"Mark, you told Steve you didn't want primary custody. Are you telling me now there is a disconnect? very brief pause "But you don't do all the technical things with the kids - Lori does all that. Are you going to start doing them? very brief pause "Well then you can't leave the house if you want primary custody. Do you understand what that means? Mom and Dad and I have talked about this." very brief pause "Mark, I can't hear you. It's not you, it's me. I have mitts on and can't turn up my ear buds. Ok, bye."
Deep breath, and peace was restored. I reminded myself of the importance of being patient and empathetic with my fellow human beings. That lasted for three minutes, until MARK CAME INTO THE SALON.
He walked up, his sister invited him into "her office" and he sat down on the swivel chair in front of her. They proceeded to discuss the terms of his custody arrangement, Lori's credit card debt, the fact that he was much older than Lori and now had a girlfriend, how karate wasn't working out for his son, how his daughter needed counseling, how Lori had grabbed Mark during an argument, and the fact that their father played racketball the morning of my new pedi friend's wedding. This conversation was made more difficult by the fact that Mark appeared to be hearing impaired, so his sister had to be loud enough, and enunciate well, so he could understand her.
This lasted through the entirety of the best pedicure I have ever had, hands down. The man gave me a neck massage that changed my life. He insisted on scrubbing my callouses. And he pretended not to notice that I needed to shave my legs.
Mercifully, the embattled sibling duo finally got up and left the salon. At which point, I involuntarily blurted out to my pedicurist, "Oh my God! Talk, talk, talk!"
And then, deliciously, he nodded enthusiastically and said, "Yes, she start talking the minute her foot hit water." At the same time, an impeccably dressed young woman, seated nearby, who had been very attentively overseeing the mani/pedi of her elderly mother came over to me "I felt so bad for you! I was just hoping that you were ok! I mean, some people come here to relax!"
It was a connection that completely made up for the disruption. I sat down next to the dutiful daughter to dry my toes, and we talked about being "stuck" in awkward situations. Then we talked about her mother and how she brings her to the salon once a month, and makes sure the technicians know not to give her a massage or rub her feet, and which colors she likes. We parted ways wishing each other well, the pedicurist gave me a loving pat, and I knew I had had a moment.
Should I have leaned over to the Mouth Of The South and said, "Please excuse me, but I am afraid I can hear your personal business. I hope you don't mind waiting until I leave so you can have some privacy."
Maybe? Probably? I don't know. The entire section was held hostage by this woman's personal drama. I have never heard of divorce mediation taking place in a massage chair, but perhaps they were oblivious. Or, perhaps they were just obnoxious narcissists who assumed we were all on bended ear.
There were two types of people in this story. Those who spoke without listening, and those who listened without speaking. Mark and his sister failed to hear how their noise was disrupting the silence of the salon, and my fellow sufferers and I failed to tell them to shut up.
We can't change people, but we can change how we react to them. I am glad I didn't make a scene, and I am equally glad that my pedicurist, the good daughter, and I turned that mess into a truly human moment together. That is what we should seek out --- connection, not conflict.
Until next time, keep crowin', and treat yourself to some pink toes like I did!