Monday, May 30, 2011

Setbacks at the Salon

First, let me write a short summary for the one or possibly two people who read this blog and aren’t facebook friends with me.  As you may have surmised from previous posts, I am a licensed nail technician.  Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long in the beauty industry to realize that I’d rather force toothpicks under my toenails then work at about 98.53% of the salons out there.  So, the great journey to become an entrepreneur began.

About a month ago I found a commercial space that had potential, and more importantly, was the right price.  You can see pictures of the place on my facebook page here:  Building a Salon


So, the big day arrived on Saturday.  The realtor finally had the approval on her end, and it was time to sign a pre-lease, and get a key to the shop. 

There have been plenty of setbacks since our original meeting with her.  The building, which sat unoccupied for over three years, had some water damage from a leak in the roof.  The roof had been replaced, and then it was ripped off in a storm about a week ago and repaired again.  There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in the back end of the building, but at least we could get started on the work we need to do in our suite at the front.

We met the agent, she let us into the building, and we were immediately assaulted by a pungent damp smell that hadn’t been there on our previous visits.  Not only that, but there was a huge puddle on the floor in the back hallway.  The realtor was dismayed to say the least; that roof has been a real thorn in her side it seems, but she called the roofing company while we were there with her, and assured us that someone would be out to see what was going on by the end of the day.

When we went into my suite, we saw that they had installed a sink, unfortunately not in the location where I had expected it to be installed, but whatever.  You live and adapt, right?  What was more concerning to me, was that there was mold where they had removed the wainscoting to put in the sink.

John and I discussed the implications a little bit, and I rubbed at a spot with the toe of my shoe.  It rubbed right off, and was clean underneath, so I decided I wasn’t too concerned.  It looked like it was all on the surface, probably brought on by the recent extended troubles with the roof.  I made plans to bring in some bleach to scrub the walls, and didn’t think too much more about it.

Let me just say here (because I know what you’re thinking), that I’m not a complete moron: I’m only about 78%…  My prelease has a condition that if I cannot get licensed by the State Cosmetology Board for any reason, I get to walk away with all of my money refunded, every penny of it; no penalties, no obligations.  Keep that in mind as you continue reading, because I’m not as screwed as I could be.  My leasing agent wants to keep me happy because she really doesn’t want to give back the hefty check I just wrote her. 

So, we went over the terms of the lease, and I made sure the agent understood and was OK with my plans to basically gut the place.  The lease was signed, and I got my key.

Yay, I’m now a commercial property lessee!

The next morning, we gave showering a pass, and went over to the salon for some demolition and cleaning, wearing our grubbiest clothing.  My super-awesome friend Lisa met us there, because she takes hallucinogens  is completely off her nut volunteered to help me scrub the moldy wall.

The first roadblock we hit was when we realized that the water hadn’t been turned on in the building yet.  It’s kind of hard to wash the walls without it.  So, John made a run home for a few gallons of hot water to fill our buckets with.

Then, as more pieces of wainscoting started coming down, I realized the enormity of the problem.  The mold spans the lower half of an entire wall, as well as other spots here and there throughout the suite.  Our efforts to scrub and bleach it off the walls, proved that it wasn’t just on the surface.  It penetrates the gypsum, and has been there for awhile, hidden under the wainscoting and pegboard that covered the walls of the suite.  The recent bout of flooding from the roof just infused it with a new lease on life.

We discussed the problem, after an hour of hard scrubbing and bleaching just left a nasty smear on the drywall, and decided it all needed to be torn out.  The problem with that plan of action is that the newly installed sink will need to be taken down so that the wall it’s mounted on can be removed.

As we were looking under the sink to see if we’d need to call in the pros for that job, it struck me…  The plumber had bolted the sink to a moldy wall!  He didn’t wipe it off, didn’t do anything to remove the mold.  He just slapped a shiny new sink against a smelly, wet, disgusting wall!  Who does that?  What the…  ?!?!?

Anyway, while I was still trying to wrap my brain around the logic of bolting a brand new sink against a moldy wall, John decided it was time to call the agent.  The skies had grown rather ominous while we were working, and he stepped out into the hallway to go out and take a look while he made the call.  As I was still staring at the sink sputtering about incompetent contractors, I heard John call to me…

“Hey Anne!”

“Why wouldn’t they at least wipe the mold off?  Make a teeny tiny bit of effort to do the job right?!?!?”



“It’s raining in the hallway.”

"It’s raining in the…  What?!?!”

I bolted out the door of the suite to see a waterfall in the back of the building.  The leaky, but supposedly just repaired, roof was putting out more water than my showerhead does. 

I picked my jaw up off the floor and thought that if I closed my eyes and laid down in the hall, perhaps I could wake up in my bed two days ago.  Please, let this just be an anxiety induced dream, spawned from my inherent fear of failure.

The puddle in the hall started to soak through my shoes and I knew that while this was a nightmare, it was not a dream.

Life, it appears, can never ever be easy.

So what did we do?  John called the agent like he’d planned, made her aware of the new water feature the building was spawning, and told her about the mold issues, and what that meant on our end.  We continued the demo, but stopped bothering trying to clean the mold away.  It will come down with the drywall.

Meanwhile, John and I have discussed our plan of action.  I can’t get licensed if there’s even a hint of mold in the building.  I’m not selling trinkets in a shop, I’m doing things to the human body that can put them at risk if my shop isn’t spic and span.  Mold does not have a place anywhere near my salon.  We need to make sure our agent understands that, and is prepared to go to the expense of cleaning down the entire building, not just my suite, so that I’ll be able to run a safe and healthy salon.  If she’s not, then I take that escape clause I mentioned a page or so ago.

While we wait to see what she’s going to do, we’re still demoing, but not constructing at all.  We’ll tear down to the point where we’re ready to rebuild, and stop, if we need to, until she completes the repairs and decontamination.













A little bit of icky mold in the last picture.  The wall behind where I’m standing to take the picture it is the worst of the bunch and the one that needs to be completely ripped out.

So, while we’ve made a lot of progress in the last couple of days, I’m not sure if we’re actually getting anywhere yet. That’s ok though, I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s how to evolved and adapt, and not take this kind of thing too seriously.  It will all work out in the end, one way or another.



Monday, May 16, 2011

Choking PSA

128975904744579885No, this post isn’t a primer on how to choke someone who’s annoying you, though I know we all have someone we’d like to try that maneuver on.  It’s a reminder that life isn’t predictable, things happen fast, and if you’re not prepared, you’re screwed.

First and foremost, before you even read this post, if you don’t know basic First Aid and CPR, go read this:  Life Saving Basics

When you’re done, come back and read my post, then go enroll in the next class you’re able to attend.  You may never, ever need to use these skills, but if you’re called upon to save someone’s life and you don’t have them, you will always regret it.


I was twelve when I got my first Red Cross First Aid and CPR certifications.  I went to summer camp where I tested out of the swimming classes they offered.  So, instead, they put me into lifeguard training classes with some of the older kids. 

I’ve mostly kept my certifications up to date throughout the years. Between having young kids, and working in a few different nursing homes, I’ve either needed them to be current, or it just seemed like a really good idea.  Let’s face it, if you’re a parent, you know the importance of first aid. As a mom or dad you need to know when a kiss and a band-aid will do, or when to run to the ER for stitches. You should know how to preserve a tooth that’s been knocked out, or an arm that’s been lopped off.  Last but not least, you absolutely have to know how to save your child’s life with CPR or the Heimlich, while you pray to God you’ll never have to.

Not too long ago a friend of mine had a choking emergency with one of her kids.  Her child began to choke at the dinner table, panicked and ran from the room.  She was lucky enough that someone realized what was happening, and she survived the experience frightened but ok.  My friend used the opportunity to tell all of us to make sure our kids knew what to do in a choking emergency: to remain calm, and find an adult.

Never have I ever been so thankful for my training, and a little bit of friendly advice than I am today.

This morning I woke up Jenna and we went about our normal routine.  She got some cereal to eat for breakfast, and I stumbled into the office to check my email and other messages with a cup of coffee to keep me company.  Neither she nor I even resemble human in the morning, so to avoid any undue stress or confrontations, we have a non-verbal agreement to leave each other alone for about twenty minutes while we wake up. 

This morning was no different than any other, except that Jenna had started nursing a cold over the weekend, so I listened to her cough and snuffle, and wondered if she was going to be able to make it through a day at school without being sent home.  Then I heard her footsteps behind me…

I turned to find her clutching her chest, eyes wild, and NOT BREATHING!

“Are you choking?” I asked, and she nodded.

“Can you breathe at all?” I asked, while my heart started to pound.  She shook her head no.

I was already on my feet, though I don’t remember getting up.  I grabbed her, turned her around, and started to perform the Heimlich.

Time slowed, or my sluggish brain sped up, and I could almost see the first aid manual in front of me as I remembered what to do.  I felt along her ribcage to find the base of her sternum, placed two fingers from my right hand under it, and my left fist below them.  Please don’t let me break her ribs, I prayed silently. Then I grabbed the fist with with my other hand, and gave two sharp quick pulls in and up against her diaphragm, just as I’d been taught.

I paused a moment, listening to hear if she was moving any air, trying to remember where the cordless phone was, and at what point I was supposed to call 911 if I couldn’t get her to breathe.  She was still choking and I had a instant of despair thinking it wasn’t going to work, it had been too long since I’d taken a class, my technique was probably all wrong.

Another pull and a pause; still nothing.  One more; please breathe baby. Mommy will buy you a pony if you want, just as long as I don’t have to watch you die today.

One more quick pull, and the sweet sound of coughing and gagging filled my ears.  I’ve never been so happy to hear my child retch before.

We collapsed into a nearby chair, and I held her while we both cried.  My hands started to shake as I stroked her hair and told her how proud I was that she did exactly the right things, even though I knew how scared she must have been.

I calmed her down, bundled her up on the couch with a blanket, and went upstairs, under the pretense of getting dressed, to have a quiet nervous break down.

People tend to think that because of my anxiety disorder I’m prone to panic in an emergency. It’s actually just the opposite. I do quite well under pressure, I’m not afraid of blood, and I’m well trained. It’s not until afterwards that I start to feel sick and panicky.

Things could have easily turned out differently this morning.  If my friend hadn’t told me to talk to my kids about what to do in just that circumstance, Jenna could have choked to death in the other room, unable to call for help, with me sitting just a few feet away.  If I hadn’t taken several first aid classes over the years, I may not have known the proper way to apply the Heimlich Maneuver.  I could have done it incorrectly and crushed her ribcage or punctured a lung trying to save her life.

image00112We do a lot of things for our kids, little things, big things, silly things and annoying things.  Today do the most important thing for them that you may never actually need.  Learn how to save their life, and teach them how to safe themselves. 

Talk to your kids, tell them that if they should ever start to choke, to try and remain calm, find an adult, and signal them by placing their hands to their throats in the universal choking gesture.

As an adult, please sign up for a Red Cross life saving course; take one for the first time, or just take a refresher.  There is not a single more important thing you can do for the people you love.