I am now, and always have been, a nail-biter. I am also pretty deficient at anything that requires combining patience with fine motor coordination. As such, I got into the habit of getting my nails done. And I am cheap frugal, so I got in the habit of getting them done at cheapie nail shops.
It’s pretty obvious upon entering most places that offer $15 manicures that it’s far from a great job. Even if the owners are fair, and nice, sloughing off other people’s dead foot skin for minimum wage has got to suck. It’s also pretty obvious that most of the people working in these nail shops are young, immigrant women for whom English is a second language.
A year or two ago, the mother of a friend of mine developed pneumonia. She’s Vietnamese, and she worked in a nail shop for decades. Her doctor thought she was a chain-smoker, because of the condition of her lungs.
There was only so long that I could ignore that getting my nails done in these places very likely made me a first-world jerk. So, I finally grew some ovaries and wrote this story for the Globe on all the really terrible health risks faced by nail salon workers.
I’m trying to learn to do my own nails. I pretty much suck at it.