Wednesday, 18 January 2012

soft hands

on monday i received a gift voucher for a place that does manicures and pedicures, as well as other beauty treatments. this is not something i spend my own money on - i don't think i've been in anything called a beauty parlour in my life. never had a facial or any of the other treatments. i can see why other women would do this though, as a means of relaxation or whatever. i just choose not to because i would much rather be spending my money on other things - books, a movie, dinner out, or, just other things.

so when i got the voucher, and having had a trying day on monday, i decided to use it pretty much immediately, as an exercise in stress-relief. i chose a manicure, and it was nice. i got talking to the young woman who was working on my hands - or more accurately, she started talking to me as i think they are expected to do. she was asian, here on a study visa and no doubt working to support herself.

i remarked that her hands must be pretty soft from using all this cream on clients. she misheard me and thought i'd said her hands must be sore. and it turns out that they do get quite sore. mostly from the pedicures, which include a 10-minute foot massage. it reminded once again how lucky i am to work in a job that doesn't actually cause physical pain.

but this woman shouldn't have to endure physical pain in her work either. there's something wrong with the work procedures or the way work is scheduled if it results in employees having really sore hands at the end of the day. here we have an instance of a vulnerable worker - one who most likely doesn't have permanent residence if she's an international student, one who no doubt desperately needs the money, and one who probably isn't fully aware of her rights according to nz law. it seemed to me that the place was full of similar young women.

i doubt that she'd dare complain for fear of losing her job. i imagine the owner of the place, who is likely to be sefl-employed, also works with aching hands. and this is what some people have to live with to earn a living in nz. it's not right in the case of the employer, any more than it is for the employees.

so i'm wondering if i really want to go back for this kind of service. on the one hand both the employer and employee depend on customers in order to earn an income. on the other hand, i don't want to know that someone is feeling pain but hiding it, while she works on my hands and provides the best service she can.

No comments: