DS is a cosmetology student. The school is operated through the local high school, so all the students are in the 16-18 year old range. As most cosmo schools do, this one offers services to the public at very reasonable prices because they are performed by students. Unless the client requests a specific student, they are more or less randomly assigned based on who is available.
Yesterday DS was assigned a client who is apparently homeless - she's been in before and the teachers offered that information. She may also have some mental issues, as he said that last time she was in she smelled strongly of urine. He was to give her a shampoo and haircut. He said that her hair and scalp were incredibly filthy; she had thick, waxy dandruff built up very heavily over most of her scalp, and patches of dried skin flaking off several layers thick, although no open sores.. DS had gloves available, and he wore them while shampooing her hair although she gave him an 'odd' look when he put them on. The shampoo apparently did little to make her hair and scalp cleaner; he said that cutting her hair was very unpleasant and he eventually asked a teacher to take over and finish the cut. The teacher berated him later for not showing more compassion, and how he should have finished the service for the client no matter what.
I'm really torn on this. On the one hand, I see the teacher's point: this woman may well be in a situation where she's not able to maintain her personal hygiene and the shampoo that comes with a $2.50 haircut at the school may be the only cleaning she's able to get in a month. On the other...I sure wouldn't want to do it either. And we're talking about cosmetology school, not a medical situation where there is a higher obligation to work with unpleasant clients. I don't plan on saying anything to the teacher; it's more of a personal squick factor (DS is *very* fastidious) than an actual health or safety hazard, but I'm curious as to what other EHellions think.
Question: Did he ask the teacher to take over because the condition of her hair made it difficult for him to cut correctly, or did he ask the teacher to take over because he didn't want
to work on the woman's hair anymore? Your son was aware that the woman was homeless and knew from her previous visit that there were some hygiene issues; if he was not willing to work on the woman's hair, then I think he should have refused before starting the job. If the school has a policy that a student cannot refuse a customer, then he would have to deal with the consequences of refusing (BTW, I think he should check what those policies are).
If, on the other hand, your DS stopped was unsure of how to proceed with the work, then I think the teacher should have worked with him, either by advising him as he worked or by taking over and demonstrating. Did he ask the teacher for advice before asking him to take over? Your DS could have mentioned to the client "Ma'am, I'm going to do a second shampoo for you, but first I'd like to check with my teacher to see if he has any tips for me to make sure I get it good and clean, ok?" Or later, if he had trouble during the cut: "Ma'am, I'd like to get some input from my teacher, if that's ok with you. This is my first time working with hair of this texture [OR: this thick/this length/in this style/etc.--anything plausible that could be interpreted as neutral or positive description] and I want to make sure you get the best cut possible."
If your DS didn't explicitly say that he wanted the teacher to take over because he was repulsed by the woman's hair, then he might be able to salvage the situation by asking the teacher now how he should handle hair that dirty. He already knows about the gloves, but what else would the teacher have done to work on her hair? Is there a different shampoo that would be more appropriate? (Or, since they know at least one regular customers has hair in this state, can they get a more effective shampoo just for this situation?) A different washing technique? Would letting the shampoo sit in the wet hair for a few minutes help at all? Are there different techniques he should use for the actual cut if the hair is still dirty after the wash? Should he mention possible ways to treat the dandruff or should he pretend not to notice unless she asks?
If he discusses the situation from the point of view of customer service (i.e. "I got frustrated because I was not able to give that woman a good haircut; I haven't been taught how to deal with hair in that state and couldn't figure out what I should do.") rather than his own squeamishness, then his teacher might be more forgiving and he might learn some good coping strategies.