A Lesson Learned at a Vietnamese Nail Salon

by | Dec 12, 2014 | Uncategorized

I was born into a family of Avon ladies. On my Dad’s side, there were no less than three of them going door-to-door at any given time. Dad’s oldest sister (my Aunt), Virgie, now in her 70s is still an award-winning Avon lady and on a near daily basis, she is taking orders, delivering lotions and looking like a million bucks.


What I’ve observed from my Mother and Aunts over the years is that looking beautiful takes effort. It takes consistency. Sometimes it even involves a little pain.


For example: I’ve been voluntarily ripping hair off my face from the roots since I was in my teens. I pluck, prod, occasionally get chemical peels and currently, on a bi-weekly basis, I head to my closest Vietnamese nail salon to have the ladies beat the shizzle out of me.


Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let me fill you in.


One of the best things about a Vietnamese nail salon is the fact that as part of your service, they give massages. Long massages. If you’re getting a pedicure, along with that comes a rigorous and lengthy foot rub. At my particular salon, every time I get a manicure, not only do they massage my hands and arms, but I get a 10 minute neck and upper back rub, too.


Nice, right?


Yes. And no.


Let me explain.


Just like I take after my Dad’s side of the family in the beauty product junkie department, I take after my Dad when it comes to his philosophy about massages. I get. I don’t give. I live by this credo.


(Ask my Husband; he hates this philosophy.)


Anyway, in my book, any time anyone offers to massage any part of my body, I’m in. The thing is, at the Vietnamese nail salon, the ladies really smack the crap out of you. There are times I leave the salon feeling like I just got jumped in a dark parking lot.


I never say anything. In large part, this comes from my inherited belief that beauty has it’s price (which is sometimes painful).


Last night I decided that belief is really stupid.


I was tired. I was hungry. I was sore from working out the day before. I wanted to go home, but I couldn’t go home because my nails were grown out and chipping and no respectable Hernandez woman ever walks around for more than 24 hours with grown out and chipping nails.


After work, I drove my bitchy self across the street to the salon. I picked my color. I allowed the lady to scrape, remove, cut, file, jab, and polish. Then, it came time for my massage.


She. Was. Physically. Injuring. Me.


Smack! Knock! Box!


Punch! Throttle! Thump!


I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to tell her to stop. She was taken aback, and I think I may have insulted her.


Sorry nice nail lady.


Yes, I love getting massages. Yes, I want to look and feel pretty. But no, it doesn’t always have to involve pain.


Lesson Learned – #1

If someone is doing something “to” you that you don’t like, you have the option of telling them to stop. You have a choice about the amount of pain you are willing to tolerate. If your happiness outweighs the benefit of the pain, for God’s sake say something.


Next –


As I was impatiently sitting, waiting to for my gal to get done so I could go home and fix my family cereal for dinner, I was observing the salon’s “Head Honcho.” If you ever go to a Vietnamese nail salon, you know exactly who I’m talking about. The “Head Honcho” is the person who sits at the front of the salon, takes care of “premiere customers,” greets all the people who come into the salon and bosses all the workers around.


The “Head Honcho” at my salon is really nice.


What I noticed about Trish is the fact that she said “yes” to every person who walked through the door. Whoever it was and whatever they wanted, the answer was always

“Yes, we can do it.”

Even when a lady walked in the door 15 minutes before closing wanting a mani/pedi, the Head Honcho didn’t flinch, she just said

“Yes. Pick your color, please.”

The conclusion I reached was that the Head Honcho and the salon workers are willing to embrace every opportunity that comes their way by saying “yes.”



Lesson Learned – #2

There are some amazing opportunities that show up everyday in all of our lives. The real question is whether or not we are willing to say “yes” to those opportunities. Oftentimes, the opportunities involve overtime (even when we’re tired), but if the potential return outweighs the investment, maybe we should take a cue from the Vietnamese nail ladies and say “yes.”


Next –


Have you ever noticed in this day and age that everybody is about the upsell? Think about it. At the car wash, they always try to upsell you into the next highest package, the one with your choice of air freshener and tire sparkle. At the movie theater concession stand, those pimply-faced teenagers won’t let you get away without telling you for a dollar more, you can go from a medium popcorn to a large.


Similarly, every time I go to my nail salon, if I’m only getting one service, they try to talk me into another.  Whether I am getting one or two services, they always ask me if I want a sea salt scrub, a paraffin wax, or a nail design. On my birthday, I decided to treat myself and say yes, yes, yes and yes.


I walked out of a Vietnamese nail salon with a $100 nail bill, not including my cash tip. That day really hurt.


That leads me to the next point.


Lesson Learned – #3

In the words of my dear friend, JT, “You can’t blame a brotha for trying!” Like JT, these ladies aren’t afraid of the word “no.” You shouldn’t be, either. That word never killed anyone. If there is something you want, ask for it. You have everything to gain.


These Vietnamese nail gals know the score!




Now that it’s the weekend, it’s the perfect time to indulge in something just for yourself. May I suggest heading over to your closest neighborhood Vietnamese nail salon? Even if you’re a dude – go get a pedicure. Say “yes” to something different by checking it out.


You’ll see the lessons I’m talking about in action.


As for me, my nails are good to go for another two weeks. Tomorrow, I’m heading to my esthetician for my monthly facial hair ripping session.




It has its price, people.

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