I walked into the nail salon quite chirpy, but this faded when I noticed that my usual nail technician, Ms A was absent. I’m quite loyal and not usually open to change. This is the reason I’m sort of an Arsenal fan and I stick to the same hairstyles, food and nail technicians.
His command of English was poor, but I decided to give him a go. First, I got my toes polished in my traditional tomato red colour. I must have got that from my mama. Red is our default colour.
And then to the manicure. It was officially Spring so I considered pastel blue. Nothing usual. Acrylic nails. Full set, but not Shellac. I’m a tad bit unsure about Shellac. The UV rays sorta creep me out.
Mr Y starts fixing the acrylic nails on.
“What shape you want”? He asked. “A bit square but not too square. And not too long please, I’ll like it to look natural’. (As an aside, is it just me or does anyone else wonder how those very very fleek ladies with 2 inch nails manage to go about their daily tasks? Buttoning up my shirt and picking a coin up the floor are some of the things I find hardest with artificial nails).
Half way through this guy filing the nails, I passed a comment on how he should file the nails the way I wanted. “This is the way I do it for everybody” he murmured “and no one complains” “Ehm Mister, I’m not everybody and you will listen to me and do it how I want it”. This was the beginning. He dragged my hand a little and kept filing away. Few minutes later I told him the shape wasn’t the way I wanted. At this point he must have wondered why I was being so fussy. “This is the shape you said you wanted” he screamed. Bear in mind that his English was sort of funny so communication was a problem.
He kept grumbling and at that point I let him know that if he wasn’t going to listen and do it the way I wanted then there was no point, and I’ll not continue.
“Okay okay!” he shouted with his hands in the air. “Go go!”. He brought out his nail cutter and hastily cut of the nail extensions: but I still had the bottom part fixed to my nails (attached with glue). “Well take these off as well”, I said. “You have to pay me £10 to take it off” he replied. What??? I could feel my anger rising slowly. You do rubbish on my nails and ask that I pay you £10? (In my mind I thought, exchange rate to the naira is 450 oh, this man must be joking.)
I shook my head. I had initially intended to pay for my toes and walk out. “Pay for your toes and go” he said. “No, I haven’t received any service here. I’m not paying for anything”.
Then it happened. He walked over to me and trampled on my feet several times with his shoes! This was obviously in an attempt to ruin the polish on my toes.
Did this guy actually trample on me, I asked myself.
I was in shock. I had literally just been assaulted. As a Nigerian, the first thing you think of isn’t to call the police. “Let me speak to the owner of the salon” I instructed. He dialled Ms A on FaceTime and I told her all that had happened. She said she was coming over straight away.
Did Mr Y apologise. No! As a matter of fact he got more aggressive and tried to push me out of the salon. At this point, I stepped out and dialled 101 – the non emergency number of the police, as I figured it was not an emergency. I mean I wasn’t dying or anything.
The two other ladies who were in the salon came out to meet me asking why I was so calm about this, advising that I definitely had to call the police on the emergency number. And so I did just that. One of the ladies gave me her business card and said she was totally willing to give evidence on what happened. The other lady (Lady M) surprised me further by offering to wait till the police came, because I was not safe all by myself. I dialled 999 and reported the assault.
“Could you describe this person?”, was one of the questions the police lady asked me over the phone “He’s well built, dark hair and probably at least 5’8” I said. I realised how generic my description sounded. Nothing like those movies when people describe their assaulters down to the cleft on their chin. “We’ll get someone across as soon as possible” she finally said
Ms A arrived and kept pleading with me to not make an official report, that he was just aggressive and had so much on his mind. “Everyone has so much they’re dealing with Ms A”, I told her. That doesn’t give you the right to hit another person. Never. “Why does he have so much authority in this salon anyway? Is he a part owner?” I quizzed. “He’s my husband”, she said with tears streaming down her face. At that point I felt pity for her. If he could do this to a customer. What could he possibly do to you? Would you cover up for him because he has a lot on his mind? Would you not dial 999?
Mr Y came eventually to meet us at the coffee shop, and I realised how wrong my description was. He was clearly shorter than me, and I’m 5’5. He apologised. “That’s fine” I said, “but the police will still have to get here”.
Ms A pleaded that I should allow her rectify my nails and when the police arrived to let them know it had all been sorted. She didn’t want any official report or indictment on her husband.
It had been over 3 hours since I stepped into the salon for a quick manicure. I was tired and hungry. It had been over one hour and the police had still not arrived. Plus I still had haphazard nails on my hands.
“The police will still take a statement. I can’t take that back. But yes, let’s go back to the shop to correct this”. (There was a teeny weeny part of me that was thinking of the £50 I was going to save because “Hello! She’s definitely not asking me to pay”).
Ms A ended up fixing my nails and my toes. I got my pastel blue nail polish. I was not surprised when halfway through my session, Lady M arrived to get a refund. “I came here for a good relaxing experience and I didn’t get it”. Yep. She got her £50 back.
I left the salon with questions on my mind. Maybe you can provide answers
- Why do women seek to cover up for their husbands even when it relates to violence?
- Would he have done this to me if I was white?
- Would the police have arrived earlier if my name (and accent) sounded more English.
- Why couldn’t I describe him adequately. Can the average Nigerian describe an individual’s height, weight and build?
- Would I have called the Nigerian police in such a situation or would ‘Boys’ have handled the guy?
- Would a Nigerian have given you a refund for not getting ‘a good relaxing experience’?
It’s been over three weeks now and I’ve still not met with the police. They’ve tried to call me a couple of times to schedule a meeting. When that eventually happens I’ll just had this article to them.
PS: I went back to the salon last weekend and Mr Y was very polite but avoided me! Lady A handled my nails. This time it was perfect. No assault, No Police. Just the perfect length and shape of bright red polished nails.
Image via Bossip