Monday, June 26, 2006


In communities that have "pockets" of ethnic groups- especially recent immigrants, it seems as though they find a business niche. In many parts of the country, Pakistanis/Indians own and operate hotels and convenient stores. In the Chicago area, Dunkin Donuts are also run buy people from India. Here, many restaurants are Greek businesses, as are a couple of service stations.

In the mid to late seventies, the local Catholic Dioceses sponsored Amer-Asian families to come here. Consequently, we have a fairly large Vietnamese community. They have the corner on the nail salon market right now. Last week I had an unexpected kid-free 2 hours in the afternoon and I decided to go get my hooves (oops!, I mean feet) scraped and sanded and polished. The whole pedicure thing is quite the ordeal and I was totally in awe of the four Vietnamese women who were bent over their clients' feet and how hard they were all working. The woman who was working on my feet spoke little or no English and literally had to communicate with me be gently pulling on my leg and pointing. I kept thinking that she was working for "The Man" and that I was "The Man". I had this whole inner struggle as she massaged my feet and calves, scraped away all the rough spots on my heels, trimmed my toenails (!). I guess one way to look at it is that she's earning a living and that she needs customers to keep the business going.

Some people are uncomfortable when a language other than English is spoken in their presence- they fear that they are being "talked about". I'd like to say they are just being paranoid, but having been in that situation myself, I know that it's a wonderful tool- to be able to talk about others around you without their knowing what you are saying. But, I have to say that the 4 ladies working at Fancy Nails hardly spoke to each other, and when they did, you could tell it was work-related. I imagined what the woman with me could have said about me to her colleagues. "Damn! These are like horse's hooves! Could her feet be any nastier???" I could go on and on about not being able to eat Parmesan Reggiano ever again, but I'll spare you the visual. I just have complete admiration for all pedicurists everywhere. If you treat yourselves to one - and I highly recommend it- make sure you tip her well.


Blogger harpo the dog said...

when i get my feet done, that is my worst fear, that they are talking about how nasty my feet are, lol. you should try envy nails at duck creek, they are also really good.

6/27/2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

I have only had a pedicure once - maybe twice? - in my life and I can hardly stand it. I hate feet and I feel bad for anyone who has to touch them as their job. I'm completely paranoid about getting athlete's foot or some other foot fungus, too. I'd rather buy the tools and do it on my own feet if I must... I know, I'm a freak.

6/27/2006 10:04 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

It's rude to exclude people from conversation if you can avoid it. My wife and I used to do it purposely when we were buying a house. But so many people know Spanish, everywhere, that there are few secrets you can keep effectively.

It's too bad Americans, the worst language learners in the world, so often condemn people for not speaking English. I've seen them doing so, outrageously, in foreign countries. Please don't misunderstand--I know you're not doing that, and that your comments are lighthearted.

I think, though, that the "English only" crowd is largely motivated by xenophobia and ignorance. Around here, if you insist on an English-speaking pedicurist, it'll just cost you more.

The pedicurists who don't speak English pay the price for it, quite literally, and they know it better than anyone. They're also aware that not knowing English hurts no one but themselves, and the overwhelming majority of newcomers work on it.

6/27/2006 4:09 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

nyc educator- I agree that it is rude to exclude others by speaking a language that not everyone understands. I have a cousin who always wants to speak Spanish with me and no one else in our family speaks it. It always makes my uncomfortable.

liberal banana- what would the opposite of a foot fetish be? A foot aversion? I think you have that.

harpo- I will try the duck creek place, since it is closer and I can avoid the evil Walmart altogether.

6/27/2006 4:18 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home