I was staying with my Aunt over the summer since my parents were off in Europe somewhere. I was included in their plans initially, but I begged off since touring museums and landmarks was not really my thing. Aunt Reba lived not too far from our home, that meant I could still take a couple of courses at the local junior college during the summer. I was trying to get all of my prerequisite courses handled, thus allowing me more time to devote to the courses I knew I would have more trouble with.
At the moment I saw myself being a business owner, hoping to find a niche market somewhere that I could exploit. In fact Reba was my inspiration since she had started her own internet business a few years ago and was doing quite well. She had stressed that I needed a well rounded education, since she had had to fall back on her schooling quite often as she struggled to get her business producing a profit. I knew I would have the most problem with anything in the math category, since me and math did not get along at all.
I had signed up for my classes I wanted and had a week to go before the classes actually started. My Aunt was trying to show me a few things on her website that afternoon, as she walked me through how to process an order. I had way too many questions, as she giggled often on some of the things I asked her about. Finally in desperation she suggested that I take a couple of her orders and process them as I saw fit. If I managed to get them handled in a satisfactory manner, she will let me help her the rest of the summer. If I fouled things up or made the customer upset I would have to apologize to the customer and refund their purchase, while still shipping their order to them.
Three foul-ups without learning the proper way to do things and she gets to dole out a penance for me, one that will help me focus on the proper way to handle a customer. I agreed way too fast, my youthful enthusiasm ready to conquer the world, her business just the first step in that regard.
My Aunt sells beauty products, mainly cosmetics and nail polish. The brands she carries are not the usual you find locally, all premium brands from out of the country. The prices reflect this but once her customers try the product they keep coming back.
I selected my first order to process that afternoon, gathered up the items the customer ordered and prepared the order to ship. I did remember to send the order confirmation but I had already sent the this order has shipped email, so although it was handled but not in the proper order. I did get an email back from the customer wanting to know if the computer had fouled up or was it a employee problem. I debated replying to her email and admitting guilt, but still was unsure so I did nothing.
The second order I tried to handle had more problems that needed to be solved. The color of nail polish she had ordered was not available at the moment, so I picked the next closest color and packed it in the shipping carton. The same for a moisturizer cream from France. In this case I picked a replacement, the price more than the original one ordered but from a different manufacturer. Sent the proper emails, but not anything about the changes that I had made to the order. Then the email saying it was shipped. In this case the order was to be sent next day air, so the customer would get it tomorrow.
I did two more orders that afternoon, everything was in stock and I remembered to send the appropriate emails in the proper order. The next morning when I came to her offices to help with the orders, she handed me an email complaining about the substitutions that I had made and asking for a total refund on her order. I debated on what to do but decided to call the customer, apologizing for my actions, telling her to keep all of the merchandise and as soon as the items she wanted returned to stock I would send her the items free of charge. In the mean time I would refund her entire purchase price immediately. This apparently appeased her, so I had not loss my Aunt a customer. My Aunt never said a word to me about my foul-ups although I am sure she was aware of both.
I did manage to get through the rest of the day without incident. Still unsure of remembering the proper way to handle things, maybe more a matter of luck than a knowledge of what to do. Then we come to my disastrous day. I had to answer the phone that morning since my Aunt was on the other line. The customer was upset because an item she had used in the past is no longer available. I made sure to look it up to make sure it is not available then suggested that the customer find another item to substitute. I was probably a little to sharp with her, telling her it is not my fault if the item is not longer made. Well that was not what she wanted to hear and hung up on me.
I knew when we had another phone call a few minutes later it was the same lady wanting to talk to the owner. I stayed to the side as my Aunt talked to her for over thirty minutes. My Aunt suggested some things to replace the item, then told the lady she used them herself and was quite pleased. It was a couple of hours later when things calmed down enough for my Aunt to mention the phone call and how she had handled it. I could not look at her, I knew she was right, but at the time this was the only way I thought of handling the problem.
Not surprisingly I was told I have an appointment in the morning at her beauty salon for my penance, so plan on attending and accepting your fate. I helped around the place for the rest of the afternoon, straightening and sweeping up, but did not touch any more orders. I wonder what is in store for me tomorrow, somehow I couldn’t see how a beauty salon would have anything to do with my penance for not paying attention. I now realize that my problem was not paying attention. I remembered my Aunt talking about most of this when she was going over things, but I just assumed that I knew better and acted without thinking.
The salon was only a few blocks away, so I could walk there after I got dressed and ready for work. I did manage to get to the salon for my nine A.M. appointment and was taken to a room at the back of the salon. Jennifer would be my technician today, and she told me I would be here for about two hours. She left to get her things and returned setting a large tray on the table between us. My right hand was placed in a bowl of water, that probably had something added to it, since it was slightly oily. Seeing the nail polish on the tray, I now knew what I would be receiving as my penance. She dug some pieces of nails out of a container on her tray, matching each to one of my fingers. Then I remembered my Mom getting extensions on her nails before her trip to Europe, apparently I was going to share in that fate.
I was mesmerized as Jennifer worked on my nails, first removing the cuticle, then filing the nail into a neat oval. I had let my nails grow recently, now each nail a quarter of an inch past my fingertip. Jennifer said that was good, more nail for the adhesive to attach to, guaranteeing a longer lasting nail extension. I am not sure that was the effect I had desired when I let my nails grow out. The extensions changed the look of my nails from plain to exotic. The length of the extensions made my fingers look more feminine as they now seemed to be thinner and delicate. The extension now extending my nails three quarters of an inch past my finger tip. Numerous coats of nail polish were applied, including a base coat, three coats of color and a sealer to protect the nail polish and add extra shine to the nails.
I wondered about how I was going to handle having long exotic nails, since I seldom left my Aunt’s place I should receive very little attention or ridicule. Jennifer made sure I knew all about my nails. They were almost indestructible, the color set under the sealer so that another visit to the salon would be necessary to remove the color. The nails couldn’t be cut by any scissors or clippers so I needn’t worry about them getting damaged.
She suggested that I let out my ponytail giving me a more androgynous look. She was doing so as she made the suggestion. The scrunchie I had used to make the ponytail now placed on my wrist. I doubted with the long nails I would be able to get it back into a ponytail. I think most of this was due to my Aunt’s intervention, so I kept quiet.
The bill had already been paid so I left the salon and made my way back to the house. Well the trip back was nothing like the trip to the salon, as I had all kinds of interest in me and especially my hands. It seemed they were coming out of everywhere as I tried to make my way home. One young man that was walking into town stopped, complimenting me on my nails wanting to know my name and if I was new around here. I ignored him and kept going hoping he would leave me alone. As I walked on he yelled his name was Brent and he hoped to see me again soon.
When I got to my Aunt’s she met me on the porch, handed me twenty dollars and asked me to walk down to the burger barn and get us some fries and burgers for lunch. I was kind of hungry so I started that way until I figured out what she was doing. Away from the house, with attention getting nails I was sure to be talked to and chatted up. I manged the burger barn, but once inside their lobby I was chatted up four times, each male wanting to know if I was new around here and if I had a name. Up at the cashier the gal expressed her love for my nails wanting to know where I had them done at and how much they cost. Never once was I perceived as anything but a female.
When my Aunt had given me the money for the food I just kept it in the palm of my hand. Once I had paid for the burgers I had a handful of change and two bags of food to carry, so I tried to get the change into my jeans pocket. Easier said then done, as some of the change dropped out of my hand as I tried to get it into my pocket, the nails making life very difficult. Of course, I now had male help. Both guys trying to help me pick up the change. I tried to pick up the coins myself, but the nails prevented that action. Then I had the guys handing me the coins, their touch of my hands as they gave me the coins, lingering more than I would have liked.
I thanked them for their help and made a quick exit, having to step around the corner of the building to lose them since they both came out into the parking lot to see where I had gone. All of this because of these damn nails. I walked back home as fast as my feet would carry me, wanting to escape all the attention I was receiving. So as I approach my Aunt’s home who do I see sitting on the front porch, yep there she was a bigger smirk not possible on her face. Her first words did you have any trouble dear. I shot her a nasty look, but my hunger won out, so I carried the food to the kitchen and laid it out on her serving counter.
After we had eaten I did accuse her of being so wicked, knowing full well how the nails are going to affect me, both now and into the future. A huge smile appeared on her face, but I doubt you will forget or ignore me when I am trying to teach you something. I started to ask how long the nails had to be on my fingers, but I already knew the answer so I swallowed and ignored the thought.
Classes started a few days later, and yes I attended them with the long nails, although I did find some more androgynous looking clothes to wear and kept my hair loose on my back and shoulders. I also had quite a bit of male attention for the first week or two. Eventually they left me somewhat alone figuring I was a lezzy since I had no interest in them.
My Aunt didn’t say much about my clothes or what I was doing but when I started borrowing some of her sample cosmetics and showed up for meals with lipstick or mascara on she asked if I was joining the winning side. I had to think for a minute or two as to what she was asking, but instead of answering her I just smiled and walked off my butt wiggling due to my new high heels that I bought just yesterday.
I did pay attention and was now helping her with her orders when I was not in class. I got paid for the effort, all of that money going for new clothes for me. Several weeks later I packed up all of my male clothes, calling Goodwill to come and pick them up. I also had a better idea of what type of business I wanted to start, even doing the preliminary research on sources for the product and selling prices.
I managed to get my student ID changed, the name Tess the name I wanted to use. No need for a driver’s license yet, since any place I might have to visit or buy from was within walking distance or a short bus ride. It was nearing the end of summer and the supposed arrival of my parents back from Europe. I had talked to Mom a couple of times by phone but nothing was discussed about their plans once back home.
On the last day of summer term my Aunt cornered me and wanted to know what I was going to do next. I looked at her not understanding what she was asking, I presumed with my parents back home I will be living with them providing they can accept me as a daughter. She asked if I had done all my research and was ready to start my business. I stared at her, I had not told her anything about what I was planning wondering how she found out and how much she knows.
“Don’t look so surprised, I have my ways, so answer my question.”
“Yes as soon as I can come up with the money I am ready to stick my foot in the water.”
“They say it is always wise to pay your fortune forward, so I am loaning you the money to start your business. One big stipulation though, the money is for Tess and she has to maintain her long elegant nails for the entire time she is developing her business. No excuses allowed.
Incidentally your Mother can’t wait to meet her daughter, the pictures I have sent her only making her more anxious to meet you. Now here is a check for what you need, and I will take you to the bank to open a business account. Fix your lipstick and lets go. You have lots of work to do.
Just remember to keep your focus on the nails, they got you this far I am sure they will help you the rest of the way. I am pleased at what you have accomplished and learned. Now give me a hug we have things to do and places to go.
Story Complete For Now
© 2016 thru 2021 Fran Cesca Walker