Shampoo in The Twilight Zone


Here’s a fun story to take your minds off Isis and daily crises in world affairs; Trump vs. Cruz, Hillary vs. Bernie ; the plummeting Dow Jones Index, or any other serious subject that may be keeping you awake at night.

Fifty years ago, Rod Serling produced a fascinating science fiction TV series, “The Twilight Zone”. Each story was unique, creating a setting where a person would find that events in familiar surroundings no longer made sense. There were no aliens appearing as strange green creatures similar to comic book caricatures. The language was understandable when people spoke to each other. What was eerie in each intriguing story was the unfolding of the plot. It did not make sense to the puzzled viewer. The mystery continued to build until the conclusion of the hour.

Last week, I felt I was in one of Rod Serling’s television programs. Here is the beginning of the story. We live in Linwood, a residential New Jersey community. Our daughter Faith, while visiting us from Philadelphia, decided to have her hair cut at a local beauty parlor before returning home in the afternoon. She used our telephone book to locate one about ten minutes away on Tilton Road, a major business artery with malls and a variety of shops and fast food restaurants along a two mile strip. She called early and made an appointment for ten o’clock. Faith was very happy with the result and recommended the operator, Joanne. That was Thursday.

On Friday, I called my regular beauty parlor and discovered my operator was unavailable — possibly for some time due to a family emergency. She has been washing and cutting my hair for decades. She is an artist with a pair of scissors. I brush and style my own hair after a shampoo. Just give me a wall mirror, the right kind of brush and some hair spray and Voila! With the perfect short hair cut, the style always falls into place. Along with what I call natural ‘ frosting‘ in front , (no more cap or tin foil) I’m on my way.

I decided to call Faith’s beauty parlor, only ten minutes away, and make an appointment with Joanne for my shampoo. She answered the call and was available at four that afternoon. I had the address of the beauty parlor and thought I knew the small strip mall where it was located. When I pulled in to park, I could see through the broad glass windows that it was large, modern and impressive. Black and chrome furniture, many stations, large plants in the inviting décor. I entered and went over to the curved counter where a seated receptionist was on the telephone. Several operators in uniforms were seated nearby. Other operators were busy with customers at their stations. I waited until the receptionist was free. It was exactly four o’clock.

Here’s the conversation that ensued– verbatim:
“Hi, I’m Joyce Anderson for the four o’clock appointment with Joanne.” With a very puzzled look, the receptionist said, “I’m sorry we don’t have an operator named Joanne.” I took a breath and said, “My daughter, Faith Anderson, was here yesterday for her hair cut and Joanne was her operator.” She looked at her records for Thursday, and said, “What did you say your daughter’s name is and how do you spell it?” I stayed calm and said, “Faith Anderson.“ She asked me to spell the last name. I did, “A-n-d-e-r-s-o-n” By now, the two seated operators had heard this conversation and joined her. They were all pleasant but insisted there was no Joanne at the shop.

I decided to go to ‘plan B’ as Faith would say. I asked if there was an operator who could shampoo my hair. I had a small bottle of Johnson’s baby shampoo with me. The receptionist then arranged for someone to show me where I could hang up my winter jacket and a tall young man named Shaun appeared who would shampoo my hair. He was experienced and very accommodating. (I think they had decided that I was a confused lady and wanted to move me along as quickly as possible.) While Shaun washed my hair, I told him of the mix-up and I asked him about his career. He had 14 years experience and a most polite and professional manner. He was a winner.

At his station, there was a large mirror. He supplied me with dry towels, the type of brush I use and hair spray. In fifteen minutes, my hair was back in the style I prefer. When I asked about the cost, he replied with a smile. “It’s on me.” “Absolutely not!” I answered and gave him a five dollar tip. I also gave him my card with my website and recommended he read my blogs. He gave me his card, and I may be seeing him in the days ahead.

Postscript: When we drove to the local diner that evening, we drove slowly along Tilton Road and found the beauty shop Faith had gone to in a tiny mall with an odd number address on the even side of Tilton Road! A complete mix-up. I still had the phone number and called later to explain to the owner why I hadn’t kept the four o’clock appointment with Joanne. Sorry, Joanne. I thought I knew where the beauty parlor was. End of “Twilight Zone” story.

President Obama Acts on Gun Violence


After the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012,
Barack Obama vowed to seek new gun laws from Congress that would secure background checks for all firearms purchased. Despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans, including gun owners, approved of stronger background checks, his high profile efforts failed in the months that followed. The National Rifle Association, N.R.A., exerted maximum lobbying pressure on members of both houses of Congress. Obama called the failure “ a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

It is now 2016 : Eighty six men, women and children die from gunshot wounds every day in the United States . This number includes homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. Mass murders occur on a regular basis throughout the country in schools, government and work settings. Certain states are increasing their open- carry laws that make guns more visible in restaurants, on streets and college campuses. The N.R.A. and other Second amendment activists are at odds with the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence. The organization is named for James Brady who was crippled by the gunfire from the assassin who shot President Reagan.

Obama has decided to use his executive powers to enforce gun laws already on the books, and to keep guns from people likely to use them in crimes. This was announced at the White House on Tuesday, January 5. An important action will be to require more gun sellers to have a federal license and to perform a background check for every purchase. There are at present unlicensed sellers, who may be a small fraction of tens of thousands already following the rules. However, a study by the advocacy group, Everyone for Gun Safety, revealed that the unlicensed dealers account for the largest percentage of guns sold. Thus, they are more likely to appeal to criminals and others hiding from authorities. Current law will be clarified to discover how many guns these unlicensed dealers sell, how quickly they resell them in their original packaging, and their profit.

Another important action will be to improve the functioning of the federal background- check data base in effect since 1998. This is an essential tool that has stopped millions of sales of weapons to people whose names appear on the prohibited list. The Federal Bureau of Investigation , F.B.I., will notify state and local authorities whenever a prohibited person attempts to buy a gun and is rejected. In Virginia, follow-up of those denied a gun after a background check have led to over 14,000 arrests.

Obama is also sending a budget proposal that calls for money for 200 new agents and investigators in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives . They will help enforce existing gun laws ; requiring dealers to notify authorities when guns are lost or stolen; increasing law enforcement access to mental health records; and providing funding for research in gun safety technology.

The President knew his actions to reduce gun violence would provoke a heated election year debate and it certainly did explode rapidly. News of the executive orders leaked and on Sunday, January 3, Donald Trump said on CBS’s “Face The Nation”, “I don’t like anything having to do with changing the Second Amendment.” Jeb Bush on “Fox News Sunday” warned that “Mr. Obama’s first impulse is always to take rights away from law-abiding citizens.” Chris Christie also on “Fox News” dismissed the executive orders as “illegal” , calling Obama “a petulant child’, a “king’ and a “dictator”. In contrast, the Brady campaign said on Sunday that “ history will be made in the East Room of the White House tomorrow.” It is also important to note that Hillary Clinton, the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for President, has been stressing the need for more gun control legislation as a key part of her campaign policies and programs. Bernie Sanders has joined her in the call for improved background checks tio reduce gun violence as a must in his campaign speeches.

On Monday, January 4, Obama told reporters after a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, that his actions were well within his legal authority. Jennifer Baker with the N.R.A. lobbying arm , commented, “This is it, really? This is what they’ve been hyping for how long now? … They’re not really doing anything.” Representative Mike Thompson , Democrat of California and chairman of the gun control caucus in the House disagreed. He praised the president for taking action saying, “ I think he’s done all he can do under his authority.” He then added, “What really needs to be done. The laws must be changed. There needs to be a law that says, you buy a gun, you get a background check.”

Eighteen states have passed universal background check laws with teeth in them. In those states, there has been a large decline in gun deaths. Congress needs to pass a universal background check law nation wide. When members of Congress , Republicans and Democrats, reject the pressure from N.R.A. lobbyists, that will come to pass and gun violence in this nation will drop.