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The Nail Experience

It’s a Monday afternoon, and I’ve decided I deserve a treat. How friendly of me. Well done, self.

This “treat” is going to come in the form of a renewal of my toenail shellac. I walk purposefully through the mall and stand, paradoxical to my walk over, awkwardly in the shop entrance.
“Kai help yooh!” The lady says at me.
“Oh, I’d like my toes shellacked please.”
“Have seat.” She flicks her head in the direction of five wheelie chairs and four massage chairs. Perplexed, I wonder where she actually wants me to go. I take a seat three chairs away from the head-flicker.
“Choose colour.” I am dealt two plastic containers with a million colours on painted plastic nails. After much deliberation, (would I dare to have blue again?) I have decided on a turquoise; number 101. The usual routine transpires…envelope the nails in acetone saturated cotton buds and aluminium foil those bad boys until the shellac is curling off. After five minutes, my lady comes over and proceeds to unwrap and grind my previous polish away with a machine that I feel, if I make any sudden movements, will take the skin off my foot. By this stage, she has obviously examined my toes and decided that I need a pedicure.
“You want pedicure?” I am too afraid to say no.
“Um…yes. Yes I do need a pedicure, actually.” So easily persuaded, I amble over to the aforementioned massage chairs. Naturally, I sit down. I get comfortable, and then have to relocate; my chair is broken. Repositioning complete, I settle in for the pedicure. At this time, I whip out my laptop with the very responsible aim at getting some reports written (“do all the things!”). Unfortunately, I am appropriately pre-occupied by the Disney Classics piano soundtrack playing, and continually catch myself smiling obtusely as my back is pummelled by the chair. Inherently, I wonder if the assault this chair is hurling is going to cause the loss of skin and/or the entire foot in front of me. It doesn’t. I survive.

I sit, quietly. I ponder on the likeliness of my lady enjoying her job. It seems always to feel, like in fact; it is unmistakeably rude that I have come here. I don’t just mean me, personally. I think the ladies that work in these nail shops, hate us all. The only communication exchanged between us is through the selection of polish colour, the ankle-tap that occurs each time she needs the other foot, and the thank you that I have no doubt, she sees as blithe and insincere. I wonder what she is thinking, as a corporately dressed, alleged professional sits in front of her, her supposedly judging gaze on the woman who is gainfully addressing the cuticles and callouses of her feet. I can confidently say I speak on behalf of nail-shop clientele about tending to feel especially categorised when the language barrier takes hold. A quick exchange of something foreign (to me) between the women forces The Ego to make hostile assumptions…what could they possibly be saying about me?

Of course, they probably aren’t talking about me at all. And really, it’s characteristic of me (all of us, really) to believe that I’ve made a big enough impression on these people that they’d have to have a discussion about me. There goes The Ego, again.

Recently, I have struck up a bond with my very local salon. I was impressed, when upon sitting down to have the toes re-done, the owner wanted to do my hands for free. She struck up a conversation and was extremely pleasant to chat with. Since then, I am loyal to her services. No more free cosmetic treatments, but I leave each time feeling like it was. It’s a wonder what a good attitude and a smile can do.

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

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