Tipping Point

Tales from the other side of the spa bed.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past ten months, it’s that these people are working damn hard for every $5 you throw at them.

After almost three hours of hard, sweaty labor (did I mention the burns? and how I missed my dinner break?), not to mention three hours of conversation where we’ve covered everything from her mean in-laws to her abandoned dream of being a chef, she slips me $5 for $55 worth of waxing.

There are a lot of Tip Jar stories that I haven’t told you, either because they seem kind of run of the mill (yet another European facial on yet another middle-aged lady for yet another $5 tip) or because I’m just not quite sure how to explain the encounter or what conclusion we can draw. I’m solving all these problems by giving you this (not at all chronological) list of some of the latest, with the salient facts, but not much else. It’s like Choose Your Own Adventure day, only you can Draw Your Own Conclusions instead.

Client Nine is thirteen. Her parents think she needs an eyebrow wax, and hey, maybe a lip wax too. Miss Stacy and I disagree.

Client Eight is a shy 16-year-old girl with a small bit of acne around her hairline. (Hair products, people. Hair products.) I ask if she has any concerns about her skin and she immediately starts talking about her break-outs: “I hate them! They never go away! They look so bad!”

Client Seven is back. And she doesn’t seem to mind getting naked in front of me. So why am I so uncomfortable with it?

If Seven can’t afford to leave a good tip, does that mean she’s not a good customer?

A fellow Beauty U student gets in trouble and I get over-tipped. What kind of teachable moment is this?

Four wants a glycolic peel, but tips me five bucks when I sell her a fancy anti-aging facial instead. I realize I’m learning how to upsell — and feel guilty about it.

I’m feeling so confident that I take a swing at upselling, telling Margo and Denise that they might consider trying a more expensive facial next time that everyone swears up down and sideways offers tremendous anti-aging benefits.

A 20 percent tip and Jody’s face didn’t fall off or turn red. I’m calling this one a win.

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