Woman: “Heelo … can I hep yew?”
Me: “Yes, I’d like to make an appointment for a pedicure and manicure with John. A friend had recommended him to me.”
Woman: “Yew, come now.”
Me: “It will take me 20 minutes to get to your shop.”
Woman: “Yew, come nowww. He waiting.”
Me: “OK … see you in a little while.”
I drive my short little 20 minutes to the salon.
Woman: When I enter the salon, the woman at the front counter says, “Pic a cala.”
Me: I say, “I have my own color.” (thinking – there could be germs on their nail polish.)
Woman: John???? (shouting and unintelligible exchange)
Woman: Pointing, “You go there.”
I make my way to the pedicure chair. This man motions me to sit.
I grab my phone from my purse and, compliantly, I sit.
I place my feet into a warm soothing bath of salts. Now, I’m ready to be pampered.
The young man prepares his pedicure instruments and puts on his gloves.
Shutting the water off he looks up at me.
Him: “Wata ok?”
Me: “Excuse me?”
Him: Pointing, “Wata ok?”
Me: “Yes, its fine.”
The pedicure takes about 40 minutes.
There’s never a word exchanged. Hand gestures are the mode of conversation.
Eventually, he looks up and points to the manicure table.
Like a good soldier, I march to my chair and sit.
He begins removing my old nail polish. Tense from all of this silence, I make a silly remark about my worse-for-wear nails due to gardening. He looks up and nods.
Does he hate gardening? Does he feel I’ve entered his silent zone without permission?
Unable to continue in this silent tortuous world I ask, “Do you work everyday?”
Me: “When do you go to school?”
Him: Pointing to his salon license he says, “I finith school. Am tech now.”
Me: “I see that your name Van Nac Tan. It doesn’t say John on there.”
Him: “Me John.”
Me: I want to say, ‘No, your license says Van Nac Tan. Is John the translation?’
Him: As if I needed more clarification he says, “I am tirty yeer ol’.”
Me: “Ahhh … but you look so young.”
Him: He sends me a grimace with his eyes and, I’m sure, from under his mask too.
Me: (thinking) I guess he prefers silence.
I decide he’s a man of few words and a man who does not enjoy a compliment.
Before adding my new nail color he hands me the bill.
Him: “Yew pay now. Tip cash only”
Me: (thinking) Do I have cash? I’m a charge card carrying person. You know the one who gets lots and lots of points if you use your charge card for everything. I give him my card and off he goes to run it through. I look in my purse and find my emergency cash stash. Lucky me or him.
He hands me the charge receipt for signing. He takes it and places it in a draw. I give him his tip. He grabs it and again throws it in the draw. Nods a quick, Thack u, I think?
My nails are polished to a glossy shine. I’m directed to the drying area next and, then, he leaves for the back room without a word.
Me: (thinking) this has been relaxing: I think.