The Phone Call
I was working away in my office when my phone started vibrating off the table. A strange number was showing on the screen and I am always reluctant to answer the phone when it’s a number I don’t recognise. I decide I probably should answer it as it might be one of those important “life changing” phone calls we all envisage, like winning a radio station contest.
“Hello, this is Jordi speaking” I say in my most professional tone. “Hello, Mr Jordi?” someone with a thick European accent tentatively asks on the other end of the line. “Sure, why not” I respond more confidently knowing that anybody who calls me “Mr Jordi” surely isn’t the bearer of anything life changing. “It’s Christian, from The Salon (I can’t name the salon’s real name), you have an appointment with Steve tomorrow at 1pm” he reminds me. “That’s correct”, I confirm. “Unfortunately Steve is no longer working at The Salon” and after a short pause he adds “he has serious problems”.
Now, I don’t need to know Steve has serious problems, nor what those problems actually are. Steve had been my hairdresser for a year and we’d gotten to know each other as well as we needed to, I never really gave him the full details of my personal life and he only “tip-toed” around his.
Christian concludes that I can still keep my booking, but I’ll obviously have to use a new hairdresser. “But I want Steve”, I think to myself. I liked Steve, I was comfortable with Steve. Steve was that friend I never had. “I’ll let you know” I say to Christian and hang up.
My phone vibrates almost immediately. It’s Steve. I think about not answering, I mean, this is a guy with serious problems after all. Problems, I haven’t quite discovered yet. “Hi Steve” I answer. “Hi Jordi, I guess you’ve heard the news?” Steve asks. “I heard you’re no longer with The Salon, is everything ok?” I ask sympathetically. “I hate them, I just hate them all” Steve unprovocatively hisses whilst crying. I pause, thinking that this is just the tip of the problem iceberg and that I should get off the phone as soon as possible.
I don’t. I’m too nice. I feel compelled to say something reassuring. He’s just been fired. He’s waiting. I need to answer quickly. “Ummmmmm, I’m so sorry, is there anything I can do?” I ask. “You can keep your appointment with me tomorrow” Steve says with hope in his voice. “I can just come to your office, or you can come to my flat, it’s not that far”. The answer is clear in my head, “say no, Jordi, just say no….. Just saaaaaaay noooooooo”. Steve interrupts with “I can do it for half price”. Those were the magic words I needed to hear. “Sure, text me your address when you get the chance”. What was I getting myself into?
The text arrives with the address. It’s in a council estate in Pimlico with directions on how to reach the 7th floor of his tower. I couldn’t really cancel on him, the poor guy has problems and I’ve probably made his day by agreeing to come over. I leave it and decide to go anyway. What’s the worst that could happen, right?
The time arrives to go to Steve’s council flat and I follow his directions (which were very poor). The fact that I am walking aimlessly in the dark with my phone out, laptop bag swinging about whilst genuinely being lost adds to the experience. I felt as though I might as well have had a target on my head for “youths” to come and help themselves to my belongings. “As long as I don’t get stabbed…… Or raped, it’ll be fine” I reassure myself.
I finally find Steve’s flat (fortunately without being assaulted) and knock on the door. This figure, slightly resembling Steve answers the door wearing a pair food stained pyjamas. “Hey Jordi, thanks so much for coming” Steve bursts. Steve has clearly put on about 10 kg’s and not had a haircut since I last saw him a month prior (oh, the irony with him being a hairdresser). I walk through the door into the dimly lit flat and it smells like a window hasn’t been opened in weeks. There are definitely cats somewhere, but I see no cats. I immediately think about turning around, but don’t have the balls to say anything.
Steve leads me into the kitchen where the sink is overflowing with dishes. He pulls up a chair for me, asking me to sit down and whether I’d like a drink. I know that if I say “yes”, (a) The glass will almost certainly be dirty. Or (b) He’s tries to poison me with the goal of killing me and using my skin as part of a suit he’s making. I decline.
Steve starts to cut my hair. “You’re a great guy, Jordi” Steve beams, continuing with “Out of all of my clients I’ve called, you’re the only one nice enough to have come over”. “I’m the only one stupid enough to have come over” I think to myself.
“Nobody likes me and I have no friends, you know?” Steve explodes, yet pausing for an answer. I pause. “Aah, so this is the part where I find out what your problems are” I conclude to myself. “Isn’t that sad?” Steve asks. “Well, I’m sure it’s not that bad, Steve” I answer. There we go, very reassuring, Jordi. Well done, he’s not going to run to the top of this tower and start shooting at people anytime soon with that answer. “Oh, but it is, look at me” Steve says standing in front me whilst shaking a pair of scissors in his hands. I need to be really careful with my next answer, otherwise the thought of him standing atop a clock tower could edge closer to reality. “Steve, you’re a great guy. It’s probably just the fact that you haven’t found the right group of friends yet” I answer with confidence. Steve smiles, whilst responding “Yeah. Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s their problem not mine.” Not exactly what I said, but hey, he seemed happier and I didn’t offend him. Success!
Steve finishes my haircut quite quickly without really delving into his problems either. As I’m about to leave Steve taps my shoulder, stuttering out “Jordi, I wasn’t going to say this. But. I’m going to write about you in my blog.” I turn around. “That’s ok, Steve. You don’t have to” I say. “No no. I insist, it’s the least I can do” says a smiling Steve. I walk out the front door whilst thanking him for everything and leave wondering what the hell had just happened.
The next day I get a phone call from Steve. I contemplate letting it ring out, but I don’t. Again, I’m too nice.
“Jordi, I need help” Steve huffs and puffs on the other end of the phone. “I’ve been thrown out of my apartment, and I was hoping to come and stay with you?”. I pause. “Why am I not surprised, was it the dishes in the sink or the smell of dead cats that tipped your flatmate over the edge?” I want to say. I know I need to answer now, and confidently. “I’m sorry, Steve, but I’m away all weekend” I respond. That should do it. He will have to accept that. Well played sir, well played.
Steve starts crying. “Will your flatmate mind if I stay in your bed whilst you’re away?” Steve asks. He did NOT just ask that, did he? He did. Now I’m starting to get a bit angry. “Steve, I’m really sorry, but no. No you can’t. I mind if you stay in my bed. Nobody stays in my bed but me. Ok?” I respond in a firm tone. “Fine, I’ll stay in a hostel or something, that’s what my life’s come to. I thought we were BEST FRIENDS” Steve retorts. “OK, Steve, I don’t even know you. This whole thing’s just weird. All the best. I hope you find a great hostel.” I respond in a tone suggesting I’m in no way a crap taker. Steve sniffs and literally just hangs up.
That was the last I heard from Steve. I never did get to know what his real problems were, though I can’t ever imagine opening up that “Pandora’s Box”, as I’m afraid as to what would have come out. I’m not sure what the moral of the story is here, but I know that there are better ways to save £15.