By Bonnie Wonders
Although there are times when I just can’t, I usually take walk-ins for nail cutting. Last Wednesday was a particularly busy day, and I was letting the answering machine pick up quite a few calls as I tried to stay on schedule with all of the appointments.
At one point, the phone rang, and I let it go to the machine. The person hung up. A split second later, it rang again, and I still didn’t answer. This caller hung up again when the recording came on. This happened about five or six times within the next three minutes. Finally, when the phone rang the next time, I was at a point where I had a free hand to answer it. “Wonders Sassy Pup,” I said into the receiver.
“Do you cut dog toenails?” a woman’s voice asked rather loudly.
“Yes, I do,” I replied.
“Can you do it today?” she asked again too loudly.
“Sure. Just be here before 6:00,” I told her.
“Are you next to Maggie Mae’s?” she asked.
“Yes, in the same parking lot,” I told her.
“That’s a bar,” she informed me, as if I didn’t already know.
“Yes, it is,” I said, matter of factly.
“Are you the one across the road from the Dairy Queen?” she also asked.
“Yes, across the road from Dairy Queen and next to Maggie Mae’s,” I said, rolling my eyes at the dog that was sitting patiently on the grooming table.
“You’re right up the road from the Harley Davidson place aren’t you?” she asked.
“YES,” I said equally as loud as she was.
“Oh, okay. Do you know what time they open?” she asked me.
“I really have no idea,” I told her, beginning to get a little annoyed.
“That bar next to you has good pizza,” she told me out of the blue, as if I actually cared.
“Okay.” I responded flatly.
“How much is it?” the woman asked.
“I don’t know. I really don’t get food there.” I said.
“What?” the woman responded.
“I don’t get pizza at the bar. I have no idea how much it is,” I told her as I stood there shaking my head.
“No, I mean to get the dog’s toenails cut. How much is it?” she said in even a louder voice.
I just wanted desperately to get off the phone by now. “Five bucks,” I said hurriedly.
“Wow… wow… Is that for each toenail?” she asked.
“No, it’s for all of them. All four feet, the whole dog, as many toenails as it has will be five bucks plus tax,” I said, figuring that I would have covered every conceivable question that this loon could possibly have about these stupid toenails. I was really losing my patience now.
“You didn’t say there would be tax the first time,” she said.
“There’s tax on everything here – services and products. It’s all taxed,” I told her. “I’m sorry, but I have to get off the phone now. I have a dog that needs my attention. Just stop before 6:00 if you want it done,” I told her.
“Wait, what about the dew claws?” she asked.
“They’re included in the price,” I said.
“So will it still be five dollars and tax?” she asked.
OK. Now I really had it with this lady. There must be a hidden camera somewhere in here for this actually to be real, I thought briefly. Somebody had to be putting this lady up to this as a joke on me as payback for one of the myriad of things that I’ve done in jest to others.
“Did you hear me? Is it still five dollars and tax?” she asked again.
“Yes,” I said again as I leaned on the grooming table next to the dog that was now lying down, waiting for me to bring my attention back to him. Even he was rolling his eyes upward looking at me. “She’s nuts,” I said to him as I covered the voice piece of the phone with my other hand. “Goodbye,” I said, abruptly ending the call as I immediately hit the off button. I was done with this woman.
Before I started back to work on the dog, however, I pressed the caller ID on the phone. I jotted down the last caller’s number and knew I wouldn’t be answering if I saw the number come up again. I then turned my attention to the dog on the table. As I was scissoring his feet, my sister walked in.
You would have to know my sister to understand our relationship. She can be remarkably a lot like the toenail woman on any given day. I think it has a good bit to do with how well she adheres to her anxiety medication schedule. She says what she thinks, when she thinks, and WHEREVER she thinks it. Store, restaurant, bank, the Vatican… You get my drift. When she’s having a good day, however, she is as sweet as a circus peanut. She appeared quite charming today until the phone rang and she heard the caller’s message, that is.
It was the toenail lady again. As the phone rang, I saw her number on the display. This was her message: “Hello? This is the lady with the dog that needs his nails cut. Hello? Answer your phone. Come on, answer the dang phone. Well, you can call me back right away. I’m waiting on you. I need to know when I can bring him in.” She had seemingly ended her message, and then my sister and I both hear her say plain as day to someone, “The heck with her!” which apparently was meant for me.
Not that I was impressed by this message, but I suddenly knew that my sister should have had an extra dose of her meds. She freaked. “What kind of message is that!?” she yelled at me. “Did you hear how she talked?” she asked as she stuck her rather long finger into the side of my arm. (I just knew I’d bruise from that one.) “How dare she have that attitude! Is she nuts or what?” my dear sister said.
“Yes, I think she is,” I replied as I backed ever so slightly away from her still raised finger.
“Well, she’d better not show up here. You’re not really going to call her back, are you?” she asked as both her eyebrows and ears went up.
“Calm down,” I replied. “I told her twice that she could come in before 6:00, so there’s no point. I’m not that hard up for five bucks,” I said.
“Five dollars?” she said. “I’d charge somebody like that $50!” she added.
“Okay, whatever,” was my only response. I just wanted to get my sister off the subject and get back to working on the dog at hand.
I changed subjects tactfully by telling Maryanne that her hair looked exceptionally good today. That was a sure-fire way to get her onto something else. It worked. She went on and on about how she had changed the color or cut or something. I really wasn’t listening very well. I do know she had started a conversation (mostly with herself) about some sort of office chair with expandable arms.
Then it happened. The front door fairly burst open, and before I saw anything, I heard a voice that I knew I recognized…Toenail Lady.
“Hey! Hey! I’m here. Hey!” she bellowed. Before I could take the dog that I was working on off the table, my sister was on her way out of the grooming room and around the corner to get out front. Eewwee. I just knew this wasn’t going to be pretty.
“There’s no need to yell. My sister will be right out,” Maryanne said.
“I came in to get my dog’s toenails cut. I called, and she didn’t call me back,” the woman said.
“Oh! So you’re the one! You know, I was just hanging around here and heard your message. It was very demanding and rather nasty of you. I heard what you said in the end of it, too. It wasn’t nice at all. That’s not how a lady should talk,” my sister admonished her.
By this time, I had put the dog away and had made it out front. I was right. It wasn’t pretty. The woman was several feet wide and must have been pretty close to six feet tall. My sister is also pretty tall but is about as big around as a fence post. It was going to be like a bear getting into it with a Greyhound. I think my sister could have out run her, but she’d need to have a clear shot to the parking lot. Thank God she’s got those artificial hips now. Me, I’m not much of a runner anymore. I’d be more in the submissive peeing position if it got ugly. I really didn’t want to have to go there with this woman. I needed to take charge of the situation right now, or my sister was going to get both of us beat up…badly.
“Who are you?” the woman asked, squinting at me as if there were 60 feet between us rather than about nine at this point. “Are you the one who’s gonna cut this dog’s toenails?” she asked gruffly. She then took a step toward me and tripped on the rope that she had attached to the dog’s collar. I swear I thought she was going to go head first into a giant display of cow ears. She caught herself on the edge of the wire display crate, though, and cow ears went flying across the room as she tipped it over. Her dog just collapsed on top of a pile of them. He was a huge brute of a thing. Someone had shaved him down, and for whatever reason, it wasn’t too classy of a job. It really didn’t matter to me, though. I just wanted to get his nails done and get him and his owner out of there.
“Yes, I’m the one who will cut them for you,” I said to the woman as I focused back on her question.
“Then you’ll need this,” she said, handing me a chunk of rope that looked like it had come off a fishing vessel or something. The thing must have been about six inches thick and a couple feet long.
“What’s this for?” I asked innocently, really not having the slightest clue.
“To tie his mouth shut,” she said, looking at me as if I were the stupidest blonde on earth.
“Does he bite?” I asked at this point.
“Might, might not,” she said. I looked at the rope that she had just given me, and there was no conceivable way that I was going to be able to get it on the dog’s face.
“I’ll just use a muzzle,” I said to the woman, handing her rope back to her.
“I’d rather you use this,” she said, trying to hand it back to me.
“Believe me, one of our muzzles will work much easier,” I told her, not taking the rope back from her. I went into the grooming room and fetched a large mesh muzzle for the beast. I figured I’d just take care of him out front since he seemed perfectly content to lie on the floor out there.
“Don’t go choking him,” the woman admonished me before I even got close enough to put the muzzle on the dog.
“My sister will not choke your dog. She knows what she’s doing. Do you have any idea how many dogs she’s worked on?” Maryanne said, jumping into the conversation. “You don’t need to be so bossy,” she added.
Oh, geez. Here it comes, I thought as I looked at the woman. She was going to choke one of us with that stupid rope of hers. I was praying she would go after my sister first. After all, she was the one with the big mouth.
“How many?” the woman said, thrusting her face forward at Maryanne.
“Huh?” Maryanne said.
“How many dogs?” the woman said again.
“How many dogs, what?” my sister asked, staring at the lady.
“Great time to lose your train of thought, Maryanne,” I said silently to myself. “Lots of dogs, thousands,” I interjected into the conversation. “I’ve done thousands, okay?” I said to both women.
I reached down, and without any grief from the dog, I placed the muzzle on his face. “He can’t breathe,” the woman said.
“He can breathe just fine,” I assured her. “It’s only going to take two minutes anyhow, and I’ll be finished,” I added. As promised, I was done in a flash, and the dog couldn’t have cared less. “All done,” I said to the woman as I stood back up. “See, he didn’t mind it at all,” I threw in.
“I guess not. You choked him with that thing on his face. He can’t breathe,” she added. “Take it off before he goes unconscious,” she instructed me in a hot tone.
I reached down and unsnapped the muzzle. The dog still showed no concern. “He is perfectly okay,” I said to the lady, just wanting her to leave.
“I’ll sue you if he dies,” she told me matter of factly. I looked at her incredulously.
“Are you kidding?” I asked her. “He’s FINE,” I said again, this time dragging out the word.
“No, she’s not kidding. She’s a nut case!” my sister said right in front of her.
“What?” the woman asked, turning to face my sister head on.
“Oh, crap. I need a panic button alarm thing. For sure we are going to be in tomorrow’s paper,” I thought to myself in rapid succession. “There is really no need to put my sister in my will, seeing as how we will both be killed by this woman at the same time,” I thought. And to think my mother had always favored my older sister. So much for her lack of judgement on picking the smarter sister to baby.
“How about if you just pay me for the nail clipping, and you can be on your way?” I said in a fake cheery tone.
“I think you talk pretty big,” the woman said, glaring at my sister.
“Just stop it. Let it go, and get out of here, okay? I need to get back to the other dogs, and I really don’t have time for all this,” I said, trying to take charge of the whole situation. The woman put the money she owed me down on the counter without taking her eyes off my sister.
“You really think you’re something, don’t you?” the woman asked, stepping toward Maryanne. Wisely, my sister took a backward step, which put her close to the door.
“I,” my sister said, “am a lady.” With that, she spun around on her fake hips and swiftly stomped out the door that I was holding open for her.
The woman yanked on her dog’s rope and waddled out right behind her. “I will sue you if he dies,” the woman said in my direction as she went out the door.
I looked out the window to see my sister starting to get in her vehicle. Then she just had to go and start pointing at the woman as she approached her own car. I saw her mouth start running again, and I suddenly found myself hoping that she had the foresight to put me into her will. I really like her china closet… “