Saturday, March 11, 2017


As a professional woman who develops a five o'clock shadow every day all over her body, I've become quite the connoisseur of waxing and other hair-removal techniques. The tone in the delivery of these services, however, varies drastically from my birthplace of New York City and Alaska, where I've now lived for 12 years.

Here in Juneau, the aestheticians who help me look a tiny bit less like Richard Nixon every couple of weeks are a lot more friendly and forgiving. For instance, they don't get as angry about time taken between waxes, tweezing and shaving between waxes, and other deviations in waxing protocol.

They don't seem nearly as concerned, for example, as the Romanian women in the basement spa on the far Upper East Side of Manhattan where I used to get my eyebrows and upper lip waxed when I lived in New York. I dreaded walking in there, because I knew I'd be excoriated the moment I laid down on the table. 

This is how it would go:

Looking up at one of their scary, Nurse Ratchet One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest faces, I knew what was coming before she even said it. She'd squint over my face, frown, cluck her tongue, and sigh deeply with disappointment and annoyance before unloading on me:


"Sooorrryyyyrry," I would mew in a meek little voice, and in noting her hairy chin moles, I knew I'd fail to find sympathy for my between-wax tweezing habits.

No one ever yells at me about tweezing here in Alaska, even though I'm sure they want to. I apologize in advance like an abused shelter animal and they just shrug and tell me about their kids and vacation plans while they rip hair out of my body and apologize to ME for that one little strip right under my nostrils that always makes me sneeze and scream at the same time.

It's really a customer service thing, is what it is. Customer service in general is way better pretty much anywhere in the country than it is in New York City. For example, the Fred Meyer in Palmer, Alaska features people who approach you unsolicited in the aisle and ask if you need help finding anything. 

At the Key Food in Brooklyn, by contrast, you'd search around for someone to tell you where the olives were, and when you finally found a breathing human, they'd briefly glance up from stocking a shelf, roll their eyes, and say with irritation:

"Wha' happen?"

Man, I tell you what. Sometimes I really do miss New York.

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