Dear Customers at the Tattoo Shop Where I Work,

Why won’t you listen to my suggestions? Why do you shake your head and say no when I politely but firmly tell you, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea—how about something like this? Or this?”

To the girl(s) with the uterus outlined on her lower belly: I know you were frustrated that I was obsessing with the fact that your drawing wasn’t even anatomically correct. It’s just that, no matter seriously I take my job, I couldn’t think of a better way to tell you that there is a good chance that in twenty, nay, two years, you will regret needing to explain your tattoo to others. And you didn’t even care that the art was three times larger than a real uterus and many inches too high on your belly.

To everyone, every day, who wants kanji: why? Why? You don’t know anything at all about Japanese or Chinese culture. The Japanese language doesn’t even really have plurals, so how can you expect me to show you the word “sisters” in one pretty, convenient symbol? I know it’s an easy thing to choose, this exotic, alien, truly beautiful symbol that sometimes happens to sum up a feeling or word, but when you ask me to “show you the sign” for “like, love, and life, and stuff,” why are you insulted when I gape at you? I am not sure you appreciate the fact that I never, ever lie and show you kanji for something like “abject failure” or “infected fluids.” Shout-out to the girl who wanted the Japanese kanji for “luck” to represent her Irish heritage.

To everyone that asks me if tattoos hurt: for the last time, I’m telling you I don’t know where that rumor got started.

To the eighteen-year-old kid who wanted the Jaegermeister logo: unlike my coworkers, I would have said yes, definitely. Corporate nods will only get you further in life; indeed, they only prove your respectability and integrity. However, may I recommend Smith Barney? They have a long-standing superior service record and are leaders in their industry (investments).

To all of the parents that get portraits of their babies, or rather, to anyone who has ever noticed the preponderance of tattoos of baby’s faces: why does no one get portraits of their teenage children?

And finally, to everyone that never tips: we always remember.

S.K. Williams