I knew it was cold when I left for work this morning, both because the radio said so (-20°C at 8:15) and because it was painful to breathe in through my nose. I also knew it was cold when I opened the front door to get the paper, and Toby, who had been scratching away in a desperate attempt to get out there, actually backed away when he got an full face blast of January morning.
So, when I took my usual walk to Starbucks from the salon first thing, I figured it couldn't be good when I saw that the intersection immediately to the south of us was flooded with water. Any sensible water would be frozen solid at these temperatures, which meant that, unless a small stream had suddenly emerged because of an earthquake or a volcano, there was a water main busted. (Our salon is in an older part of town, and water mains burst with wild abandon at all times of the year, but they are particuarly fond of self-destructing during exceptionally cold weather.) And a water main burst that close to the salon usually means that we will be without water until they get the problem fixed.
Sure enough, about a half an hour later, a particuarly disheveled and highly emotional city worker burst in the door and announced in the most dramatic tones that the water was going to be cut off for 2 to 4 hours. (This actually makes a refreshing change from the usual listless city worker, who casually annouces such things...."Yeah, so, like, your water's gonna be shut off? And, like, we don't know for how long? I guess that's gonna be a problem for you. Have a nice day.") Lack of water IS a significant problem in a hair salon, but this guy nearly cried on our behalf. (Maybe he was thinking of himself and how he was going to have to work with spewing water on the freaking coldest morning of the winter.)
We've had this situation before, and we've always managed. Cutting hair's not a big deal; usually you can just use the spray bottle to get the client's hair wet. With chemical work, it's a little different; you want to get stuff off reasonably quickly. I had one client in my chair, who had come from out of town to get her hair done...she was willing to take the chance, and lo and behold, we had water when it was time to take out her highlights. My next client wasn't so lucky, but she was one of the stylist's sisters, and like all family members of hairdressers, has learned to roll with the punches and take what comes her way. I ended washing her hair with the water we had stockpiled earlier in the day....a messy business, but effective enough. By the time we were putting on the conditioner, the water had come back on. She was a good sport though; I think she was game to see if we could do the whole shebang with bottles and buckets. (We did call the other salons in the area and asked if we could bring our clients down to them, and they were all accomodating, but I was loathe to ask a client with a wet head to saunter down the street in sub-arctic temperatures.)
It livened up an otherwise mundane day, trying to figure out how to solve the problem and still get our work done. I'm just glad I'm not the guy who had to actually fix the water main.