On particular mornings, the sun beams, a choir of birds serenade, and my soul is full of boundless optimism and goodwill toward my fellow earthly inhabitants. Then there are those mornings. Those mornings, which more often than not, fall on Saturdays. Mornings where I emerge already depleted over a work week and just pray to get through this last day as smoothly as possible. And of course in this less than Zen state, the universe in all its humorous glory, decides to test my verbal fortitude.

Birkenstock Betty is one of these epic tests in character and compassion. Now, I’m all about new age, holistic healing, and am a practicing Buddhist. Although, I’m by no means enlightened; I attempt to live with gratitude and patience as much as possible. So when Betty first strolled into the shop, I was not judgmental whatsoever.

Without waiting for personal boundaries to lower or familiarity to set in, she instantly issued speeches on her spiritual nature, holistic demands, and her ability to speak to her animals. One of which is a Ritalin Bichon, whom apparently with her high pitched chimpanzee like speech forgets to tell her mother to brush her. Initially, while as a shop we might not all prescribe to the same outlooks, we assumed that at least we would have the pleasure of a gentle soul that embodied the love and gratitude that the majority of new agers embrace. It didn’t take long until the desperate need for holy water, sage, and all manner of negativity banishment became apparent.

Without fail, this self-proclaimed Sage enters with the most negative, hateful aura about her. Perhaps mentally purging the numerous times we catered to her whims, she either harps on one of our perceived shortcomings or goes into a personal tirade about the many injustices she has fallen privy too. Her step daughter is a horrid, nasty, witch that she continually must “impart” lessons to. Thus, by her own grace and divine providence is allowed to exist, and yet wonders why the teenager is pleading to live with her biological mother.

As if she has not been burdened enough by her blended family, her health has garnered some issues and finances are not always to her likings. In the years we’ve groomed her white monkey, I have not once heard a positive word, thankful blessing, or any cognizance that perhaps, just perhaps there are others in this universe that suffer just as much if not more than herself.

On one of THOSE mornings, of course a Saturday, she once again reinforced the narcissistic nature of her persona. Thirty minutes prior to “official” opening (we get there early to set up and prepare) she hurriedly rushes in with her full crew of dogs; a white monkey, an unaltered possessed Schnauzer, and an arthritic but dear Dachshund. In typical fashion, the monkey has kept its mouth shut about its coat upkeep and is a matted mess.

Before I could even issue a pleasant, although superficial greeting, Birkenstock Betty spouts off about how we dare not shave her chimp. Money is not an issue and we shall follow her wishes at any expense. Trying to be good little Buddhist, I took a few deep breaths through a tense smile and found my happy place. A happy, tranquil place, that of course was far away from the black hole of negativity that stood before me. Then just when, mentally, I was hearing the birds sing and feeding my koi, she jolts me back with another “inquiry.”

“My children aren’t going to have to be here all day, am I right? Because, last time they were here far too long, and on this day I have a hair appointment and must chauffer someone to the airport.” Now granted I am aging, but I am by no means senile and clearly remember the last time we had the pleasure of rendering her grooming services. Yes, the crew stayed longer than planned, but due in great part to the monkey needing ample de-matting and her inability to return to claim them.

Despite my vivid recollection of the previous visit, I merely smiled and assured her they would all three be ready before lunchtime. Then as an extra reassurance, I promised to call the moment she could pick them up, so that she could go about her burden laden, stressful day, unhindered.

Good to our word, and after a groomer spent more than should be required effort de-matting a Bichon, we called a good hour and a half premature to the promised time. However, the greeting on the other end of the line was less than welcoming as we were “bitch buttoned” to voicemail. Not trusting that our responsibility for any late departure was evaded, we then texted Betty to forfeit any possibility of liability. And then we sat and waited and watched.

Hours passed and no Betty to claim her precious pups. We continued to tackle the other clients, who too had made appointments, but were moved back in the queue to placate her demands. The verbal agreement hour eventually passed as well, and yet the trio still remained in their kennels. Personally, I was beginning to wonder if this “all day” was some form of measuring time in another dimension, because obviously she wasn’t grasping our schedule.

Then without explanation or guilt, waltzed in Birkenstock Betty midafternoon, whom promptly paid and continued her silence. We of course went to fetch her children, and sighed a breath of relief that the Bichon, thanks to nothing short of a miracle, embodied the visual aesthetic she required. Falling prey to curiosity, I could not resist the urge to mention we’d attempted to reach her earlier since we understood the deep concerns about the amount of time her babies spent in our care.

“Oh yeah, I got your messages, but I had things to do. However, I just like knowing I am able to get them when it’s convenient to me.” With that kind, compassionate response, I just gratefully watched her walk out the door.  It was going to take a lot of meditating, incense burning, crystal energy, and praying to atone for the thoughts she provoked in my psyche. ✂