Am I the only woman in the world who doesn't like going to the salon? Whether it's for a manicure, a haircut or a color, I actively dread the experience. Not because I dislike the procedures themselves, but because I can't stand having to spend hours of my life engaged in inane chitchat with the stylist.
The stylists themselves are really nice people, and deserve more than my cursory 'hello'. But I just want to catch up on my magazine reading, audio-book listening or general zoning out. I can't help but hear women next to me, however, regaling their stylist with all manner of silly stories that have happened to them in the two weeks since their last manicure and want to weep with despair. Really? Is this what passes for a good time in their lives? And is the stylist an eager participant or simply a hostage to their chirpy clientele?
It also shocks me how much time these procedures take. I fully appreciate a thorough job well done, but too many times I get the feeling that people are charging by the minute instead of the job. What on earth takes so long? I notice this in the UK much more so than in the US, which gives new meaning to the phrase 'New York Minute'. What I'd give for a few of those over here in London.
I got my hair cut a week ago and the girl washing my hair gave me a head rub. Now I am all for the head rub / shoulder massage / anything to make my muscles feel better, but the kindly young salon assistant who drew the short straw to assist me was so namby-pamby about it I wanted to scream. I guess she was taught to be 'gentle' and not make any swift movements, but a good headrub demands a take charge approach. Get in there, I wanted to yell, put some muscle into it and make a difference! But no, she just lightly padded the top of my head and worked up some suds in the name of giving me a 'relaxing' treatment. Quite the contrary - the whole thing stressed me out.
All of which makes me long for the New York approach. There is nothing like the no-nonsense Korean manicure, which I've written about before and which is a model of efficiency and quality. How they can consistently file nails in record time and to a precision squoval shape is beyond my comprehension. But they do.
Not to mention the good old head scrub I used to get at various salons across the city. They did it with purpose, with meaning, and it was invigorating and relaxing at the same time. And no dilly-dallying for them, as every minute longer you were in the salon was a minute less for the next person. That might sound like poor service, but it never felt like it and frankly I appreciated that they never wasted my time.
Surely I can't be the only woman who prefers her magazines to stylist chit-chat, and I read articles which say that the stylist is perfectly fine with quiet ones like me. Invariably I get the wounded puppy look, which as I think about it is probably meant to induce a feeling of guilt and therefore a higher tip. Well, it works. I'm the best tipper there is.