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By Jack H. Smith
Jack H. Smith 

Column: Green Hair Didn't Care

 

October 23, 2019



When I was a senior in college, I was taking classes through the University of Wyoming Extension office in my hometown and waiting tables at a local restaurant. I had a steady girlfriend, a great group of friends, was making pretty decent money and probably learning a little bit at the same time.

Despite my happiness with my lot in life, I would always apply when my hometown newspaper had an opening for a reporter. I really wanted the sports opening but would also apply when anything else opened up. I was able to get an interview for the "society page" opening and although I felt I did a good job the publisher told me I might be a little bit too young to take that over as a beat. She was certainly right as I had no business at the time writing about civic clubs and weddings, and I continued to hand people food and margaritas with a smile.

A few months later the daily newspaper had an opening for a reporter and within an hour of reading the ad on the classified page, I was in the office with a resume and writing samples from the college newspaper just as I had a few times before. I would once again get an interview and this time was offered the job.

With a full slate of classes and the 1:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. shift my hands would be full trying to figure all of this out, but I was eager for the opportunity. For some strange reason, I also thought it would be completely fine to keep my job at the Santa Fe Trail. Years later I look back at that as a really stupid idea but at the time I had enough energy to do it.

When I was offered the job, the publisher explained to me about the dress code and that I would have to wear a shirt and tie every day unless I was covering something like the county fair.

That may not sound like a huge deal but for me at the time was very disheartening. My clothes consisted of a bunch of rock band t-shirts and jeans and my hair was always a little bit crazy. I could throw on a polo to wait tables for a few hours but wearing a tie for eight hours a day was not really my cup of tea.

Over the course of the next few months, I would start buying a lot of nice clothes and looked the part the best I could. I still had to have the advertising manager Garry tie all my new ties, but once he did that, I would carefully take them off and never have to worry about it again. I still have some of those ties and am still able to wear them without the trouble of learning a Windsor knot.

I learned so much in those first few months on the job and I was very grateful for the opportunity, but I certainly pushed the dress code to its max.

The publisher would cringe when I walked in with platinum hair and quickly called me into her office where I explained that one of the advertising people had recently done the same to their hair and I didn't think it was fair that I wouldn't be able to. She looked at me puzzled but really couldn't say much other than don't come in with purple hair, which I never did.

After a year at the paper, I found a job out of state and put in my two weeks. Looking back, I probably should have stayed a little bit longer, but then again part of being young is the adventure. I didn't want to be at the same job in the same town for my entire career. I wanted something new.

The last two weeks seemed to last forever, and I just wanted to be done. I was helping to train the new reporter and not really doing much else, so I didn't really see the need to not mess with my hair. I figured I could be a "rocker" reporter for the last few days and it would not matter. With three days left at the job, I walked into the office with green hair. I thought it was cool and edgy but my everyone looked at me like I had just pooped on the floor.

Of course, later that afternoon there was a murder and

Of course, later that afternoon there was a murder and I had to take my green hair into action. The looks I got on the crime scene were crazy, but I did my job and wrote a pretty good story on a terrible event.

An arrest was made that day and the next day I would have to go to court to cover the initial appearance.

A few minutes into the proceedings and before the suspect was brought into the court, the judge kicked me out of the court because of my green hair. I was shocked. After a few minutes the prosecutors told them who I was, and I was let back in, but I still could not believe it.

A few years later I was hired back at the same newspaper, but a part of my hiring was that I would leave my hair alone.

Years later, I'm getting a lot of gray and have to think all that hair dye was a reason why.

 

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