It was a mall I don't usually go to, which may be why I was slow to run away when the guy from the kiosk approached, muttered something about the Dead Sea in Israel, and handed me to a small woman he claimed was on her first day on the job. She complimented my appearance and asked what I do for a living. Since the honest answer (``I wait to have something to do'') would complicate things I said I was a mathematician. She said she was impressed by how smart I was and then took a rectangular prism covered with different rough surfaces and rubbed my right thumb's fingernail. She explained this block had a simple three-step move to smooth the fingernail and improve its health. I'd never really considered fingernails all that rough, or needing smoothness, and unless I missed something important fingernails are mostly chitin and are about as living as deer horns.
So I did ask what was particularly healthy about it, and she explained it stimulated blood flow under the fingernail and brought vitamins and nutrients. I suppose it's possible being rubbed gets the capillaries under a fingernail going, but I don't know it's all that important. She pointed out this could remove unsightly streaks in my fingernails, which I had never noticed because, well, I'm a guy. She also showed some liquid that looked pretty transparent which could handle my dry cuticles, again something I hadn't considered because I'm a guy. She showed the result of this, which was that my right thumbnail looked more shiny than the left. While I do approve of things being more generally shiny all around it does seem like to get this result requires doing something about it.
Then she turned to the Dead Sea and asked if I knew about it. ``Oh, yes. It's shrinking at an alarming rate,'' although I left off the parts about the economic hardships this caused as previously beachside resorts were now a half-mile or more from the water, as the shrinking at all seemed to surprise her. She explained that it was filled with -- things -- and poured a glop of lotion on my wrist. She apologized that this was too much, but this lotion was waterproof and very good for my hands what with all its Dead Sea minerals. And I could buy the set with the three-step fingernail buffer, the cuticle lotion, and the skin lotion for -- well, normally $59.99, but today for just half that.
I don't think I'll go to that mall that often.
Trivia: Alvah Roebuck sold out of Sears, Roebuck in 1894 for $25,000. Source: The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge.
Currently Reading: To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design, Henry Petroski.