Abdel Lahlou meets me on the ground floor of the European Parliament. Located next to dozens of elevators, stairs and security gates one can find the private hair salon “Guy Alexandre”. If one overlooks the unusual location, the salon seems quite normal. However, it may differ from other hair salons due to its customers, which include high-ranking politicians.
Yet not only Members of the Parliament visit the hairdresser in the building, numerous employees are also customers. If the day is once again turning out to be longer than expected a hairdresser in the workplace is a blessing. Often the working hours in the office from a Member of Parliament overlap with the opening hours of conventional hairdressers. With the hair salon on site, an appointment can be arranged during lunch break and the distance from the desk to the hairdresser’s chair is not too far.
Abdel has been welcoming clients to the salon “Guy Alexandre” with great passion for five years. But he was already working as a hairdresser before that – for 23 years in total to be precise – first in Dubai and, as life would have it, now in Belgium. In addition to that, this enthusiastic man of Moroccan origin is a make-up artist und conjures up the most elegant updos.
To be a hairdresser has always been his dream, says Abdel. You can literally feel the passion behind these words. “Every day is a big day for me. I love my job, it is the most beautiful thing in the world!”, he raves.
What certainly seems rather unusual about Abdel, is that he does not live out his professional dream of being a hairdresser in a salon in the city, but in the European Parliament, the heart of Europe.
When asked whether there were any special professional requirements or high hurdles that he had to pass in order to work in the Parliament, he shakes his head. “No, you can’t say that.”, he replies. According to Abdel, everyone was very nice and things were kept uncomplicated. Despite the obviously different local circumstances, Abdel tells me that it makes no difference to him, whether he works here in the Parliament or at a normal salon. “Customers are customers!”, he says. It does not matter to him whether someone is a minister or an employee, everyone is incredibly polite and likeable. “The relationships are the same.”, affirms Abdel. “Respect is the basis!”
This is also how he handles communication with customers: “At the hairdresser’s, the contact with customers is very close.”, he says. “So, you must know the limits. I never talk about politics with clients because I am a hairdresser and a make-up artist. We talk about fashion, food or travel – about general things, not about private matters.” For Abdel this is a question of respect. Talking about normal, everyday topics is the way to go, not about work. While doing so it does not matter who the client is.
In response to the question what the most unusual haircut was that a customer from the Parliament has ever asked for, Abdel smiles to himself. “That does not happen in the Parliament.”, he says. “It’s more traditional here. Stars have unusual wishes, not people working seriously in politics.”
Nevertheless, he is more than happy with his job. “I give my best when I see my clients. That’s the most beautiful thing in the world!”, he says with a smile on his face and concludes: “The feeling with my customers is incredibly important to me.”
It was a pleasure to learn more about Abdel’s work. If you happen to drop by the European Parliament and have been wanting to have your hair done by someone who is really passionate about his job, stop by “Guy Alexandre” and ask for Abdel Lahlou.