...The skin around your finger nails turns brown and black. Whatever nail you may have is also dirty looking. Scrubbing with hot soap and water gets about half the grime and grit off. Hand lotion, or olive oil applied before bed helps some. The best solution for grimy fingers and nails? Masochists only for this one. My nails are super short as it is, but I use nail clippers to cut away as much filth as possible. The skin looks dead anyways, and cutting the skin off is painless. Really, it is. It would be useless to have open sores in this line of work, so I only cut superficially. Sadly, I have no clue what to do with the skin on the side of my pointer finger, which look like a busy road map of more dirt. Since the dirt isn't deep enough to cut through, I'm forced to keep washing and waiting for the appearance of grit to go away.
The reason my nails and skin are blackened is from hours of cleaning and picking herbs, for 2 separate events. Even though the herb bunches get rinsed first in a deep sink and colander, there is still enough trace dirty stuff to cause dirty nail.
Another nasty symptom of catering that is definitely freaky: blackened nostrils. How else to say it? Your boogers turn all black. While in the restroom for a break this week, I blew my nose. I had never seen such dry, black crud in a Kleenex. It was not blood, but looked like dried tar from a dirty street. There was a lot of it. The culprit? Hours spent cooking hot, glistening beef appetizers indoors. I kept thinking back to the somewhat oily, extremely hot, beef cooking pan that had tiny segments of garlic and beef in it. There must not have been enough ventilation, and perhaps I inhaled some of the oven's cruddy fumes throughout the event. I wondered if the warm, humid weather (Palo Alto, baby!) made things better or worse. The black boogers kept coming, later that night. My post-event relaxation was definitely cramped. I felt like a mad scientist every time I went to the bathroom and blew, hunched over the sink. Black, dirty tissue is painless but oh-so-gross. More extra hot water and soapy goodness to clean me up, stat!