"Fine boy, plee cahn do ma nails yah!"
Jacob has been doing manicures and pedicures for about three years now - ever since a 9th grade classmate introduced him to what has become a popular income-generator for young men. They walk the streets of Monrovia with baskets full of nail polish, and are hailed down by women fancying a quick polish change or a full set of nails.
On the street, toenails cost $50 LD (about one US dollar), and fingernails cost $125 LD. In the salons (or "saloons" as we say here) we pay $5 - $10 US dollars or more, with pedicures costing more than manicures. But then, of course, in the salons we get to soak our hands and feet in warm soapy water and have all the rough skin shaved off.
Jacob says he makes about $300 LD on most days, and about $700 on Saturdays. In fact, Saturdays are so busy that sometimes they don't have to walk around, he says. They find a spot to sit, and the women just come on by one after the other.
Jacob is a senior this year at a school on the Old Road, and says although doing nails has helped him pay his tuition, he has no plans to make this his lifelong career.