There are nail salons closer to our winter place. This one is nine miles away and I almost didn't go. But my friend Lynne had a dentist appointment right after her pedicure, so we drove in separate cars. Lynne and I like to chat while we're getting our pedicures.
My pedicurist was a Vietnamese man, Thomas. As he washed my feet I said "cảm ơn" - thank you, the only Vietnamese word I know. I say this every time I get a pedicure in a Vietnamese nail salon. This time, though, Thomas grinned from ear to ear. I was grateful I've been to Vietnam and learned the word, and remembered it.
Lynne's pedicurist is an American woman, Janie. A recent Tucsonian arrival, in her 20s, born and raised in the South, she's getting a fresh start with her life. Her eyes are bright and calm. We are both Friends of Bill W, so we chatted briefly about that. I was grateful that I've learned to be curious and friendly to people I might not have spoken to before. My eyes are wider these days.
Then a new client arrived. A man. Long white beard. Long white hair. Carrying two guns in leather holsters. I watched, startled, as he crossed the room. In my entire life I have never seen a person carrying a gun other than a police officer. I have only heard of it.
Janie had finished Lynne's pedicure, and the carrying fellow was her next client. They greeted each other. Janie started filling the water in the foot basin and the man took off his boots, then his socks, before seating himself in the station next to me.
I almost didn't say anything to him. Then I said, "Janie, what is your client's name?"
I looked at him and said, "Hi, Rusty. My name is Linda. Would you mind if I take your picture? In my whole 69 years, I have never seen anyone carrying. And I would never have thought I'd see it in a nail salon!"
I continued, "I've been told I should never take a picture of a person without asking permission. I don't want to offend you."
Rusty laughed. "Sure," he said.
"How often do you get a pedicure?"
"Every couple of months."
Just like me. Every couple of months.
I said, "Will you sit so that I can see that you are carrying and include that in my shot?"
I said, "Thanks. I wanted to take the picture to remind me about stereotyping, and that we are more alike than we are different."
"But," I continued, "If you'd been carrying an AK-15 I wouldn't have asked if I could take your picture."
We both laughed. So did Janie.
As I got up to pay, Rusty said, "God bless you."
"You too," I said.
Good thing I drove those extra miles for my pedicure. I would have missed the higher education.
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