Yesterday, I introduced my American friend to the phrase “spitting the dummy” – a phrase I only now have discovered is a very Australian one. At her blank look, I helpfully suggested “You know, it’s kind of like ‘throwing her toys out of the pram‘,” which only resulted in a blank look supplemented with a screwed up nose.
Luckily, today I was given a practical example, and I honestly believe this particular tantrum is quite a New York phenomenon – one of the reasons why I just booked tickets to London and am looking forward to British politeness, however much inner rage it may conceal.
Despite the budget restrictions imposed by this trip, and my impending brief period of unemployment, I decided to treat myself to the standard NYC mani-pedi weekend session. As I sat reading The Guardian on my iPad (like a bloody hipster) , a woman came in accompanied by a certain well-known life coach (whose name I won’t mention as this wasn’t her fault) and proceeded to berate the establishment as she had made an appointment – she wanted her pedicure NOW and wanted to sit NEXT TO her friend the life coach.
Now, to certain of my own friends I am known as The Queen of Feedback for my tendency to let large entities know how I feel about them, including but not limited to Shell Oil, Time Warner Cable, the Canadian government’s UN representation on deep sea bottom trawling, and Hackney Library (which to their evident surprise received only positive feedback for their brilliant developmentally-disabled library attendant who always had cheery smiles and astute book recommendations). I have also experienced a similar sense of impotent rage to this woman while waiting in line for 40 minutes at the United States Postal Service (I am not alone in that). However, in this case:
1. The woman in question failed to recognise that this was not the 5 star spa at The Plaza Hotel: it’s a small East Village nail shop filled with lovely Chinese ladies who don’t speak the best English, smack bang on their busiest day of the week, which doesn’t exactly do “reservations” and who were doing their best to accommodate her. Not to mention there are at least 5 such establishments within 2 blocks should she wish to take her business elsewhere;
2. The amount of time she was being asked to wait was approximately 32 seconds, or the time it would take my pedicurist to finish my small toe;
3. She was ruining everybody else’s small oasis of calm (particularly mine, as I seemed to have the offending little toe) and making herself look like a complete idiot;
4. She wasn’t exactly doing her life coach friend any credit by flying in the face of all that advice about mindfulness and consideration for others.
As I ever so politely moved out of this lady’s “seat”, the life coach apologized to me saying “Don’t rush, I’m so sorry” and touched me sympathetically on the shoulder. Her friend proceeded to complain as she was moved later to the manicure station, and loudly proclaimed she would not be visiting this establishment again, passive-aggressively saying this loud enough for the manager (supremely unconcerned) to hear.
Maybe, since the rest of my schedule for the day entailed buying some cupcakes and watching another episode of Wallander, I’m being a bit unfair. Maybe this woman had some pressing business to attend to, like performing a heart transplant or preventing an abandoned puppy from being put to death in an animal shelter. But somehow I doubt it. I blame the stress of living in New York, and the ridiculous distortion of priorities that ensues.
I sat at the window waiting for my nails to dry, watching the beleaguered homeless people outside prepare for the encroaching winter, and felt ashamed. Thanks for ruining my day, lady, but also thanks for giving me some perspective.