I had just hired her. She was older and a bit overweight but energetic and in a busy groom shop, energetic is a plus. Her name was Annie but we called her Red, as both her hair, nails and truck were cherry bomb red.
A new client came in for her appointment for Lucky, a Yorkshire terrier. They say the owners look like their dogs and this lady looked a lot like the scraggly beast she handed to us.
Tangled, matted and filthy, the dog's teeth, the ones still in her mouth, were a rotting shade of green. One tooth jutted out to the left and her tongue flopped out on the right.
Red volunteered to groom Lucky, and as the day went on, she became increasingly emotional over the dog's condition. It wasn't until she actually stole the dog, yes, took it home, that I realized my mistake.
All she ever talked about since being hired was her "yorkie babies". If she wasn't bitching about her husband, she was bragging about her four-legged wonders.
When the owner came to get her little Yorkie, the fun began.
On one side of the counter was Lucky's mom, yelling at everybody in sight and in the corner was the store manager on the phone, pleading with Red to come back,
preferably with the dog.
A day later, the manager convinced Red to return the dog by threatening her with arrest and jail. The thought of jail did it, who's going to take care of her precious pooches while she's in the clink?
I'm a soft-hearted person, which makes for a very poor manager. I liked Elaine as soon as the interview began. She was articulate, intelligent and had a sense of humor, albeit dark.
Elaine was also a recovering crack cocaine addict. I bought the story, hook, line and sinker. She was living in a halfway house with three other addicts, far away from her home turf of Oakland, the drug capital of northern California. I can save this soul!
We had long talks while bathing the dogs, everything from her children and husband to her previous grooming experiences. She purchased a large amount of grooming equipment and seemed serious about the job.
I didn't notice the increasingly higher prices she was charging for haircuts or that she had stopped mentioning her kids. Elaine phoned her mom about the new job saying "and I have to be NICE to people." I thought that was funny, knowing what a pain in the ass customers can be.
Then one day she never showed for work. A bouquet of flowers stood on my grooming table. Two days later, I was still waiting for her to return when she called, " I just couldn't do it anymore." Oddly, her husband had just given her a used car so she didn't have to take the bus anymore.
All her equipment and tools were neatly arranged in the toolchest, at least $500 bucks worth. The blade sharpening guy was livid when he realized her large debt was never going to be paid. That was the last time I saw him too.
About the author
- Author Marcia Kreutzmann is the second child of William Kreutzmann and Janice Shaughnessy. Born in Palo Alto, California in 1960, her parents divorced in 1966 and she grew up in her mother's homeland of Biloxi, Mississippi, For more than ten years, Marcia straddled, sometimes unsuccessfully, the two very different worlds of the conservative Deep South and counterculture California.