Nail Nightmare: The Happening

Part I

Interior shot of luxury nail salon

Artwork by hJD Studios

Greetings, please allow me to furnish a proper introduction: I am Madeline Haverford-Smith, an etiquette and customer engagement professional, a vocation that was initially cultivated upon the fertile grounds of the British Isles but now finds me comfortably ensconced in my newly adopted abode, the United States.

In my ceaseless pursuit of impeccable customer service, I often embark on excursions to assess establishments for their penchant to exude not merely ordinary but extraordinary levels of customer engagement. In a recent foray, I graced an establishment by the rather grandiloquent name of "Nail Nouveau" with my presence. Armed with the lofty expectations of an upper-class British lady and possessing the patience of a saint, I crossed its gilded threshold, which, mind you, was gilded so thoroughly that even King Midas would have been most envious. I was temporarily blinded but quickly regained my composure with the assistance of my impeccable pair of custom-made sunglasses.

Now, this was not exactly my first waltz at the Palais Garnier, so the, shall we say 'less than stellar' individuals I encountered on this escapade have been most graciously awarded pseudonyms in my retelling. As the tinkling bell heralded my arrival, I was greeted by none other than the spa's resident embodiment of pink and glitter, the receptionist par excellence, "Tiffany". Picture, if you will, an overzealous cheerleader who took a wrong turn on her way to a pep rally and ended up at a spa instead.

Tiffany, in all her bedazzled glory, was a veritable whirlwind of enthusiasm. I couldn't help but wonder if she had been “mainlining” espresso shots in the back room, for her energy levels were nothing short of extraordinary. Her smile radiated like Piccadilly Circus on New Year's Eve, blinding patrons with its superficial brilliance, and her greetings were so relentless that I half-expected to find a covert tip jar labeled "Smile Fund" discreetly tucked away behind the counter.

"Tiffany",  the receptionist, dressed inappropriately in pink loungewear with lipstick on teeth

Artwork by hJD Studios

With each step, Tiffany practically bounced toward me, her enthusiasm rivaling that of an overeager Labrador puppy at a tennis ball factory. I was half-tempted to inquire if she moonlighted as a trampoline tester, for such boundless exuberance surely deserved recognition in the world of extreme sports.

"Welcome to Nail Nouveau! How may we infuse a dash of fabulousness into your day today?"

Tiffany's grin would have lit up Buckingham Palace, and given the rather large amount of lipstick on her teeth, I suspected she was advertising the colour du jour as well.

I, in the most genteel manner, responded, "I have arrived for my appointment, a manicure and pedicure, if you would be so kind, dear. Time is of the essence; I have a business meeting scheduled in precisely two hours."

Tiffany beamed as if she had secured an invitation to a royal garden soiree and promptly ushered me deeper into the salon, where I was immediately struck by the decor. As I sauntered through the gilded gates of this glittery palace, I couldn't help but wonder if the interior designer had raided Liberace's closet during a particularly extravagant garage sale. Ready to plummet onto the heads of unsuspecting clients were Crystal chandeliers, reminiscent of the crown jewels, hung perilously overhead, daring patrons to question the wisdom of sitting down beneath them. It was as though they aimed to provide a thrilling game of "Manicure Roulette," where the stakes were nothing less than life and limb. There was more glitter here than in a unicorn's daydream, and I was half-expecting a troupe of disco-dancing fairies to appear at any moment.

Tiffany assigned me to, without proper introduction, a nail technician named "Jade", whose fluorescent green hair resembled the outcome of a radioactive experiment gone awry.

"Jade", a green-haired, inattentive nail technician, with green lipstick.

Artwork by hJD Studios

Jade, seemingly ensconced in the riveting drama of her smartphone, regarded me with a glance that suggested I was an unwelcome intrusion into her digital reverie. The clinking of her rhinestone-encrusted nails against her phone screen served as the initial harbinger of an ordeal of agonizingly languorous proportions.

Ah, but here the plot thickens, for Jade, you see, was not merely engaged in the art of nail care but also embroiled in a telephonic tangle most inappropriate for the workplace. She was locked in a heated conversation with her paramour, and, without the benefit of marriage, the progenitor of her offspring, a “gentleman” whose fidelity had taken a most unfortunate detour. The conversation, replete with impassioned exclamations and vocabulary more suited to a tavern brawl than a nail spa, echoed through the establishment with the fervor of a Shakespearean drama.

Jade looked up from her phone, blinked as if she had forgotten where she was, and mumbled, "Oh, right. What color do ya want?"

"Rouge Classique, please."

Jade begrudgingly reached for a bottle of nail polish and began applying it to my nails with all the enthusiasm of a snail racing through molasses.

"Could we possibly expedite matters, my dear?" I inquired, my tone imbued with the well-practiced restraint of a British lady.

Jade, roused from her tempestuous discourse, mumbled something indecipherable and proceeded at a pace that made the movement of glaciers seem positively expeditious. Her application of nail polish resembled a sloth attempting a masterpiece with the precision of a sledgehammer.

Desiring conversation, I complimented her on her vibrant hair, remarking, "Your hair color is rather...unconventional, is it not?"

Jade, briefly lifting her gaze from her phone, responded with an uninterested shrug, "Yeah, got it done last week."

It quickly became evident that engaging in stimulating discourse was not within Jade's purview.

To add to the mirth, there was a woman with an unruly toddler in the spa, a little cherub who appeared to have been tutored in the art of chaos. This mischievous imp scampered about with the exuberance of a squirrel on a caffeine binge, inadvertently knocking over nail polish bottles and creating a general atmosphere of pandemonium.

As if the comedic tableau were not complete enough, the aforementioned unruly toddler's mother, while engaged in her cacophonous conversation with a bill collector on the speakerphone of her mobile device, added yet another layer of absurdity to the scene. Her impassioned pleas and vehement protests against paying said bill reverberated through the salon like the crescendo of a discordant symphony, only with a distinct lack of harmony and a surplus of expletives.

It was as though I had unwittingly stumbled into a theatrical production where the cast had taken an oath of silence, save for the indignant mother who, it seemed, had just discovered the meaning of fiscal responsibility. Her histrionics reached a crescendo as she bellowed into her phone, "I will not pay! You hear me?" it was clear by the volume of her voice that the phone was superfluous.

I endured what felt like an eternity until the manicure was at long last completed, my nails looking as though they had endured a night of particularly riotous revelry, akin to a Picasso painting.

Hoping for an improvement during the pedicure, I was woefully mistaken. The pedicurist, who bore the name of "Crystal", had developed a most innovative method of communication. She no longer relied on the spoken word, indeed. Instead, she communicated with an array of grunts, eye rolls, and other facial contortions that would make even the most expressive silent film actor seem positively loquacious. Her message, I surmised, was that she had long abandoned the art of meaningful dialogue and opted for a nonverbal repertoire worthy of an avant-garde performance artist.

Pedicurist "Crystal", disgusted look with raised eyebrow

Artwork by hjD Studios

Crystal appeared to regard my feet as the lost treasure of Atlantis, embarking on an archaeological quest. The procedure extended to such an extent that I began to wonder if my business meeting would metamorphose into a late-night affair.

As the relentless hands of the clock pressed on during my sojourn at Nail Nouveau, I found myself lost in contemplation of its impeccable reputation. One couldn't help but wonder: have our standards plummeted to such depths that this, dare I say, "experience" is now deemed acceptable, nay, even exceptional? Have the masses, in their relentless pursuit of glittery extravagance, collectively lost their senses?

It's said that several celebrities including royalty occasionally grace Nail Nouveau with their presence. If that's true, then I can only assume that these individuals enjoy the thrill of a game of "Will My Nails Survive the Chandelier Drop Today?" Or perhaps they simply find Tiffany's over-the-top enthusiasm a source of endless amusement.

And so, dear reader, I settled my bill with the grace of a swan navigating turbulent waters, though internally, I was more exasperated than a butler tasked with herding a swath of unruly cats. I left a tip, out of politeness and the requirements of my exceptional breeding, and I finally made my hasty exit, my nails in disarray, my patience utterly depleted, and my business meeting relegated to a distant memory. For in the realm of posh nail spas, it appeared that even a lady such as myself could find herself thrust into a theater of the absurd, where communication was reduced to grunts, melodrama unfolded over phone calls, and the only thing that remained constant was the undeniable presence of chaos.

Behold the ghastly punchline of this lamentable comedy: Bad customer service, an egregious affront to both sensibility and purse. In my next installment, do brace yourselves, my dears, as I, with utmost grace and a hint of disdain, unravel the appalling cost of such service, a realm in which I am, most unfortunately, rather well-versed.

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