How Do They Do What They Do?

April 24, 2008 at 2:40 am (Uncategorized)

As I started sweating through my shirt, clutching with clammy hands the sides of the slippery, narrow white mattress on which I lay with my legs immodestly spread, I looked up at my impassive beautician’s face and I thought “How do you do this for a living?” At some points in my bikini wax, her head is virtually buried in my crotch. It’s an extraordinary display of self-control on her part – her face reveals nothing. I just know I’d be full of helpful observations and nervous verbal dribbling to try and take my and the customer’s attention away from the fact that I am all over their inner sanctum with a pot of hot wax. Not Sherie. She’s too busy concentrating on what she’s doing (no bad thing, and just one more indication that she’s the right woman for the job and I’m not). I’ve detailed the full horror of this experience in graphic detail before, but today I was struck anew by the sheer distance between Sherie’s job and mine. How can she face it? Day after day after day of other people’s hair and skin, the disrepair of both being the defining feature of getting customers through the door. Ewwww. It’s just… it’s just that… well, pay me all the money in the world and I still couldn’t face coming into work each day to a 2008 desk planner filled with other people’s coarse ingrown hairs, blackheads and dead skin.

Dentists. Gross. Morticians – clearly something wrong there. Crime scene cleaners: kinda quirky, but also kinda off. Poultry people: disgusting. Butchers oddly don’t bother me even nearly so much as people who handle raw chicken all day. They make me gag – audibly – as I walk by their shopfronts no doubt helpfully drumming up extra business for them. I can’t help it, I look at those greyish raw quivering chicken breasts and experience a full visceral meltdown. Anything involving operating on animals or people is pretty much out for me too – I can’t even watch glamourous autopsies on CSI. Proctologists. Please.

I know it probably becomes really, really normal for those in the job – and let’s face it, it’s an important job that really needs doing, and thank goodness there are people out there with the stomach for it – but it’s still so alien to me. How do you find out you’re good at something like, say, dressing a body for viewing? It takes a certain kind of person to be able to do that, and that person is not me. I do have admiration for them, I do, just from a distance, and preferably behind glass.


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