and his father had a truck at the back of the shop, unloading desks. When I closed up the shop that night, I went down stairs to find two rows of desks with black phones and a couple of desk lamps set up. Each desk had a folding chair. Like the naive child that I was, I started asking questions. Antoinne and his father's grunts and non-answers eventually tipped me off to stop asking questions.

The following morning when I arrived to work, Louise greeted me and laid down the law about the basement:
- Don't go down there
- Don't ask questions
- Try not to make a lot of floor noise as Antoinne and his friends would be on "telemarketing calls".
My blood was boiling at this point. I had no issue avoiding her lumpy, stank husband, but don't tell me that I can't make noise doing the business that paid this salon's bills. I could feel that things were starting to unravel for this business.

Part III/Conclusion Tomorrow

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