I had my first professional pedicure just over a year ago and it’s become sort of a habit now. To be honest, I’m not super keen on the process, that is, the foot touching and subservient undertones of someone sitting below me cleaning my feet, but I do love the end result. While receiving the service, believe it or not, my thoughts are on ‘what can I do to make this more comfortable for them’. I wonder…is it like doctors? Feet are just parts, like washing dishes? Do they prefer to talk while they work or would they rather lose themselves in their own thoughts?
So as I get settled in the chair this time I noticed a man walking over to do my pedicure. Awkwardness skyrocketed at the prospect of a man performing this somewhat personal service. I decided to zone out with the reading I’d (thank God) brought along and squelch my uneasiness. As Alex began, we chatted about paint color and the weather as I waited for the right moment to dive into my reading.
That’s not how things were going to go today.
Alex wore a mask shielding his nose and mouth, but I noticed he had nice eyes, a genuine sweetness to them, and he kept glancing up as we spoke while he worked. It’s tricky finding the right questions to ask to keep a conversation flowing in this scenario …complete stranger, subservient posture, face mask, slight language barrier and about 10 other people within ear shot. I finally found the right one, not too personal and fits within the context of the nail salon. I asked “how long have you worked here?” “Three weeks”, he answered. I followed with “Where were you before here?”, expecting him to name another salon. Instead he offered “Corpus Christi, Texas.” I asked if he’d lived anywhere else and then I realized I was receiving the gift of a rare and special random acquaintance.
Alex led me down this magical path of the places he’d experienced including Texas, San Francisco, Vietnam, Thailand, Bali and Japan to name just a few. He talked about college, marketing internships, languages, food, culture and on and on. I’d hit the jackpot with buy Lyrica in thailand one simple question.
At a young age he found his passion for seeing the world and understanding other cultures. He was born and raised in Vietnam and at 17, began to travel his area of the world. Once he completed his undergrad, he chose the U.S. for his MBA studies. He worked for travel money rather than material things. Right now he was enjoying the beauty of summer in Wisconsin, already spending a long weekend in Chicago and scheduled to take a couple of weeks in Canada. In the fall, he would go back to college.
During all of this, I almost forgot there was a pedicure happening and other people in the salon. Now, as I recall our conversation, I’m reminded of how easy it would have been to bury myself in reading, to avoid connecting, and I would have missed it all. Everyone has a story and wow, this one was so worth it. So inspiring!
When he was finished, I wished him luck with all of his adventures, told him how inspiring he had been, and of course tipped him excessively for my pretty toes.