This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years.” Her memoir, available at Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com 

Now, on to my blog:

Hands Rotated (3)“Manny-petty” was the word (or was it a phrase?) that the woman yelled out to me from the back of the crowded room after I walked into the nail salon. I thought she was speaking another language and for some reason assumed I was fluent in it, too.

“What,” I shouted back, not understanding what she was talking about?

“Manny-petty?” she repeated in her singsong manner.

I finally got it; she was saying: mani-pedi, salon-speak for manicure-pedicure. She had boiled our pending transaction down to its essence.

“No, just mani,” I responded, getting into the trendy shorthand; I’m a fast learner.

Each job, profession, avocation, pastime, pursuit or hobby has its own jargon. One must learn it to survive and thrive there.

I had been booked for a hand modeling job for jewelry. (Yes, even aging hands are sometimes needed for such gigs.) I had only had a professional manicure a few times in my life, the last being at least two decades ago. I didn’t even know where to go and had to call friends for referrals.

I’ve always manicured my own nails, never liking other people fussing with my body for cosmetic purposes. (I’m not crazy about doctors or dentists either, but that’s a whole other blog.) I don’t do well with massages, and even encounters with shoe salesmen are iffy.

Somehow, I feel that by being the one serviced, I’m being placed in a position of privilege being attended by underlings and putting the one delivering the service in a subservient position. I even cut and style my own hair–natural curls are very forgiving to answer your question.

A glance around the salon revealed a lot of clients with one hand on a small table being worked on by a manicurist while in too many cases the other hand held a cell phone jammed against its appropriate ear.  Several of these princesses also had their feet on small stools with cotton crammed between their toes to hold them apart while another worker took care of the pedi part.

Help! Let me out of here. This is not my world.

My inquirer and all of her fellow manicurists were Asian, and I remembered reading that the industry has become dominated by immigrant Vietnamese women, at least in Los Angeles, California. With limited English skills and a need to support themselves and their families, they have found a niche. With niches comes jargon. In this case, their opening line is: mani-pedi, thereby avoiding a long, taxing discussion in English which might be a challenge.

Mani KitI soon overcame my aversion to the experience as I watched the manicurists working efficiently while laughing and chatting with each other in their native tongue. I don’t know if they felt demeaned being in a position of cosmetically servicing the digits of others.  However, while I was there, they seemed calm, pleasant, dedicated to their task, and proud of their work.

Can we learn to be like that, even when we are tasked with work duties we don’t like or that others consider undesirable or demeaning? Yes, we can. Use jargon to help you do it. A stewardess has become a flight attendant, no longer an airborne, female server of food, drinks, and pillows, but now a position for both genders and a part of an integrated flight team. Garbage collectors have become sanitary engineers–same job, different mindset. Try a change of jargon to elevate and enhance yourself.


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2 responses to “Jargon

  1. Good stuff, as usual, LGG. I have one caveat though. We have to be mindful of the employers who give us a meaningless title so that they don’t have to pay us more.

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