You Might Be Somebody's Only Angel of the Day

By David Wagner

Back in 1986, I was traveling around the country performing at hairstyling shows for Aveda. At a show in Dallas, I was cutting hair and bantering with the audience. I remember saying, “Imagine if we brought the intention of making our clients’ day to work every day, how much fun we’d have.” I hadn’t planned to say that, it was completely spontaneous.

That night, on the flight home, I sat next to a very conservative businessman in first class. There I was with my big rock ’n’ roll hair and leather pants. I looked like the lead singer from REO Speedwagon. This businessman looked at me and said, “What do you do?” I said, “I’m a Daymaker.” He said, “You’re a what?” I said, “I’m a Daymaker.” He said, “What in the world is a Daymaker?” I said, “I make people’s day.”

That’s how I coined the term — it just came out in the conversation. I liked it so much that I tossed out my business cards the next day and ordered new ones with “Daymaker” under my name instead of “Stylist.” I started passing them out to customers and prospects, and people really got a kick out of it. So that’s how it started out, as a lark.

Six months later, I was working in my salon when a regular customer came in to get her hair styled. I was surprised to see her since it was right in the middle of her five-week period between haircuts. I figured she must have an important social engagement that evening since she asked for her hair to be styled instead of just cut. “No, I don’t have anything special going on,” she told me. “I just want to look and feel good tonight.”

Luckily, I was able to fit her in. I was in a great mood that day and I was really “on.” I gave her a great scalp massage and shampoo like I always did, and then styled her hair. We had a blast the whole time. We laughed and joked and entertained each other. When she left, she gave me a big hug that lasted just a little bit longer than usual.

Two days later I got a letter from her. When I started reading it, I froze. She said she had planned to commit suicide that day, that she had come in to get her hair styled so it would look good for her funeral. She said she had changed her mind during her appointment, that I had helped her realize that her life could be better. She had gone home and called her sister to tell her what she was going through, and her sister had taken her to the hospital.

I was stunned. If you had lined up a hundred of my clients and asked me to choose the one who was considering taking her own life, she would have been at the end of the list. She was gregarious, she was outgoing, she seemed successful. I had no idea that she was in such a dark place. I was glad, and humbled, to have made such a difference, yet I also felt a little uneasy. I wondered what would have happened had I been upset or distracted when she had come in and I had just gone through the motions of cutting her hair.

That day, I began to feel an enormous sense of responsibility. How many of the ten to fifteen clients I saw every day might be in a personal crisis and in need of a little extra kindness and attention? Even if it was just one person a week, I realized what a big difference I could make. I resolved then and there to treat every customer like I had treated that woman.

Today, whenever I catch myself thinking only of my own agenda, I go back to the moment when I opened that letter. And I remind myself that days are made of moments, and how I choose to be in those moments is what’s going to determine the quality of my day, which in turn can affect the quality of someone else’s day. What it all comes down to is this: If you’re going to be there, be there. You might be somebody’s only angel of the day and you can’t take that for granted.

David Wagner, an internationally acclaimed hairstylist, entrepreneur, and “Daymaker,” is the owner of Juut Salonspas, the original Aveda salons. His bestselling book, Life as a Daymaker: How to Change the World Simply by Making Someone’s Day, is generating a worldwide kindness movement. David travels internationally speaking to businesses, schools, and organizations to share the Daymaker Movement. Click here to visit the Daymaker Movement website.

This story appears in Phil Bolsta’s book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. To order your copy, click here.


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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 1: Winter of Wellness