This wasn’t how I expected my six month stint in nail school to end. Today was a surreal, jacked up day for a lot of people, and I feel a little bit guilty about being the luckiest girl in the world.
8:00 am: Ms. Lorraine, my nail technology instructor, sat on the metal steps outside the entrance to Destination Academy, a lit cigarette held with the assuredness of a military veteran turned hairstylist with a combined 40 years in the trenches.
“I’m glad you came to school today.”
“Ummm, why?” I asked suspiciously.
“It’s your last day. They’re closing down the school. You’re going to be the last graduate.”
What followed was a chaotic morning of classmates (hair, skin and nails) arriving at school to be met with a frazzled “Pack up your stuff and hurry! The constable is here and he’s going to lock the doors. Your hours will be forwarded to the state board. Take everything with you. Quickly!” Teachers and office employees wore the same shocked expression as students. Panicked tears fell and tempers flared.
Some students had pre-paid their tuition in full (anywhere from $4,000 – $20,000), and still had several months remaining before they were scheduled to graduate. Teachers began planning their day’s trek to the unemployment office. The ethical office employees took responsibility for locating and rescuing everyone’s paperwork that proved their attendance. Countless boxes, cases and computers were shuffled out of the building into waiting vehicles.
Destination Academy is (was?) located above Destination Manhattan, a day spa and salon owned by the same person. Upon emerging from the second floor, it became obvious that the shitstorm that had enveloped Destination Academy was relatively mild in comparison to the bedlam laying waste at ground level. Here, dozens of employees and chair renters scurried to remove their belongings – including large items, like furniture and stationary massage tables – from the building before the ever-present yet even-tempered constable had the locksmith change the locks.
Over the course of the next 90 minutes, moving trucks pulled up one after the other while fuming beauty professionals directed the movers on where to haul cabinets, bins, and gigantic hair dryers. Cell phone use was ubiquitous, as friends and family members were summoned to listen, calm, and ultimately show up in pickup trucks. Appointment cancellation calls to clients came next, and without warning. Not surprisingly, Gary, the hairstylist turned salon and beauty school owner — who apparently hadn’t been paying the rent for who knows how long – was nowhere to be found during this entire debacle.
I could tell you that this turn of events came as a complete surprise, but that would be a lie. I attended Destination Academy in 2008 to be educated in the science of skincare, and rumors of school closure ran rampant back then, too. Just last year, a handful of trusted sources informed me of bounced checks (both payroll and payment to vendors) and declined company credit cards. Kits and textbooks for newly enrolled students were on “backorder” for months, and basic items (gloves, hair color, facial products, etc.) necessary to perform basic services (hair coloring, facials, etc.) would run out, never to be replaced. But we tend to get lulled into a state of complacency when at the 11th hour we manage to make do with what we have. I mean, the lights were still on in the damn building as recently as 7 o’clock tonight, and rumors are just rumors, right?
As for how this affects your humble narrator, I just really hope it doesn’t. Thanks to my lovely teachers (and for everything it’s worth, I consider you ladies friends to whom I am eternally grateful), I was able to sign off on my attendance sheets proving 600 hours of instruction before I went home today. Hopefully the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology accepts my paperwork without incident, at which point I can schedule my written exam, and after that my practical exam (where I have my way with a fake plastic hand while state employees observe with a critical eye). If I can maintain any semblance of luck at all, I will be set up to do natural nail manicures and pedicures at Feetish Spa Parlor sometime this spring.
And that’s pretty much it for #AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures. I had begun working on a rather boring and uninspired blog post last week in anticipation of my red carpet-walking, certificate-receiving graduation extravaganza, but apparently life detests a dull blog post even more than I do. As a reminder, you can hit up #AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to take a gander at how I’ve spent five long hours per day, five long days per week, over the last six long months. Hopefully the 202 morsels of hashtagged wonder that pop up prove that it hasn’t all been bad, or all for nothing.
Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.