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Oct 1, 2008

Dying to Vote

. Oct 1, 2008


I am soaking my feet in warm sudsy water in the little basin below my chair at the nail salon. A pedicure is the one cosmetic luxury I refuse to surrender to my tightening budget for a couple of reasons: one, my lower back issues make straightening my leg after contorting to paint my toes a slow burn and, two, my little piggies take on a life of their own if they are not professionally maintained. I'll give up dinner and drinks before I cancel the pedicure.

The afternoon's heat hangs in the salon. My eyes burn with the day's computer work and I let my heavy lids fall. The more the foot bath vibrates, the farther away my cares go. The pedicurist lifts my foot onto the platform and goes to work. Little pangs of ticklishness make me smile.

A young girl's shrill voice rings out. I pop my eyes open and see two teenage girls bouncing through the door. Their energy shows through radiant smiles and easy giggles. They are white, tall and long-haired, one blond, one brunette, with thin jean clad legs and the requisite flip flops for pedicured toes. They take empty chairs on either side of me and continue their conversation seamlessly. After some chatter about last night's episode of "90210":

Brunette: I'm soooo tired of watching it on the small screen in my room. My Mom keeps hogging the flat screen to watch all that economy junk.
Blond: Ugh. Seriously. If I have to hear about that Main Street Wall Street stuff again, I'm gonna kick the screen!
Brunette: Haha! Ha! Yeah, and all the election crap? I mean, who cares? Politics are boring!
Blond: Thank you! That's what I tell my Dad and he's all, you should care about your future -
Brunette: Heehee! Whatever. It's boring.

The pedicurists working on the girls' feet do not take their eyes off the job at hand. They are young Asian women, perhaps mid-20s. They are simply dressed with minimal make-up. Their shiny black hair shrouds their faces as they continue working, stooped over on small stools.

Blond: My Dad keeps telling me I better to register before Monday.
Brunette: Well I'm not voting either. What's one vote gonna matter? Plus Obama and McCain are both weird!

The woman working on the brunette's feet looks up at her, and then to her coworker who says something in their native language. The woman again looks at her customer. In broken English she says, "You vote. You must vote. In my country, people they die to voting."

The girls look at each other and laugh. The woman's coworker says something to her. She looks down and resumes working. As I leave the salon, I notice a little alter in the corner with a Buddha, some fruit, incense sticks and a small American flag.

15 Whispers:

Rene' Morris said...

:*-( While I am really bothered by their attitudes towards voting, it also upsets me that those girls laughed at her. This post seriously made me cry. I think I would have splashed my foot water on the girls and given the woman a big hug.

Jessie said...

Unfortunately, this sounds like something you'd hear ANYWHERE.

Jennifer said...

I only hope that some cure for their ignorance -- getting older? losing easy access to pedicures? -- actually takes effect. Perhaps I was that stupid-sounding once.

Rebecca said...

That makes me sad and very frightened for our country.

I am very glad that my parents educated me about the importance of voting and set an example by voting every election. My school held mock elections and primaries to help teach us about our rights and privileges.

And what makes me mad? How those girls so callously brushed off the plight of their pedicurists families.

Vivienne said...

Rene, the girls' reaction made me emotional too. And I think the woman's coworker scolded her for saying that to the customers. I don't understand the Asian women's language, but that's just what I sensed from the body language. The water splashing is a great idea, by the way! That, or stuffing her cell phone in her mouth.

Hi Jesse, I agree with you, sadly enough.

Hello Jennifer, I wonder about those things too. I know I was a smart alec in my youth more times than not but, I don't know, I've never been one to enjoy ridiculing others. I think there's a twang to the heart strings when you make fun of someone no matter what age you are. Innocent teasing is different from this, to me.

Rebecca, how great that your parents led by example. And yes, the girls' rudeness was sharp as a knife. Awful.

All your tiger are belong to us. said...


YIVote said...

I really wish that those girls had listened to the woman and thought about what she said instead of laughing. We are very fortunate in our country to have a chance to vote--even if we don't always have things go the way that we would like, at least we have a say in the matter. This post made me sad for those who have no say.

Rikud said...

this is special edition stamp ??

Sabra said...

Know what? I don't want people that unthinking voting. I really don't. I agree that it's very important to vote, but what a lot of us overlook is that we need to think before we vote. If they voted, they'd probably do so on the most shallow of terms, and I don't think that benefits our Republic in the slightest.

izmir evden eve said...

thank you for sharing

Vivienne said...

Hello Tiger, I'm interested in what you say. I read more about Bhuddism and are you referring to the Four Noble Truths? For those who are unfamiliar, as I was, the philosophy claims that: all wordly life is unsatisfactory and contains suffering; ignorance causes suffering; there is an end to suffering called Nirvana and the a path that leads out of it. So, do I interpret this philosophy to suggest that there was no need for the woman to point out the girls' ignorance, nor the suffering of her countrymen, because each person has to find their own path to nirvana?

Hello YIVote, although I tried to relate to what Tiger describes, I also dislike the girls' reactions, as you did. My parents lived through WWII and their stories of stolen liberties are horrible. I don't think I'll ever take our freedoms for granted, but then I know better.

Rikud, yes it is a special edition stamp. I found some info on it at

Sabra, you make an excellent point that got lost in my emotional reaction. I can imagine these girls just making designs in their ballots by punching random holes.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what all your tiger means but I grew up in a Buddhist majority country - Sri Lanka - and my friends and I always made sure to vote despite our religion. From what I know of Buddhism 'karma' and responsibility for the greater society is also important unless your a monk then your forbidden to get involved in politics. However Buddhism varies from country to country though the core theologies hold true...

Asian hamster said...

Being an Oriental Asian, I think I may understand a little of the philosophy. It's not written anywhere, and isn't based in Buddhism. At least I'm not aware of it.

The Asian philosophy that Tiger might be (or should be, hope he/she clarifies) is the philo that says "keep your head down, don't comment, don't complain, be content, don't shake the boat, don't cause trouble or trouble will find you." Even at my workplace in Singapore, although we work for Americans, it came as a shock to them that we don't eat with our superiors because it's awkward, and we tell them what they want to hear because that's not rocking the boat.

Nothing to do with Buddhism, everything to do with stoic sucking it up.

Vivienne said...

Ayesha, thank you for joining in the discussion. I like how Buddhism makes the golden rule tangible through 'karma'. It's interesting to hear perspectives on the same issue through the lenses of different religions.

Asian Hamster, now that you articulate the philosophy, I understand the prior comments and believe you are right. Like I mentioned earlier, I was sure the coworker was scolding the girl after she spoke to the customer. That would fall in line with the points you've made.

Also, I am curious about the term "Oriental" Asian. I'm ignorant about the distinction. What does it mean?

quarter-life lady. said...

Wow. What an amazing story. It's crazy how two people can have such amazingly different perspectives on the same topic. I pray that one day they will understand the importance of having educated opinions! Daddy isn't going to be around forever!


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