You Be the Judge. Wait, Don't.

One of the few Ashley-maintenance things I do is get my eyebrows done about oh, twice per year. I aim for four, which is still too few, but I can only get halfway there.

In downtown DC, Debbie—who has had control of my brows since 2007—is famous. She’s the BEST. And at $15, she’s also a bargain.

However, getting to see Debbie is a pain. Worth it, but a pain. So, not too long ago, on one of my early days, I got off work at 3:45 and had an appointment to see her at 4:15. After a metro ride to Farragut North, I got to my appointment just in time. And waited. And waited. And waited.

I was peeved. I needed to get back on the metro and get to Friendship Heights to meet up with Chris so we could go pick up Charlotte. As I looked around the salon, my ire grew. I had to pick up my child! Sure, they could run late for a twenty-something professional who works across the street and lives in Dupont. At worst, she’ll just be late to a spinning class. Me? I had real obligations! I HAD TO PICK UP MY DAUGHTER!

Enter Wrong Judgment #1: If you are female and hanging around a salon on L street during early evening hours, you must not have a child, nor anything to worry about. Oh, and ALL children-saddled women live in the ‘burbs. (Or, in my case, The Sticks.)

I waited and waited, furiously texting to Chris my apologies that I’d be late and articulating my pissed-off-ness, text-whining about how pointless it is to even make an appointment.

“Helloooooo!” a cheerful voice finally said, interrupting my text bitch-fest. Debbie! I love Debbie. I really do. So, I softened a tad. “I’m so sorry to keep you waiting,” she said, taking a look at the terrifying mangled forest that constituted my eyebrows. “My daughter was up all night with a 105-degree fever. Her throat was so sore she couldn’t swallow, so I sat up with the poor thing with a bowl for her to spit in.”

I. Felt. Terrible.

Sometimes people are not blowing you off. Sometimes they have sick kids.

Debbie continued, “I had to cancel my morning appointments, so a couple got rescheduled for this evening. I’m really sorry.”

I wanted to shake my head in a don’t-worry-about-it gesture, but that seemed unwise with all the hot wax involved. “Don’t give it another thought,” I said instead. “Life happens.”

“Oh, it sure does,” Debbie said with her usual Debbie perkiness. “Her fever broke and she’s doing better now, but my daughter was crying, ‘Mommy! Don’t go to work!’ But I told her, ‘I’m sorry, sweetie. I have to.’”

Thanks, Debbie. Break my heart in freaking two.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I have a toddler, and when she gets sick, juggling work and her needs at the same time is insanely difficult. I totally understand.”

And I did. Obviously, I had been wrong wrong wrong. I broke the Working Mom Code, assuming I was the ONLY person with a schedule to keep, the ONLY person with a kid to factor in, the ONLY person who has to keep other people waiting for something because my child has gotten her fortieth ear infection. The Working Mom Code clearly states that working moms get a FREE PASS when it comes to anything kid-related. Your son is sick? Send me your chapter manuscript next week. Your labor is being induced on Monday? Don’t do the peer review you already promised to do—I’ll give you another opportunity next year. And yes, I do hear your 4-year-old screeching in the background during our call. I don’t mind. Really. In fact, put him on the phone. I’ll talk to him for a minute, and maybe that will help.

Lord knows I use the Mom Card ALL THE TIME. I can’t participate on that call unless it’s earlier in the day—Charlotte has a Halloween parade. Or, if her school calls to announce a fever, I’m gone within 2 minutes. Everyone who’s waiting on something from me will just have to wait. I no longer apologize (though I did in the past); I explain.

I could see it on Debbie’s face—she had her bright Debbie smile, but it was pretty forced this time around. Obviously, she was torn between keeping her clients happy and holding the spit bowl for her daughter. She was in the midst of a shit day, and on no sleep to boot. And at the end of her shit day, after all of her efforts, she’d probably have irritated clients and a less-than-thrilled ten-year-old.

Now, I think everyone should abide by the Working Mom Code, which itself applies to everyone—for example, if that person wrapping up your sandwich doesn’t exactly offer you a smile, consider that perhaps he has a sick wife at home, no health insurance for her care, and instead of being there while she’s sick from chemo, he’s stuck here making sandwich after sandwich for people with health insurance who never say they want mayo until it’s too damn late so he can at least bring home seven bucks an hour because that’s better than nothing.

You just don't know what other people are silently up against.


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