By Emily Rupe
The majority of my clients are wonderful blessings; dear people that are the back bone of my business and allow me to support my family. And then there is my hemorrhoid, Ms. B., a preverbal pain in my rear, whom even after liberal medical treatment just seems to pop back up at the worst time. Over the six plus years I’ve endured her patronage, I’ve never informed her of job shifts or changes in schedule, but yet she continues to hunt me down like a rabid beast. Apparently, she ALMOST has me trained in the manner of which she would like her 15 pound Maltese to be groomed and would hate to start the process over with anyone else. I’ve been the only stylist for her precious Maggie since the initial puppy trim with another victim—excuse me—groomer, which did not meet her standards. I cringe and die a little inside every time I see that dreaded name on the caller ID and inevitably cave and write her name in the appointment book.
During our lengthy tumultuous relationship, I’ve endured many an outbreak. We’ve regaled over why her pet cannot morph into the petite show specimen of her breed, what is not cute is not acceptable, despite what obstacles would be required to achieve cute, and what exactly an appointment time means. After being chastised and despite bending over backwards, some tweaking (which means I put the dog on the table, make some motions with my back turned, and return) and the questioning of whether I actually groomed, are required. Trust me, after being forced into the haircut she demands, I only wish I didn’t have to claim the work. Every five weeks, for the past six years, I’ve gone through this ritual and barely held my tongue and all for a heavily discounted groom that remains under appreciated.
To say I was less than thrilled to have such upheaval booked the day prior to leaving town was an understatement. This time however, I did stress that if she could please bring in her baby before a certain time, in lieu of her normal 15-30 minutes late, it would be greatly appreciated since I had a mountain of things to get in order before leaving a man-child in charge of homestead and children. Presumably, Ms. B waltzed in, no apology or excuse ushered, five minutes past the magical hour. Probably fissuring a few teeth in the process, I clenched a smile and just let it just roll like water off a duck’s back. I mentally continued to chant that mantra as the plethora of likes, dislikes, and grooming instructions were rehashed. Feeling sufficiently in charge, she decided to finally leave and let me do the same thing I’ve done over and over during this entire relationship.
Restraint was had, over “fixing” her ridiculous hairstyle preferences and the pup was ready to go home. I picked up the phone and made the unpleasant call, only to be reminded upon answer that she prefers that I call from my cell phone (she got the number years ago from a former employer… gee thanks), because she detests change. Despite my faux pas, she still managed to come and fetch her Maggie. After paying and examining the groom, she went through her normal process of rebooking her five week appointment. I sweetly informed her that, next time, her price would go up slightly but still at a $10 discount. I valued her loyalty, but since she’d NEVER had a price increase in six years, I needed to bring her up more in line with the increased cost of living and doing business. Her response was less than thrilled. “Are we the only ones you’re doing this to?! We’ve been with you forever and I don’t see why you’d punish us, but I guess I don’t have a choice.” The foot went in the mouth and I knew after dealing with this dose of my hemorrhoid I’d need a heck of a shot of penicillin.
In a tense calm, we found the date out five weeks later and then a time was to be set. I requested that she please bring in her pet during our normal drop off time of 7:30 am-10:00 am, due to having extra staff during those hours. The gasp she issued forth was deafening. “No! I want 11:30! You know what, I’m just going to have to dwell on this and shop around for something cheaper, since you’ve made this so difficult for me.” I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights. As she stormed out my coworkers swooped in with encouragement. She had shared her lovely belittling attitude with them as well, over the years. The entire staff stared in an uneasy mixture of horror and joy when we realized her vehicle remained in the parking lot for almost half an hour. Round two seemed eminent and my boss was prepared to be tagged into the ring if necessary. Thankfully, she decided to drive her luxury SUV off in a huff.
Thinking the worst was behind us and perhaps our chronic malady had been cured, a deep breath was sighed. The normal jovial attitude was back in celebration. Then in terror, one of the girls screeched, “Emily!!! It’s her SUV… it’s her SUV!!!” All of our heads snapped in the direction of the ominous black luxury SUV pulling into our lot. Instantly, like a brave warrior, I ran to the back in fear. My boss laughs and reaffirms she’s “got this,” although with a note of uneasiness in her voice. The door opens and all of us flop to the floor. It was another client, a wonderful sweet woman, with a pack of pups for boarding. The staff bursts out into laughter over the sense of panic and fright one toxic individual caused. This entire chain of events became a running joke over the next few weeks as we reveled in our success in politely standing our ground.
Just when the ointment had cleared up the rash and we thought we were finally cured… a text appeared on my phone. Remember, some people just detest change! “HMMM. I just wanted to say I’m sorry about the other day. We value you. You’ve been the only groomer to ever do my Maggie and I hate change, so we’d like to get back on your schedule.” Just when you thought there was a cure… darn hemorrhoid.