I had a very similar experience at a nail salon a couple months back.
It was around 10:30 AM on one of the days bridging the gap between Christmas holiday and New Years.
Halfway through my manicure, a woman walks in. How can I describe her without sounding hypocritical? She’s a blonde, very nicely dressed. I can tell she has money, she probably doesn’t work since she’s here at 10:30 (but that’s me judging since I work and am there at 10 — a luxury of the holidays). The woman promptly asks for a manicure and pedicure. There are three nail techs in the salon. Blondie, as I’ll call her, asks both remaining nail techs to do her hands and feet simultaneously. When one nail tech says they don’t do that, Blondie immediately gets bitchy. She calls the tech lazy (and everything in quotes from here out is verbatim). “She’s just sitting there drinking her tea on her phone.” “What is your name? I am going to call the owner.” “I don’t know why you won’t do my nails. You are just sitting there. She’s lazy.”
At this point, I looked up and said, “don’t to that,” to her with the saddest tone in my voice.
Blondie was really, really shocked.
We were the only two customers there.
Blondie started huffing about the laziness again and I said, calmly, “don’t be like that. These women are human beings. They’re people. You could be nice.”
She then says (seriously, this actually happened) “I am in a rush! I have to get on a plane to Europe in a couple hours and before that I have to pick up my 83 year old mother!”
As this was happening, the tech who was previously being berated walked by and rubbed my back as if to say, perhaps, thank you, and, it’s okay, honey, please don’t kill the customer.
And I said, “so? That doesn’t matter. They are human beings. Don’t treat them like this. You shouldn’t act like this. I am going to call the owner after you do so I can tell her exactly how you acted and so that she knows that these women did nothing wrong. You should not threaten someone with losing their job because they won’t do your nails.”
Then, as Blondie, kept sputtering that the woman was lazy, I turned to face my nail tech and put in my headphones. I then proceeded to ignore all the other insults Blondie decided to hurl at me.
When I left the salon, her parting shot was “make sure you call!”
Yes, this filled me with rage, and I do really wish I’d called her pathetic, but the smiles I got from those three nail techs made that so fucking worth it.
And I didn’t call. I wrote an email to the owner (I feel that that definitely will get to the right person) explaining that not only was Blondie a dick, but that all three nail techs were pictures of professionalism during the whole ordeal and I could not praise them more highly for their work and their grace in the face of a difficult customer.
I’m so tired of being tolerant in the presence of shitty people. When you see someone being mistreated, speak up. You probably won’t change the shitty person, but you’ll definitely help the person on the other end.
I wouldn’t ever do this if I thought the person would be a physical danger to myself but otherwise I can’t tolerate being silent. It wasn’t even something I had to consciously think about. I just couldn’t deal with not telling her to stop.
This story is top-of-mind because yesterday, I was in the salon and one of the techs that had been working on that day came up to me, thanked me for what I did, apologized for making me uncomfortable (I was emphatic that she didn’t make me uncomfortable in the slightest — I said the woman was a jerk and the tech smiled and said “yes, but she comes in a lot”). I was then given a certificate from the salon for a free manicure.
A free manicure is awesome, but it’s way more awesome to know that I did make that situation better for them by saying something.