My artfully-decorated fingernails are a source of many compliments and a point of pride with me. For years, I have been getting my nails done by Lena, who owns four nail salons in my area. I am convinced that she can do anything on a fingernail. She does art that I would hang on my wall.
My nails always have a design on them, usually a combination of airbrush and hand-painting. My two favorite times of year for nail art, though, are Halloween and my birthday – St. Patrick's Day. Lena always goes all out for those two holidays, painting a different fancy design on each nail.
Since Lena tends to float between her salons, I call her directly to make an appointment. Accordingly, I called her at the beginning of March to set up a nail appointment for my birthday design. To my surprise, she told me that she was going through an issue in her personal life (which I won't delve into) that needed her full attention, so she was taking some time away from work. Well, I could fully understand that! No way was I going to whinge to her about my nails when she was going through a trying time. I'd just go to someone else in the shop. Nobody else could do nail art as fancy as Lena, but there were people there who could do lovely flowers and so on. I could just get shamrocks – or even green flowers – and be perfectly content.
As I said, Lena owns four shops in the area. We'll call them North, South, East and West. West is closest to my home, but I've had some aggravating experiences there, so I skipped them. North is closest to my office, so I called them to see if there was anyone in who could do nail designs. Oh yes, I was told, there was definitely someone there who could. Great! Off I went.
Two things to note here: 1) All the salons take walk-in appointments on a regular basis. I see it happen every time I'm there. 2) All the salons have big signs advertising their airbrush and nail art services.
When I arrived, I was told that the only person who could do nail art had gone home already. (Less than thirty minutes after I'd phoned, told them specifically that I was looking to get nail art, and said I was on my way.) Well, my nails really needed to be redone, so I figured I'd get them refilled and polished up, then come back another time to get the art put on. Meanwhile, I could at least get them painted a nice emerald green.
Well, maybe not. The only green polishes I could find were either a super-pale acid color or an odd green-gray that looked like fungus. Neither of them would be particularly flattering on my nails. OK, fine. I went with a sky-blue, and figured I could get a "field of shamrocks" look later.
So, the next day I started calling around to the shops looking for a nail artist. I started with East. That's the store Lena is usually at, and I knew there were a couple other nail artists there. To my absolute shock, the woman who answered the phone informed me that they had NEVER done airbrush at that store (which I knew was untrue) and there were no nail artists in that day. "No one here is as good as Lena anyway."
A bit stunned at getting essentially blown off, I tried North again. And again, I was told that there was someone there who could do nail design. "Is there DEFINITELY someone in there RIGHT NOW who can do nail art?" I asked. Oh yes, DEFINITELY, he said. So off I went ... and of course, I was told there was nobody there who could do art. Aggravated now, I left the store and called South. "Do you have someone there RIGHT NOW who can do nail designs?" I asked. Yes, they said, there was definitely someone there who could do nail designs. Were they sure? Yes, they were sure. OK, I said, I'd be there soon.
(You can already see it coming, can't you?)
I drove through stop-and-go traffic to get to the shop. And of course, they looked at me like I had three heads and told me there was nobody there who could do nail art.
Now I was getting cross. "I just drove for more than 30 minutes in rush-hour traffic to get here because when I called you told me you had someone here who could do a design on my nails!" Oh, no, there was NOBODY here who did nail art. They didn't know who could have POSSIBLY told me that.
I pointed to a small display of decorated nail samples. "What about these, then?" Looking like they'd been caught, they quickly said that the person who had done those designs wasn't there that day. They pulled over a manicurist who had clearly never done nail art before, and told her to do something. She pointed to a simplistic design of a daisy and said she could do that.
Fine, I was in no mood to argue. "But can you make it green instead of white, please?" That was my only request. She nodded ... and then pulled out the white paint. "No," I said, "Make it green, please!" I handed her the bottle of green. "Yes, green!" she said ... and proceeded to paint the flowers white (with tiny green leaves). Maybe I should have taken away the bottle of white, but I was already feeling rude and demanding (how dare I insist they provide an advertised service), and I knew it wasn't this manicurist's fault she'd been volunteered, so I gave up.
In the end, I found another salon at the North Mall who does nail art, though not as fancy as Lena. They repainted my nails with a St. Pat's design, and actually seem to WANT my business. I've been going there ever since.
(tl;dr: The staff at the nail salons I've been going to for years gave me the runaround about getting my nails done, and outright lied to me about not providing services that I've not only had, but that they advertise in their windows.)
I just found out that Lena is back, so I have an appointment with her for Thursday. All my friends are saying I need to tell her the reason I haven't checked in with her since March (in addition to not wanting to bug her while she sorted things out) was because of how rude her staff was. I hate to do it, but she needs to hear it.