Working Retail: My nails…

I understand that this looks like it’s going to be just a typical girly gripe about my nails. But it’s really not. I promise.

Since I haves started working in retail, my hands, fingers, and nails have taken an absolute beating. I’m constantly smashing my fingers or pinching them between boxes and hard places. My nails I constantly break off (painfully most times) as I try to wrestle boxes open that are glued, not taped, shut. I constantly have to baby at least one finger with a cardboard cut or because my cuticle is pushed so far back that it splits open every few hours and bleeds.

And my skin in general has been absolute shit. I already live in a very dry climate and winters here suck ass. Even before working retail, I had a whole hand routine every night to treat the skin hurting and cracking just from being dry. Now I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate basic first aid into my routine. It’s not going well.

I honestly am very lucky if I make it through the week with only breaking 3 nails. And when I mean breaking, I mean breaking down to the nail bed; I’m not talking about the nail is brittle and breaks off looking my fingers looking uneven.

But the worst part is that when I do get any time off, like my weekends, my fingers heal just enough to stop being painful and to stop bleeding every time I ram them into everything. And then I get to go back to work and do it all over again.

But mostly, we’ve come to notice something very important about the girls at work with their nails. If your nails look anything like mine, where they look like shit, they are all broken off and blunt and growing at different lengths (because they got broken at different times), then you probably come in and do your job. Because you don’t break nails off doing nothing.

But if you have those pretty, fancy acrylic nails that stick from here to Timbuktu, then you are most definitely not doing your job of opening boxes and stocking shelves. I’m not ragging on women who have their nails that way, I understand that they are very pretty and make your day better by having something so nice in your life. But when you’re working in an environment where you constantly need to use your hands to do your job, I can’t understand how having long nails would help. Especially knowing the issue I have experienced from stocking boxes. Because you constantly have to rip open boxes or jam your nails under the edges of a box to open it. There’s no way in hell you’re doing your job with your fancy acrylics.

Maybe in an office environment, having fancy acrylic nails would be 20x more helpful. I never had them when I worked as an admin assistant, but I know many women love having them for typing and sorting documents.

But working in a grocery retailer is not the place for fancy acrylic nails or a full face of makeup. Period.

To lighten the mood a bit after I’ve basically called out 90% of my co-workers for their bad fashion sense, here’s I do to keep my hands ready and willing to strangle a man.

  1. Every night apply a heavy-duty hand lotion. People will recommend items like Bag Balm, O’Keefe’s, etc. I use just petroleum jelly with cocoa butter mixed in. You get name brand or off-brand. I know everyone is a little gun-shy of petroleum jelly but it’s that or corn huskers lotion, which works but takes forever to dry well enough for you to use your hands.
  2. Don’t be afraid to bandage your fingers. If your nail beds are aching from getting cardboard shoved under your nail, then bandage them up with regular old bandage before bed and for every day after that they continue to hurt. I usually pick up some of the cutesy kid design Band-Aids because they’re at least fun and colorful. And because I’m an adult, I do what I want.
  3. Don’t forget to take your vitamins. I know you’re probably poor if you’re working retail. Me too, man. So I bought some vitamins to help boost what I’m not getting in my diet since I’m mostly eating coffee and McDonald’s fries 4 days a week. Now, I’m not going to say that vitamins will solve all your problems or fix your diet, but the placebo effect of ‘I was healthy, I took  my vitamins’ will help you keep an eye on what you really put into your body, which will come back to helping your skin and nails look better.
  4. Wear gloves in the cold. This is a no-exception rule now. I know that sometimes you don’t think that it’s as cold as it really is and you can manage without a pair of gloves from your front door to the car. But if your area gets as dry as mine, you will feel it sucking all the good hard-won moisture from your hands as you walk the 30 feet from your front door to your car. Then your hands are going to ache all day at work because the cold set into your bones and stole the moisture from your skin causing the skin to crack and old cuts to open up again.

I can’t understand why you would spend $50+ dollars on a manicure and acrylic nails just to go work for minimum wage where 90% of your job requires use of your hands and nails.

I’m just at a loss.

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