Lessons from a nail salon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

via Instagram @whitneynewby
Yesterday, I had a few hours to get things done without my little man around (thank you, Mimi & Poppy!) and decided to take 45 minutes and get a manicure. It was the first manicure I've had in nearly a year, so I was thrilled to sit down, relax, and enjoy every second of the experience.

As my nails dried, there was only one other customer in the salon who was finishing up a pedicure. I'd heard her snap at the lady doing her nails a time or two, so I already felt nervous when she got up to pay.

As soon as she got to the checkout counter, she presented a Groupon and demanded that they take it, even though it had expired two weeks before. She claimed that the value she paid would never expire, even though the deal had expired (and looking at Groupon's policies now, she was technically correct). But the way she talked to the ladies in the salon - immigrants from Asia - made me physically sick. My heart raced and my face turned flush as I listened to her tell them she was an attorney and threaten their business if they didn't allow her to use her expired Groupon.

It made me embarrassed to be lumped into the same group alongside her... another white, privileged woman. As soon as she left, the employees were clearly flustered and softly talked to each other in their language, trying not to make a big deal out of it around me. I ended up apologizing for her behavior and the way she treated them. They were so eager to please and so kind to customers, so to be treated that way over a pedicure was disturbing.

I'm currently reading this book, Escape from Camp 14, which chronicles the life of the only known person born in a North Korean prison camp who was able to escape to freedom in the west. It's a disturbing read, at least at this point in the story, but I just can't help but look at my own life with so much gratitude. Shin, a man about my age, was born and raised without love, without hope, without hardly any food apart from rats and insects he caught. He was tortured, abused, and knew nothing of the outside world. Can you imagine the culture shock he experienced when he moved to Southern California?! I know it's an extreme example, but as a young wife and mother living in a very wealthy part of the world, it would be so easy to get so caught up in my own little world that I know nothing of stories like Shin's. But I don't want my head to be in the sand and think that my life is normal - or difficult. My life is not normal. Not for a second. I am incredibly blessed, and to whom much is given, much is required.

So back to the nail salon. If this lady was immature enough to enter a heated discussion over a pedicure, I'm sure there were other things going on her life. But it makes me so sad how the majority often treats minorities or anyone they view as inferior in such subtle and yet such cruel ways. I find myself, recently, employing a first generation immigrant - and my eyes were once again opened to how I should be treating her, loving her, and serving her as my equal. It makes me so excited to watch Brighter Day grow and to hopefully realize our dream of employing those who have once been victims of human trafficking. Which is another story for another day. Little by little, the Lord is preparing us with lessons - even here in Franklin, Tennessee - that will serve us along the way as this business and ministry grow.

PS - They did an excellent job on my nails. I'm a fan.


  1. I am always disturbed when I see how awful humans can be to one another--how they can be so *dehumanizing* over something as insignificant as a pedicure. I see this all the time in the grocery store where I work.

    But as shocking as it is to see the cruelty, I think I am even more caught off guard when the opposite occurs; that God can, and does, work restoration into such a broken world never fails to leave me speechless (which, asking those who know me, is quite a feat indeed). After all this time, I probably shouldn't be so surprised each time I see it happen in unexpected ways--because it's never the way *I* think it should be. (Silly me). What a remarkable opportunity you have to be part of bringing the kingdom to the present. Beautiful.

    /ramblings. My sincerest thanks for sending encouraging words to this stranger in Michigan. They were much-needed this morning.

  2. I have worked in customer service for a time, and am always surprised at how people handle "tough" situations. It makes me sad when people use harshness and rudeness to get their way, rather than kindness.
    Thanks for this post- it was a great reminder to be thankful in all circumstances!

  3. Whitney, you are serving the Mighty G-d and He will say well done my child when the time comes to go home. I have found being gracious and loving in times of difficulty wins the day. Kindness goes a long long way, we are commanded to love one another, not just those we choose (family and friends).

  4. Thank you for sharing Whitney! I`ve been reading your blog for a long time now and I just wanted to let you know that reading your blog has so often been an encouragement to me! So thank you very much!I love how you serve the LORD!
    God bless you
    Greetings from your Austrian friend,

  5. I think so many people treat those in "service" positions as inferior. I'm the receptionist at a Dr's office and I'm often treated as though I don't know what I'm talking about by those who want their way. It's so hard, but I have to remind myself that there's more to their lives than what I see. They could be going through something really rough and are taking it out on me.

  6. How heartbreaking! Thanks goodness you were there to apologize and I bet they could feel your love. What a true and beautifully ugly story.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh my goodness. I feel like I can relate to this so much. There is something about getting your nails done that can just make me squirm sometimes.. I love the aftermath and it is such a relaxing and fun treat, but sometimes it just feels like I am labeling myself with a bunch of yucky things when I go get one. I loved reading your thoughts!


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