Learning From Experience (A Cautionary Customer Sevice Tale)
As an individual who has grown up in the Body Modification community; I always considered myself to be pretty knowledgeable about what to look for when dealing with the experience of going to a new piercing (or tattoo) studio. Looking for certification, cleanliness of the environment, and etcetera. I often inquire about the years of experience the individual professional has had, how many years their studio has been in operation - so on and so forth. However, for once in my life - all my prior knowledge and experience failed me when I decided to journey into "Grand Island Ink".
I made the hour-long car ride one evening to have my ear lobes stretched from 7/16" - 1/2", I ready to stretch - the surgical stainless steel eyelet plugs that I had been wearing had been in my ears for over 4 months at this point. They were constantly falling out of my lobes with the slightest of touch; such is the benefit of slowly stretching and keeping my ears clean.
Initially, when I spoke to "Joel" (the owner of this aforementioned studio) - he asked me to provide the jewelery myself. This was fine, as I had previously ordered the newest set of jewelery from Body Art Forms (they were surgical stainless steel eyelets). During our conversation; I was to learn that Joel had been piercing for roughly 11 years at that point and was (seemingly) very knowledgeable about stretching technique. (Although as any modern individual will note, one can learn almost anything from the Internet).
When I arrived at Grand Island Ink, I ascertained information about his certification (which was proudly displayed in his intimate, individual piercing room). Joel seemed like a nice enough guy; he washed his hands, wore clean latex-alternative gloves, cleaned and disinfected the surfaces that his tapers (and my jewelery) were placed upon. Again, everything seemed on the up-and-up until he proceeded to start stretching.
Immediately I noticed the size of his tapers were not long enough to provide an efficient stretch, but I was also cognizant of the fact that different piercers use different (although still healthy) techniques. I allowed this to slide; however Joel didn't follow the taper through, he simply allowed the heavy equipment to rest in my ears until they "fell through". Again, I let this slide (which, in hindsight, I shouldn't have) and he began to struggle with my newest pair of eyelets (they were double-flared). He began attempting to use extreme force - complaining that they weren't the correct size for this stretch. I noticed immediately that Joel had used the wrong sized taper to complete my stretch; and commented that he should attempt stretching them with the correct taper. This is when Joel's approach to "customer service" began to fall apart.
I should probably mention that Joel is in his late fifties (not that I have anything against older piercers), however I noticed he was constantly staring at my chest while he was shakily setting the tapers in place. He commented that if, "I was only forty years younger, I might try and grab them" - he kept asking me about whether or not I had any genital or nipple piercings. I was alarmed by this behavior and told him immediately that I would report him for sexual harassment (if these comments had been made by my former piercer or tattooist - I would have no problem, seeing as we are very close friends). He told me that I didn't know what I was talking about, or how to take care of my piercings, and I noticed that he put his tapers back in a dirty fabric case.
I am quite thankful that I haven't had any medical issues with my ears, considering the way that they were cared for by this "professional" (a term I use extremely loosely) - I haven't had any tears or blow-outs, and I have continued keeping them extremely clean as well as watching for any irregular healing. Following this "incident" my ears were extremely sore, and I was grateful that I hadn't experienced any bleeding - unfortunately, this means I will be waiting ever-longer to complete my next stretch. (My goal, currently, is to reach a full inch).
I have learned from this experience that I will never return to Grand Island Ink - that I will stick with studios that have received excellent recommendations by my friends and body modification family. Perhaps the biggest reason that I am re-telling this story, is to prevent other individuals from having to deal with such ludicrous behavior. I hope that there is something to be learned from my experience, to go with your gut instinct and if something seems off (with regards to your piercers technique or behavior) to begin with - you probably shouldn't continue to allow them to "finish the job".
submitted by: AMFemmeFlesh
on: 21 Dec. 2009
in Ear Piercing