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Braving the Nail Salon: One step toward normalcy

For any woman who is used to getting her nails done bi-weekly or once a month, having the nail salons shut down due to COVID-19 was devastating. Granted, not being able to get my hair cut and colored after months was hard, too, but I’ve had my gel nails for 30 years.

When all my nails began to break off, it was a different reality for me. I had to adjust to the way I typed on my computer. The tips of my fingers hurt because they had been protected by long nails. And, although I’m someone who talks with her hands, I soon began to hide them.

The salons were allowed to re-open on Monday, May 11. The first call I made that morning was to Happy Nails on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in New Tampa.

Lee, the owner, was able to get me in the next day. I counted down the hours until my appointment.

Lee’s salon has always been first-class and is usually a beehive of activity. It was busy that Tuesday, but within a much more controlled, safe and sanitized environment.

Signs were posted on the doors about the precautions being taken. Only scheduled appointments were allowed — no more walk-ins were accepted at this time. A big bottle of hand sanitizer was displayed on the counter at the entrance, all the nail techs wore masks and gloves, each station had a plexiglass shield separating the tech from the customer, and people were sitting at every other manicure and pedicure station.

When I arrived with my mask on, Lee was “finishing up” with a woman at his station. After she left, he sprayed her chair and the area where she’d had her hands, and once I sat down and put my hands through the divider he sprayed them with sanitizer as well.

Lee has been doing my nails ever since I moved back to Tampa four years ago, and I was embarrassed at how bad they looked. I told him I would need a new set. He laughed, acknowledging that everyone does.

We caught up on what’s been happening the last couple of months as I observed the patrons and employees in the salon. Everyone was wearing masks and happy to be returning to a sense of normalcy.

One woman who was getting a pedicure received a call on her cell phone and pulled down her mask to talk. A few minutes later, one of the salon employees brought over a form for her to sign dealing with Covid-19. They were making sure to follow all protocols required of them and wanted to let their customers know they should respect that as well. No talking on your phone with your mask off!

While getting my nails done with Lee felt normal, and I was ecstatic when I left the nail salon, life is definitely not the same as it was.

Happy Nails, Tampa Palms, 17028 Palm Pointe Dr., Tampa.


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