“She’s too old; her hands shake too much.”

With a couple of notable exceptions, most female drivers I’ve talked to don’t like doing the night shift, for good reason. Being hit on is one thing; being hit on aggressively by a large drunk man in your backseat is another. When I caught a ride back from a night out in a bar, I discussed this with Salma, my driver. In Salma’s case, she hadn’t had a negative experience yet, and working these hours fit perfectly with her full-time job at a salon.

I really know nothing about salon work, but I was interested in learning more, so we chatted a little about her job. Salma tried valiantly to explain threading and how to do it optimally with minimum pain. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I had no clue what threading even was. After figuring out that I knew even less than she had suspected, Salma pivoted, and we then wandered into a discussion on make up tattoos, or permanent make up.

Now, I don’t know much, but from what I’ve seen in politics, I apparently can have an opinion on what I know nothing about. I launched into a tirade on how ugly and horrific it was to have permanent make up tattooed. Like…ridiculous, right? Why would anyone do it???

Salma was silent. After I finally ran out of steam, she told me a story about her client, a very old woman who, in her day and age, had been brought up to believe that a lady should always put on makeup and look her best before exiting the house.

“My client can’t do it herself now,” she explained. “She’s too old, and her hands shake too much.” Salma glanced over to check for traffic, then shrugged. “That’s why she wanted her make up tattooed on.”

I felt like an idiot.

Permanent make up had given someone–this old lady I had never met—dignity and a form of independence. It was neither ugly nor horrific, and I should never have judged.  And Salma helped me to see that.

About the artist

Paula Vrinceanu: “I am a Romanian visual artist working in this field for about 10 years now. Before this, I was a pianist: my life has always been an interesting and creative journey. I still play the piano when I have time, but now I’m focusing on visual art. I work in an advertising agency in Cluj, and at night- for few hours ( because, unfortunately, I need to sleep), I freelance and work on my own art business which I’ve started this year.