Sun Stories: Cassie – Chapter 1 – The Stewardess

It’s the busy season at the the salon. We’re mobbed every night. That’s why I need Amelia and Eileen to help me. They’re the best hires we’ve ever had and I adore them both.

I usually leave the girls to work the front counter because as long as I’ve been here I’m accustomed to doing everything. So when it gets crazy busy in here, I’m happy to just run around and clean beds and not have to deal with all of the complicated intake. That’s great practice for the girls, because that’s the nuts and bolts of the job and will make them more independent of me and they’ll be able to run the salon without me.

Unlike in my past corporate jobs, I as a leader train my employees to walk where I walk, not where I point. The more they know and the more efficient they become, the more valuable they become to the company. In the rat race I usually worked for loser no talents that had just been there longer than anybody else because they were mentally incapable of getting a better job so they became middle managers.

Losers. When they met me they saw the talent and they held it down. They spent most of their time having meetings and controlling the staff and pretending to do their jobs and justifying their positions.

I’ve always been a shark. Let me swim and I’ll run down and kill the accounts all day long. It’s not about the money, it’s just low self esteem and talent to be number one because your father told you were a loser.

I’m a deadly sales guy who will work until they pat me in the face with a shovel.

I happened to be at the front counter with Eileen for a moment last week when an attractive 30 year old, brown eyed, fit, blonde, came in to tan. She said she was a transplant from California. I was running my usual program of charm on her and wine had been discussed.

She lit up when I mentioned, oceans of free chardonnay.

“I’m a flight attendant and I’ve been recently sent here to be in Philly as my hub.”

Oh, baby seal that knows nothing about the city or where to drink?

“Oh, I love that. Flight attendant. You’re not around all of the time!”

I have to be honest, that would be a good gig for me. I love my time alone.

I can see we’re connecting and shes giggling. I can add her to my circle. Maybe.

A week passes and she appears again.

“Hey. I just got in from L.A. How are you?”

“I’m good. Great to see you.”

“You too.”

I walk her back to her room. “I’m actually off Saturday, (phenomenon because I’m always working) If you’d like we could meet up for a drink. Your new in town and i know all the good spots.”

“That would be awesome. Text me on Saturday.”

Cassie seems great. We actually joked about how I had lost a friend with her same name because she moved away and it almost seemed like she wanted to be the new Cassie.

I miss the real one, but maybe this girl will be a sweet band aid for a few drinks.

I push her my contact info and leave it at that. I’m 55, she’s 31 (allegedly) so we’re still stretching it on a newbie.

She gets back to me before she exits the sunbed. This is a good sign.

I’m not looking for anything, but I just love the energy and the game of meeting someone new.

I discover I’m off Saturday.

I’m going to text Cassie and see if she’d like to meet me for a drink.

 

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Eileen – Chapter 11 – Formal and Lost Phone

Eileen texted me and told me she needed Friday off to go to her formal. She’s in a sorority (of course) at Drexel Uni and this is the event of the season. I check with Amelia, to see if she can work. Amelia, is flying to Okinawa with the Air Force Reserves on Saturday and says yes.

I’m relived because I wont be killed at the salon Friday night with her there. Eileen is eternally grateful we have her covered, and because she’s a freshman and in a sorority we have her back.

My staff is great this year like I said before. Amelia is amazing and so good at everything in the salon. I couldn’t have wish for better. Eileen is fantastic with the clients and new intake every night when we get run over with business.

These girls are simply the best I’ve ever hired in the history of the salon.

Finding staff this rich at this dollar amount is nearly unheard of in this industry. I’ve truly been blessed to have girls this good during the busy season.

So Eileen is off Friday to go to her college formal, and I work her Saturday and Sunday.

I text her Sunday night to remind her that Amelia is traveling to Okinawa for two weeks with the Air Force Reserves and that I need her in at 3 on Monday.

She’s down.

I’ll really miss Amelia, because I think we’ve become good friends working here.

But I’ll just miss her presence because I really care for her.

I text Eileen and she’s ready to work all the shifts this week.

Eileen comes in and she is sad.

“How was your formal?”

“I got super drunk and left my phone in an Uber.”

To spare my readers the drama, I will spell it all out here.

Eileen went to the formal, (I’m sure looking fabulous) got plastered due to the pressure of those around her, puked with the help of her sorority leader, wasn’t looked after properly by her sober coach, there’s video of her drunk ass being led into her dorm, lost her phone in an UBER, went to the hospital, and has been brought up on charges of public drunkeness by the college.

I would usually call that, “Saturday Night in my Twenties” but this is a nightmare for my hire.

An 18 year old girl without her phone is like a seal stranded on an ice floe surrounded my killer whales.

I feel her pain.

It’s a bad week. Baby doesn’t have her phone. which is crippling in this day and age. (I’ve felt it myself)

The salon is crazy busy, and Eileen’s doing great. Obviously for a girl her age, without a phone is like losing a limb, but she has her tablet and doing her best.

I hear the whole horror saga and really feel for her. I wish I were there so I could look after her like I would my own daughter Lorelei.

Eileen’s been a pleasure to work with this season, and I would do anything to help her any way I can. When I heard the story of her struggling to get her phone back from the loser driver I actually felt angry like a family member had been hurt.

Four days pass and Eileen is the consummate professional at the salon.

Eileen’s had a hell of a week, and I want to do something to make her feel better. Like I said, these young girls have their challenges in their lives, but they work for us. They’re the best I’ve ever had.

I recognize talent unlike most of the insecure shitstains I’ve worked for in the rat race. Just assholes that have zero talent and can’t work anywhere else and can’t do what I do.

I’m fine with that. That’s just the way of world, and corporate america.

But I’ll never let anybody that works for me suffer. Ever.

Through all of this drama, where Eileen is now facing fines and has to take computer modules on being drunk, I will support her. It’s total bullshit.

College students experiment with everything. Eileen is a good student and majoring in Criminal Justice. She’s a brilliant girl. I see that in her. She can have all of the teenage world drama she wants, but at the end of the day, she’s a terrific person I admire.

I’m happy to work with young people that are on point and they’re willing to work any job and do whatever is asked of them with a smile. That’s where I come from and Amelia and Eileen possess all of that goodness.

I realize with Amelia gone in Okinawa and Eileen picking up all over shifts, coupled with no phone and censure, she’s in a bad place.

But does it affect her performance at the salon during our crazy busy season? Not in the slightest. Because of her not having access to her cell she was actually more productive. (Surprise)

 

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Kita – Chapter 55 – Appearance – Part 2

She stumbled before the lion and sadly I took her down.

This salon job groomed me for my current position at the restaurant in Rittenhouse. I realize I had to do this job to transition to where I am now.

It’s so good, but let me get to that in a minute.

All of the wonderful young people who I’ve had the honor to work with has been amazing.

No more do I get up at 6 in the morning to go sit in a cubicle to work for a bunch of loser assholes. No more do I go to 3 meetings a week to waste my time and not be out selling. No more do I have to look for a better job on LinkedIn which is an absolute waste of time and is just a corporate Facebook. No more of any of that. I simply go to work, bring the charm and the sales management ability and go home.

Done.

Do I work more hours? Fuck yea, but I like what I do now. Great salary, free food and TIPS! I’m amazed!

I love it!

As much fun as I’ve had here at the salon. If I could find a way to get the fuck out of here forever, I would. (And I will, but for now it’s $200 in easy money.)

I made that in tips at the restaurant today so I’m not long for the salon.

It’s weird that the whole tanning salon mantra is going through my mind right now. But it is what it is. This is happening, and I want it to end. I had high hopes, it went nowhere, kind of like where Achilles is going, but I can no longer ride that dead-end with him as he collects money in a dying industry.

Amelia says she hates everyone that comes in here. Tanning is for a certain crowd and you know what? They’re all shitty people for the most part. I get the whole… I don’t want to be whiter than my wedding dress, and I’m going to Mexico, and I don’t want to burn to a crisp, but the regular tanners… fuck you.

You’re all losers.

They think Eileen is coming back this year. Ha! I’ve been in touch with her and I’m trying to get her a better job at Square 1682!

It’s over, and I’m just here transitioning and collecting my $200 a month because I have nothing better to do on a Sunday.

All of this is running through my head instead of the thing that should be there.

 

I had sex with Kita on two occasions at this very site.

 

She’s 22 years old.

WTF? How did this happen?

I know how this happened.

You have a naive young girl who’s obsessed with tanning. (Addiction and body issues) I work at a tanning salon. I’m nice and a dad. I listen and offer advice. I’m good at getting back to her on an ongoing basis to help her after a barrage of texts about a foolish boy she’s seeing. I give her gifts. I give her pepper spray to protect herself. I give her snacks. I take her out to a nice dinner. I take her to lunch. I show her how a boy should treat a girl.

Every boy in her life is a fail. Her dad is unavailable. Why did he even adopt these two Asian girls???

 

I’m patient and present.

I’m of course attracted to her based on my history.

I’m good to her.

She stumbled before the lion and sadly I took her down.

 

The buzzer goes off for sunbed 3, and I know Kita is finished her session.

 

Kita comes out and approaches the counter.

She smiles.

I smile.

“I’ve missed you, Charles.”

“I’ve missed you too, Kita.”

“Charles can we set up a date somewhere we can catch up and talk?”

“Of course. I’ll text you and we’ll coordinate our schedule to make that happen.”

“Thanks so much. We have a lot to discuss.”

“Really?”

“No. All good. Text me.”

“Okay dear. We’ll work it out.

“Good. I look forward to that.

She smiles and turns. I watch her pad out of the salon like a kitten. I quietly walk to the hallway and watch her as she goes down the stairs.

Those lovely legs.

I’m happy that Kita’s returned to me. My heart sings. I’m so happy to see her.

I’m also thinking about a bunch of her shitty life drama, but we’ll have to get to the hard cold, fact that we had sex.

Oh, and I will ease myself into that conversation…

I need to set up a little date to catch up.

God, she’s beautiful.

 

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Kita – Chapter 54 – Appearance – Part 1

“Funny how everybody wants to be dark, but nobody really wants to be black.”

I settle the cash register drawer. I take the profits, wrap them in a receipt and drop them in the safe in the office. Every room’s been swept and mopped. (I know I said I didn’t care but I’m dedicated to any job I always do.) The laundry’s done and the trash has been taken out.

Normally I would gather my stuff and head out.

But today is different.

Because Kita’s in a stand up tanning bed getting tan. I haven’t seen her in months and the last time I saw her was insane.

I should have seen those encounters coming. What did I think? A naive inexperienced young girl leans on me for support and I exploit it. I feel horrible. I’m a dad. I should’ve never let that happen.

Why did I go on all of those little dates with her? Why did I buy her all of those little gifts?

This a young girl who was adopted into a wealthy family. She’s lived a sheltered life. She went to a private school for girls.

She has no clue when it comes to navigating affairs of the heart.

She had a loser boyfriend that grew tired of her and dumped her before her freshman year at university.

He was her first love and she lost her virginity to him. They both didn’t even realize what they had with each other.

Sure, she’s a zero, but I’ve seen pictures of him. The usual thumb. I use the word thumb because my friend Molly used that to once describe a guy that was a nothing. I like that. Hold up your thumb. That’s him. A nothing.

She doesn’t know any better. She’s 22. No clue.

I look back on myself at that age and you think you knew better, and then you realize your whole life was run by desire, emotion, inexperience and privilege.

You have no idea at 22 what life’s really like.

It’s so much more complicated than that, but only if you make it that way. With relationships, and possessions.

Life can be simple if you want it, but most people when they’re young don’t want that.

It’s sad, really.

The shoes with the red soles. The hand bags with the MK, LV, or Coach on them. So sad. So empty. You’re just a walking advertisement of assumed affluence.

You sad fools.

That idea of success, and affluence, when really you just got ripped off by a large corporation that sold you and idea that buying their shitty stuff made you look rich and successful.

That’s the world today.

Our social media that shows the greatest hits, and hides all of the fear, loss and debt most people have.

It’s all a lie.

 

I look at the timer and Kita’s been cooking in the booth for eight minutes. She’ll be out soon. Of course she does the full nine minutes to ensure she’s dark enough.

Funny how everybody wants to be dark, but nobody really wants to be black.

I’m in an odd moment here on a Sunday at the salon.

I thought by now I’d have some sort of business partnership with Achilles. Turns out it was all just careless talk at a tanning salon. After everything we discussed for the last year and a half… NOTHING came out of it.

I’m not bitter. I get it. Achilles is stuck in the past and has the inability to recognize a real opportunity when it’s presented to him. Sadly, because of who he is, he can have the best employee that he’s ever had working for him, and he’ll simply treat them like they’re any other $9 employee he’s ever had.

His ignorance to elegance doesn’t surprise me.

Sadly, I left corporate America and the rat race, but actually fell into a similar situation. My talent squandered by ignorance or sadly… jealousy.

So same thing, but in an entirely different business.

But happily, I adapted and found a better job to make my life extremely better from learning how to do this kind of job. I’m so… grateful.

Not to Achilles. But to myself.

Poor Achilles.

He’s a sad cliche. Greek. 50. Balding and always wears a hat to hide it. Works out and eats crazy supplements all the time. The 30-year-old girlfriend he’s been banging since she was 22. He’s been clear on no kids, so this poor girl never gets that with his misogynist. Never talks about his ex-wife, or his other two sons. owns a $20k Italian motorcycle. also has a red 90’s Z28, with a booming stereo and an exhaust that is extra loud. Don’t get me started on the outdoor jacuzzi….

Here is a man who’s trapped in his no game/no personality teen life, who fears aging.

I thought this was my key out of the corporate rat race and it didn’t happen.

But this story has a happy ending.

I get out in the final reel of this movie.

 

Kita will be out in a minute and now I have to deal with her.

 

Where the fuck is this going?

 

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Eileen – Chapter 10 – International Restaurant

I love Amelia. She is Megasun personified. Best employee ever. Achilles is completely oblivious because all he does is deal with the salon and the fitness center from 10am to 3pm.

After that is when the magic and the money happens.

He has no contact with me and the girls unless something goes wrong at the salon. My job is to make the salon sing and never call him.

I have the best staff I’ve ever had in the history of this company.

 

Achilles has lived his life with $9 an hour marginal garbage for years. But you bring me in and you’ll get better staff, because that’s what I do.

Does he appreciate it? No. He’s Greek, They work and grow and run businesses. They never trust their staff because most of them are shit and can’t be trusted.

But something magical happened in 2016. Achilles suddenly got a $50k corporate guy to come give him the fuel that professional, in the rat race, gave to corporations every day. But I drove that into a tanning salon. I was sick of corporate america and working for a bunch of weak assholes.

I can use all of my powers in this retail outlet.

What if we invest into a fitness center ?

Lets do that.

Sadly, never happened.

Let’s open another salon on the other side of Broad.

Never happened.

I’m the greatest employee you’ve ever had, and you’re still just running the last tanning salon in the city of Philadelphia.

We’ve faced our struggles and it’s all good, but here we are in our busy season.

I’m grateful for Amelia and Eileen.

They are hands down, the greatest employees I’ve ever had.

How is that possible?

Amelia, great with the clients, calm, cleaning, fun, charming, the extra stuff. Eileen, always charming, calm, and beautiful but willing to jump in whenever necessary.

I’ve some how been blessed.

Amelia and Eileen are beyond great.

I love them both in their earnest and elegance.

They run the front counter and get it right every night, and I get the luxury to run around the salon and just clean beds and do laundry. (Love it!)

That shows me that the most masterful member stands down while his best runs the ship. They’re ready and they’re better than him for this job tonight.

I have hired the best and this progression shows me that I’m right. They work independent of me and Achilles barely knows who they are. I would find that odd but I know him. He’s dealt with garbage employees for ten years, and can no longer tell the difference. I think he’s even losing sight of his very finest.

I want no credit in this, Amelia and Eileen are my best hires, and I am so very proud of them. I simply trained them and these lovely birds flew.

Oh darn…. I’ve been so caught up in how great my staff is… I promised Eileen if she got three compliments on her make up (Which is always amazing) I’d buy her dinner.

Sadly, she only got two but we did go to McDonald’s, and she loved it.

We did a group text to Amelia that I took my hire to “An International Restaurant for dinner Friday night.”

We all had a good laugh over it and I can’t wait to take Amelia for gelato as soon as possible!

 

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Amelia – Chapter 7- Square 1682 – Part 2

So the lady is bending Amelia’s ear and she wants to go.

I get it. I hate the lonely inserters. But I love that Amelia has played her as my daughter.

Because this lonely alienated middle-aged woman that’s inserted herself into my night with Amelia need to learn that you don’t do that.

It rattled Amelia and she really wanted to go. This clown gave Amelia her card and Amelia played the daughter card and left.

Drunk blond was sipping her crown royal and her friend’s not coming down to meet her was doing her thing. I paid my bill and then I saw the impossible.

Amelia had left her phone on the bar.

Oh shit. You guys can’t live with out that any more.

I can’t either.

I paid my bill and told Roman that if Amelia returned, her phone was safe. This crazy woman drove my baby out so hard she left her phone behind. I hate that fat old chick!

I leave Square and run to Suburban Station. I figure maybe I can catch Amelia and get her the phone. I jog/run (smoking a cigarette) north on 17th street to the subway entrance.

It’s filled with usual homeless detritus asking for money, but I blaze past them because I must find Amelia.

I land in Suburban station. It is eerily empty. No people, just homeless and cops.

Fuck!

Where is Amelia and what train is she on? I’ll go to the Septa office.

I roll in and tell Brian and Atheya my dilemma. They’re great, and Brian gets on the loudspeaker and makes and announcement throughout all of Suburban Station.

“Amelia Eckhart! Please come to the Septa main office!”

I figure this will work.

It won’t.

We go again, and I get to know Brian and Athene even better now, but nothing we do yields Amelia.”

“Dude I appreciate you going twice with the announcement, but what if she takes the Broad Street Line?”

“That’s outside our voice”

I loved that this pony-tailed clerk articulated that so elegantly.

I texted Roman that if she came back to text me.

I was panicked and sad for my co worker

I texted Eileen to help me on social media.

I care about Amelia. I don’t want her scared about her phone. I know we can’t live without it anymore but I have to look after my friend.

I don’t want her to be scared.

I give up.

I’m walking home.

I’m two blocks from my house when I get the text from Roman…

She’s here.

“I’m om my way”

I scamper through Rittenhouse and back to Square.

Amelia is sitting at the bar, and scary woman is long gone.

I clap Amelia’s phone down in front of her on the bar.

I’m happy to see her.

I get another Chardonnay as a gift.

Amelia tells me she was on the train at 11th street when she realized she lost her phone.

Baby jumped off and came back.

I was so worried about her. My Amelia. I’m really glad it all worked out.

 

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Amelia – Chapter 5 – Perfect Storm

Amelia and Eileen have both killed it at the salon this season. I’ve said this before, but I’ve been blessed with seasonal employees that are absolutely outstanding.

I use the word blessed because we’ve had so many failures through here in the last two years.

I can now see why Achilles has agonized over his business and closed two salons because of shitty employees.

But suddenly, this season we’ve been blessed with fabulous employees. I’ve said this many times before, but it really is extraordinary that we have acquired these two girls just when we needed them.  They’re both terrific.

It’s a big deal, because in the retail and hospitality industry, it is so hard to find good employees.

But we’ve done it.

Somehow we have acquired quality help. It’s a welcome asset to the company.

Both girls know I write about everything in my life on this blog, and wait in anticipation for the outcome that won’t come for a year. But it’s here now.

But I have to address something here.

We all adore sweet Eileen as a baby sister or a cute niece. She’s so good with the customers. At 18 she’s a wonderful asset to the company that we couldn’t have expected, but we have somehow acquired. So much better that the detritus we once employed.

Not you Trish, but yea, you. (See: Trish – The She Wolf)

But I want to talk about my girl, Amelia. She works Monday through Wednesday. She’s here one day longer that Eileen except for every other Saturday that she’ll take.

Eileen is 18 years old. She’s a baby and we all love her and she’s great at the job. I adore her and love her performance on the job on a daily basis, but I feel closer to Amelia.

I worked in banking for 20 years. I worked in advertising for 10. I killed it but it’s a horrible existence.

Amelia’s from a large Irish Catholic family that’s incredibly conservative. She went to the college of arts and her degree is in that. So basically she can’t get a job in the arts because that shit never pays unless you make it.

I admire her for what she’s done because I pursued art early in life just like her but if you don’t become a rockstar, you’re fucked.

I ended up in retail and eventually banking like my dad.

That works for the american dream and the whole… I’ll meet a girl and get married, have a kid and live the American dream, but for many of us it becomes an enormous nightmare.

Amelia’s found that she has a degree in something she can’t use currently, and is working her ass off to survive. She’s in debt from school like every other person her age.

But she’s minutes away from getting certified as a personal trainer. She works at a gym on the wrong side of Broad street. She drives for Uber when she can to make money, and has recently taken up with a catering company where she can make some serious loot as a bartender.

I’m rooting for her to succeed and will do whatever I can with my connections to help her.

The last few Mondays we’ve gone to Square 1682 and chilled for drinks. I pound Chardonnay and she goes with her usual Bulliet Rye and ginger ale.

I work so much and so does she that I think Amelia and I enjoy the gentle repose of getting run over at the salon, and then kicking back at my favorite bar for a few drinks and laughs to unwind.

The bill comes and thanks to my man, Roman, it’s $5.50. $60 in cocktails for nothing. We tip him hard.

I was once giggling with a former employee at the salon and an older guy that loved the girl I was working with asked what was going on. He was obviously a little jealous because he loved her in a phicklephily sort of way. I told him that he could adore a waitress but he’ll never have the relationship that she has with her co-worker, because they share a daily experience. I don’t know if he got it but that was a true statement.

Co-workers are so close in a company. When it’s good, it’s magic. Some of the best relationships I’ve ever had were with people I worked with. Duncan. Michelle. All LOVE.

It’s no different here.

I’m just going to say this.

I have feelings for Amelia.

Let’s not jump to conclusions. And please don’t assume.

We work together everyday. We’re in the shit in the busiest season of this salon. We have to run, communicate and keep this baby clean.

It’s not easy. We’ve figured out a way to make the place sing. Achilles has no idea what that looks like. He just knows when the place isn’t 1000% clean.

Amelia and I can arrive at the salon in different moods, and within an hour we’re happy and laughing our butts off.

One of our clients called us the Gruesome Twosome. I don’t get it but we’re a deadly team that are completely in touch every minute we’re working together.

We play a certain music station, Amelia, is on top of the laundry, she get the rolled towels at the back sink, she’s calm and great with all of the clients, (and the new ones) She says when ever she’s here she’s happy.

I love that.

I’ve worked everywhere.

I’ve been a million dollar producer at all of those places. Guess what?  Shitty people drove me out of all of those places.

I’ll never be that to anyone.

I’ve left all of that far behind and wherever I work now I will bring good energy to the people around me. I almost feel like I should have worked in the hospitality industry my whole life because I get my energy from people.

And the girl I get the most energy from right now is my Amelia.

I’m so proud of her everyday.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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