After the New York Times exposé on nail salons in New York I’ve been wary of where I decide to get my brows shaped and my nails painted. I’ve never been a fan of the overtly cheap places as they always seem to skimp on top coat and the horror stories of fungus after pedicures has made me realize that most of the time you get what you pay for. I hope that the spa near my office where I regularly get my brows done is reputable, it at least seems on the outside to be well kept and ventilated enough. So when I have a special event (tomorrow I’m going to a Hustle Summit networking event, shout out!) I like to go there for the flawless nails needed for hand-shaking and schmoozing while artfully holding a cocktail.
For me, manicures are less of a necessity and more of a treat. I like doing home-spa days for myself and I have an impressive Essie collection. Sometimes time takes precedent when I’m stressed and I know that if I get home and start painting I will inevitably smudge my hard work by trying to open a package of goat cheese. I understand why busy working ladies in appearance-centric industries (which is really all industries for women) need to squeeze in some upkeep during their lunch hours.
What I don’t understand, however, is the need to be on the phone whilst getting a manicure. I understand as a customer paying for a service you are “always right” according to most business standards but it doesn’t make it not rude. Sometimes I’m entertained by other people’s one sided conversations but mostly it’s annoying. I get it, you’re busy, but 99% of the time the calls are totally obnoxious and unnecessary.
How many opportunities do people get nowadays to simply sit there and stare into space while being quiet? No longer on the train, there’s music and cell phone apps to fill up that time. Sitting alone at home in bed is off the table too now that it’s almost a requirement to fall asleep with a laptop burning a hole in your uterus after 8 hours of streaming. Some people try and make conversation with their manicurist which can work OK depending on the person and the language barrier but for me it usually doesn’t go beyond “I like them rounded.” and “Yes the color is nice.” I just focus on the shiny shade being painted onto my body and let the thoughts flow. It’s meditative really. Learning to ignore the fumes, the chatter, the ‘soothing’ music, all while avoiding eye contact with the person massaging lotion onto my hands.
The idea of being obligated to talk to someone is one of my top most uncomfortable feelings, that’s just part of the magic anxiety brings. Having someone else listen in on my conversation is also on that list so talking on the phone in public is off the table for me. What I like most about the nail salon is that comfort in knowing that for the next 30 minutes or so I will be out in the world sitting with a stranger and I don’t have to feel uncomfortable about it. As long as I tip this person well my lack of conversation will be welcomed, maybe even preferred by the lady across the table who I’m sure has heard her fair share of rambling phone conversations throughout her work day. For people like me, the solace that silence is accepted in a public space is remarkably soothing. So next time your at a nail salon, let us socially anxious folks have our quiet time, maybe you’ll learn to like the silence too.
(Image features Essie in “Chills & Thrills”)