Parted in the Center

Meet Punkin Center's hair apparent.

Like the fashions, the pace in Punkin Center is more serene. Excitement comes in the form of the occasional car accident: "We've had tons," Joni says. "I've been out in the ditch quite a few times holding heads in my hands. Sometimes you just sit here and watch semis catching air." Or power outages: "Once, the power went off for an hour and a half, and I had just wrapped a perm on a client," Joni recalls. "And I told her, 'If the water doesn't come on soon, we're in trouble. But then again, there's always water in the toilet.'" Or personal tragedies: "Never, ever talk to a hairdresser about her divorce when she's cutting your hair," warns Joni, who recently made that mistake with her own stylist.

Clients enjoy their Hair Station sessions so much that some got miffed when Joni added a second chair and an assistant to help handle appointments after her knee surgery.

"They liked it when it was just them and me," Joni explains. "They could come in here and tell me anything, and no one else would hear. And I've heard some juicy secrets, I'll tell you what. But I try not to spread gossip. I really do. It's just that I'm emotionally attached to my clients. I care about them. I really do."

And they care about her, too. When Joni "crashed and burned" with the ACL tear, she received a stack of get-well cards that touches her heart. Still, there are some days when it's just Joni and her blow-dryer, with nothing to do but watch the semis catch air.

"I hate it when it's quiet," she admits. "And believe it or not, sometimes I run out of things to say." But give her a few minutes, Joni adds: "I'll think of something."

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