I rarely get a professional pedicure but when I know my toes are going to be exposed to the general public, I make an appointment and get my gnarly toenails decorated with a lively color.
I did that at the InSpa in my town of Redmond, Washington just prior to my husband’s and my recent trip to Arizona. As luck would have it, the same person who spruced up my toes for our October 2016 Hawaii trip was the woman assigned to me today.
I know many women who get a pedicure use that time as “me-time” to escape from their harried lives. They read, or perhaps get caught up with their correspondence/texts, and some simply close their eyes and enjoy being pampered. I can’t do any of those activities because I don’t like the feeling of having someone “service” me. It’s like the person is a servant at my feet (and let me tell you I have gawd-awful looking feet), and it’s as if I’m someone who is above her, of a higher station in life, and that’s not the way I feel. So I talk; I engage the person in conversation.
The first time Jacklin had given me a pedicure, I learned about the size of her family, what she likes to do in her spare time, etc. Well this time Jacklin and I got to talking and she had an accent I couldn’t place so instead of just blurting out, “Where are you from?” I told her that I liked her accent. A minute later I said, “May I ask the original country of your birth?”
“I am from Iran.” Now, that was a surprise. I have no idea what Iranian women look like but that wasn’t the first country that popped into my head. She has lived in the United States for thirteen years and is now a citizen of the United States. “It must have been so difficult when you first moved here, I mean, English is one of the most difficult languages to learn.” She concurred whole-heartedly, indicating that the language and the transitioning to a completely different country was extremely difficult.
I asked, “What brought you to the United States? What was your reason for coming here?”
“My religion. My husband and I are Bahai and if you’re not a Muslim in Iran, you can not fully practice your religion.”
Wow. Her husband and three children moved to America to be able to freely practice their religion. She added, “There is freedom here. We are free to worship as we please.”
Forty-five minutes later, my pedicure completed, I said, “Thank you for sharing your story.” She replied, “Thank you for caring about my story.”
My interaction with this kind woman reminded me of how important it is to acknowledge each person we encounter; to be interested enough to want to know the person, not just interact with them.
It was the most gratifying pedicure I have ever received.