I live in a semi-depressed old coal mining area in northeastern PA. There are several higher-end spas around that my friends go to to get their nails done, but I personally like the little stripmall "LA Nails" place (when I go like twice a year to get my nails done. haha).
It is cheaper, but I mostly go there because it forces me out of my comfort zone. Of course it's easier to pay a bit more and sit and chat with the nail tech about local sports or the weather or the latest mall store to open. It is a totally different ballgame to have a slight asian man working on your nails, answering your (hopefully) friendly queries about his life. The man I saw last week has been in the US for one year. In his mid-30's, he was a high school teacher in Vietnam; he taught psychology. Here (he's married with a son) he works doing nails and hopes to save money. I told him our local college has night classes that he could look into, but another guy who was sitting nearby (playing games on his ipad and who spoke much better english) jumped in and rather brusquely told me that it's too hard-- he doesn't speak enough english to do well in the night classes, and he doesn't have enough money to get tutored in english. Maybe in 5 years, he, said, he will have saved up enough to go back to school. Maybe. But even then, it's very hard.
It was hard not to feel the helplessness of this man's situation. Such a bright mind... and for what? Doing nails the rest of his life?
I asked him if he minded the snow here and he said no. He misses Vietnam but it's better here. It's hard to imagine the scope of the challenge ahead of him, but I suppose that's the American dream-- if you work hard, anything is possible.