Stop Touching Yourself

Over the years I have learned to be very persnickety about what my clients are doing with their “free” hand while I’m working.

In the early days, I was young, hungry, and naive, and I actually fell for the concept of a “free” hand during services. I let them eat with that free hand, I let them sift through their purses, I let them lean on their hands, run their hands through their hair, read books (these were the days before cell phones were common and well before the days of smart phones).

Naturally, the problem with a “free” hand when you’re doing nail services is that that “free” hand keeps oscillating back and forth from left hand to right hand and back again.

So the “free” right hand eating french fries becomes, in short, the not-so-free hand while the left hand is now “free” to shovel fries into the mouth.

It did not take long for me to figure out how many little things the “free” hand was doing were contributing to all manner of service break down. So I started getting vocal about it. I stopped letting them eat. I stopped letting them lean. At this point in the game, I just let them know that there’s no such thing as a “free” hand and if the other hand leaves my peripheral vision, I’ll freak out on them.

OK, not “freak out” — although I might tell them that — but if I can’t see what they’re doing with their hand, I’ll go looking for it.

So, for the most part, my clients are reasonably well behaved. They understand why I freak out if they make some forbidden move, and they expect it.

A few people have a weird OCD thing that absolutely drives me nuts. They just can’t NOT touch themselves. Specifically, touch the nails that I was just working on. For instance, as soon as I’ve drilled out the tips for a backfill on one hand and moved to the next hand, that “free” hand is sitting there, draped casually over my armrest, and I can see them touching each nail, one by one, with their thumb.

I have to “freak out” on them and give them a big lecture on WHY YOU CAN’T TOUCH YOUR FINGERS!

My worst offender has learned to only touch the tip of the nails now. It’s a compromise on my part. It is so hard to see her engaging in this compulsive twitch out of the corner of my eye without saying anything, but we’ve been through it a hundred times. At least she’s aware enough of it to isolate it to just the very edges of the nails now, and I’m aware of the compulsion enough to grit my teeth and let it be.

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