Monday, May 4, 2009

Pedi-Cured

My sister Robin and I look a lot alike, but we live very different lives. Even when we're in the same place at the same time, doing the exact same thing, we end up with very different experiences.

It was 1986, and my eldest sister, Carla, was getting her MBA from Jacksonville U, so three of us sisters went to Florida to whoop and holler as she got her diploma.

On the day before the graduation, Robin got the idea that we should make a sisterly day of it by going to a spa and getting our nails done. Lelane and Carla agreed. As a pedicure virgin, I wasn't so sure.

"I can't believe you've never had one," Robin said. "You have to try it, your feet will be gorgeous."

So we descended on Carla's local salon/spa. Carla got the works -- color, cut, manicure, pedicure -- while the rest of us settled for a mani-pedi.

My nail tech, a Vietnamese woman of mature years, smiled and said hello as I climbed into her chair and sank my feet into the bath of warm water. It was the last time that afternoon that either of us would widen our lips to express pleasure.

During the remainder of the session, she shared with me what a miserable life she had. Giving pedicures made her hands and arms ache. At night, the pain kept her awake. During the long, long hours of the day as she slaved over smelly feet, she wanted to break down and weep.

With each stroke of her emery board, I felt less like a woman pampering herself with her first pedicure, and more like an evil exploiter of underpaid immigrant labor.

Finally, as she applied a coat of pearlescent polish, Granny Sunshine made her closing statement: if she'd known what her life was going to be like in America, she would never have left Vietnam.

This was a country which, just that year, would finally begin to recover from the devastation of a multi-decade, multi-national war. Where starvation was a common cause of death, but only for those who survived the dengue fever.

I stuffed my newly-gorgeous feet into my tennis shoes, gave her a gigantic tip, and got the hell out of there.

As we walked to the car, Robin preened her pretty red toenails in her adorable little sandals.

"See?" she said. "Wasn't that incredible?"

It certainly was.

32 comments:

Dedene said...

Jeez, Jeanne, leave it to you to get a day in paradise turned into a day in Vietnamese hell.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I think this could only happen to you! You must've looked like you cared :p

K said...

What a rough first pedi experience.

I sometimes wonder about what it must be like to be a nail tech, but I've never had anyone dish the dirt.

Have a great week.

Dave King said...

My Gran would have said: Never mind, you'll get your reward in heaven.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

Too Funny!!! I braved one of those salons a few times in LA, After a few times I was sure some of the brains that worked there had succumbed to the fumes and I didn't want to join that club. At the time, I thought my brain had made it out of the 70's intact.

Lilly said...

You do care and that is what makes you special.

Truth is, she may have very well been doing the exact same thing in Vietnam these days given its now a big tourist destination.

smiles4u said...

LOL! This is the kind of thing that happens to me. I can laugh because it's you this time and not me. I have never had a pedicure nor a manicure but I could so see this happening to me, should I decide to pamper myself.

darsden said...

She worked you over didn't she!! You left a hugh tip...I would have left a big tongue lashing..LOL I went once they spoke in there language...I could tell by the looks they were talking about my mother and me...we never went back and HELL no they didn't get a tip. I paid enough just to be yacked about. We never went back to them.
If you don't like our country and our culture get the F**k Out!! ooh did I say that out loud..sorry... NOT.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Ditto darsden- that's exactly what I was thinking! This lady knew how to work it for that huge tip!!

flydragon said...

I'm thinking that sob story milker was laughing all the way to the bank:)

buffalodick said...

By God, you are a great writer.. you conveyed the experience and showed your compassion in a concise, yet touching way. Save this, and look upon it when you need inspiration..

Chef E said...

I agree with Buff on this! Now I am thinking...Pedi- To be or not to be (today, yikes) :)

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

gosh! Usually they're all sunny and WANT you to come back!! You just must have picked the wrong day, wrong time!
But still weren't your feet looking great?!

lizspin said...

I'm like that with pedicures also. . . I don't quite get the hype.

Mark said...

Wow, what an experience. Very sad!

Jan said...

I must confess that I never have had the pleasure of a pedicure. Just don't think I want someone messing with my feet. Call me strange.

anymommy said...

And yeah, that's enough to put you off pedicures for life. I still love them, but mine have never come with a side of history and a lesson in the world's exploitation of third world women!

Comedy Goddess said...

I have been a licensed massage therapist since '94 and my first rule for myself is to never talk about myself.

That's another reason why I blog.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Man, when I get my nails done, they're always trying to push the pedicures on me. I always decline because of the money. Now I'll decline because of the guilt!

Steven G said...

I don't want to step on any toes, or sound petty and corny, but I gotta say....when the game is afoot, Jeanne always steps up to the plate and kicks ass! I have to take a stand here, at the risk of putting my foot in my mouth and sounding like a heel, but I must say her soulful story is undefeated. J can talk the talk and walk the walk....barefooted. No shit, Sherlock!

Frogs in my formula said...

See, this is EXACTLY why I will never get a pedicure. I'll purdy up my own damn feet.

bernthis said...

in L.A. nobody even speaks English never mind well enough to make you feel like a piece of shit. What a story.

The gals at my nail place are so kind and terrific. Wow, bad day for you.

CDB said...

Ooh wow. Wow. I have a local nail 'salon' which I frequent (ahem, shaggy brows, not pedicures) and have gotten to know the ladies fairly well. Some of the patrons do not treat them with respect, but when they are invited into conversation, they are very happy to chat and share. And seem happy to be there.

I'll have to dig a little deeper here.

CarrieAnn said...

That is exactly why I will never have a pedicure! And b/c my nickname is Long Toe Jo. No nail tech should ever have to deal with that.

That video was hilarious!

Chaka said...

That's a sad yet funny story. That's like going to get a massage and feeling depressed and guilty when you leave. I have always wondered why so many Asian women work in the toenail industry. Not to make generalizations, but they are the only ones I ever see when I walk past a pedicure operation.

ladyfi said...

Aw - now you've put me off every having a pedicure! ;-)

Geanina Codita said...

Many Greetings from Romania. You have a very nice blog with lot of color and text that you represent. See you soon!
http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=ro&ie=UTF-8&u=www.geaninacodita.blogspot.com&sl=ro&tl=en&history_state0=ro%7Cen%7CMulte%2520salutari%2520din%2520Romania.%2520Ai%2520un%2520blog%2520foarte%2520frumos%2520cu%2520multa%2520culoare%2520si%2520text%2520care%2520te%2520reprezinta.%2520Pe%2520cur%25C3%25A2nd%21%250D%250A

Jill said...

Now I know why I don't do the mani-pedi thing. No, not really. Just not that type person. Don't let the sob story get you. Related to many women who do/did that for a living. My daughter in law begs to give me pedicures all the time, can't be all that horrible? I just can't fathom others touching my feet. :)

Mad Texter said...

Oh my goodness! Anjelah Johnson is too funny. My friend, Vida, my beautiful friend of Vietnamese decent, introduced me to AJ's humor.

I, too, used to feel bad about hard labor jobs when I get my shoes polished at the shoe shine stand, because I thought I was enjoying the luxury of having my shoes shined at the drudgery of a poor immigrant.

I explained this to a friend of mine and he said, somebody has to do the job, and if people didn't get their shoes shined, then there wouldn't be shoe shine jobs available.

I did appreciate his view of the situation, but it still bothered me nontheless.

And man, what a great shoe shine!

Reminds of the saying, "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

mo.stoneskin said...

That's crazy. I mean, I'm a pedicure virgin (thank God, I'm a man so I should be right?!), but I had no idea, wouldn't even have thought.

♥ Braja said...

I can't help but think that this woman knows not the first thing about service...I'm sorry, but ingratitude and complaining from people in a service industry takes me to one conclusion: they shouldn't be in it. No doubt she was sad and angry at having to leave her home country, but her bewildered and confused mind is hanging onto memories of a "wonderful place" that did not exist for a long, long time. She's failed to learn gratitude...

Steven G said...

Sometimes I think you sit inside your spaceship, review the collected data from all of your fans, go into a hypnotic trance somewhere about 38,000 miles up, drudge up these detailed memories as you sleep/float, and throw them onto the table like dice to see if it's snake eyes or seven come eleven. Amazing how you get us patients to sit up, wanting more apple sauce. Amazing!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails