Field Trip to an Animal Hoarder’s House

Let me preface this by saying back in 1999 when this transpired, the term “hoarder” was not known by the general public. People just referred to their loved ones as being a ‘pack rat’ or figured they were lazy slobs who didn’t like housekeeping. Thanks to the tv show “Hoarders”, we now know that hoarding (animals or otherwise) is a mental disorder within the OCD family that is not treatable by medication alone.

It’s extremely difficult & stressful for both the person, as well as their family members who struggle to understand this compulsion. Ongoing professional counseling with a licensed therapist specializing in hoarding is critical to not only identify what triggers these tendencies, but to overcome the shame & learn new thought processes in order to avoid backsliding.


The urge to hoard is very strong & often runs in families. 

After reading a book about the Collyer Brothers of NYC, the 1st documented case of hoarding dating back to 1947 (when they were found dead in their home), my sister & I FINALLY had a word to put towards what was going on in our Mom’s house, plus in the houses of several Aunts & cousins all on our Mom’s side of the family.  For example, the photo (see below) could’ve been taken of our Mom’s kitchen (but thankfully wasn’t).

We know that for the rest of our lives, we both must be vigilant not to let this happen to us & to our homes, too.



Here’s how it all started…. 


I’d been going to a client’s house to do her nails while she was laid up recovering from surgery & I do mean laid up. She could not get out of bed for many months & every 2 weeks I’d faithfully pack up my nail supplies to drive across town in order to do her acrylic fills.

It was definitely a challenge trying to complete 1 hand at a time while the client was laying flat on her back, with me sitting to one side of her bed hand filing everything. Then I’d pack up all my supplies to move around to the other side of the hospital bed (set up in her living room) in order to do her other hand. Then we’d sit & talk some more, so this process took up 3-4 hours of my afternoon on my day off. 


Looking back on it now, I realize she’d have been just fine with a once a month nail service since she wasn’t cleaning house, working or doing anything other than operating the tv remote control & feeding herself. But she enjoyed getting visitors & I had the extra time back then.

On 1 of my visits, her tv was on & the local channel was breaking the news about an elderly lady who neighbors thought may have been dead because of a bad smell, plus she hadn’t been seen in a few days days. When authorities arrived expecting to find a corpse, they discovered she was indeed alive, but got the shock of their lives upon realizing more than 60 cats (most of them wild; the final tally was even higher) were living inside with the widowed lady!


We stopped doing nails & in disbelief we watched the scene unfold on the tv screen.


This was August in Kentucky, which means 90 to 100+ degree blazing heat & humid as all hell. They reported that the woman’s air conditioner had stopped working a year prior after the April 1998 hailstorm, plus her roof & gutters had extensive damage which resulted in massive leaking into her home. And she lived there in denial along with all her many cats.

We stared with mouths agape as the Human Society & the police wearing full HazMat suits complete with plexiglass face masks & air tanks/ventilators were transporting these feral cats stuffed inside cages out of this woman’s home, which happened to be located only a few blocks from my client’s house!

This was the first we’d ever seen such a thing & it was unbelievable. Back then we had not been desensitized to visions of animal hoarding on tv, so we were completely dumbfounded, repulsed & yet mesmerized. Like a car wreck, we just couldn’t look away.


The news reported that every piece of furniture was in shreds, the walls were severely damaged by cat urine along with rainwater, plus at least 1 room’s ceiling had caved in onto the floor beneath it. There were cats in the attic, cats under the house, hairballs & feces carpeting every inch of the floor. One officer said that upon shining his flashlight into the attic, he saw nothing but eyes glowing back at him.

It was said that 1 oscillating fan clogged with 2″ of cat hair was the only source of air & the “extreme odor of cat urine stood in the house like a stone wall”. Most of the female cats were pregnant & carcasses of several kittens were found in closets. The homeowner didn’t know how many cats she had, but thought it was around 20. After this horrifying discovery, her house was deemed unsafe & she went to live with relatives in the next town over.


After that the newspaper reported traps were set out & rechecked daily to catch all of the cats….80 in total, but at least 10 cats were already dead when taken from the home. The rest of the cats were put to sleep because they all had respiratory diseases, plus eye & ear infections caused from inbreeding, lack of veterinary care & from living in the squalid conditions inside the house.

The woman in charge of the Humane Society euthanized the cats there at the house to avoid frightening them even further by forcing them to travel to the shelter. She was quoted as saying “ I cried for these animals. I cried for that woman. She was just lonely, had a big heart & missed her husband”. For those cats, there really was no alternative.

“Most were inbred & as a result had extra toes, eye problems & did not respond well to touch”, she said. “Anytime I had to open a door I would kick it open, step back & wait for the bugs to scatter“. It really was a very sad situation all the way around. I’m sure it deeply affected everyone who dealt with it, including that poor elderly lady & her family.


Then the day eventually came when my client was finally able to stand up, then walk with a walker, then finally walk with a cane & after that her doctor approved her to go for a ride in a car. When we were finished with her nails one day & while her polish was drying, she said “Let’s go find the cat house & you can drive me”!

So we got her situated in the front seat of my car, but had to recline it so far back to make her comfortable that she was almost laying down. This was before cell phones or Google Maps, so we slowly drove up & down the neighborhood until we found what street it was on. It was easy to spot the house, since it still had the yellow police tape all around it & a “condemned” notice pinned to the front door.

We parked in the front driveway & my client wanted to go peer into the windows, but I talked her out of that notion by saying that the ghosts of the dead cats would come back to haunt us. I remember nervously looking around at neighboring houses, just fearing someone would see me & call the police. I’m sure the neighbors couldn’t see the top of my clients head just barely sticking up above my car door & I most certainly didn’t want to risk being recognized by anyone, so we hurriedly left.


We were like 2 giddy kids driving away laughing with relief, as if  we’d just survived the local haunted house & couldn’t wait to tell all of our friends about it or something!

The brick house looked normal, except for the police tape & a 12 foot section of gutter that had come loose from its moorings. 1 end was still attached to the house while the other end was touching the ground. From the front you could not see where the roof damage occurred & the front yard appeared recently mowed. The back yard had a chain link fence around it, a few trees & 1 lone doghouse. Amazingly, we couldn’t smell anything bad with our windows rolled down, which struck us as odd, but maybe the wind was in our favor.


How did it all end, you ask?

Well, the elderly lady was allowed to keep 2 healthy cats (immediately spayed & neutered by the Humane Society). Her 1 lone dog was amazingly in good health, most likely thanks to it living out back in that doghouse & it was put up for adoption. She was given a period of time to assess the house’s damage & make the necessary repairs, but in the end those proved too costly as the urine, feces & water damage was so vast. The house could not be salvaged & many months later it was completely demolished. Someone bought the lot & a new house that looks totally out of place from all the 1960’s neighboring homes now stands there.

A few years later we’d heard thru the grapevine that the elderly lady went to live in a nursing home & by now has most likely passed away.


show Hoarders is fake






“The Client Who Fired Herself”

To this day we still laugh about it whenever the topic of firing clients arises. Here’s how it all started….. I accepted a new client named Mira who had been trying to get on my book for a long time. A vacancy opened up for a standing every 2 week appointment & she jumped on it.

Within a fairly short period of time she started to be 5 minutes late for her appointment. She was self employed like myself, so I figured she was covered up with all kinds of work & 5 minutes wasn’t that big of a deal. But then she started to be 10 minutes late, so we had to have a conversation about the need to be on time.

I shouldn’t have to tell people that because my salon policy is always in plain view & in a nutshell it states that the 1st time you are late, you’ll get an abbreviated service in the time that you’ve allowed me, but you’ll pay full price & your service will end when my next scheduled client arrives.

If you no-show or show up too late for your appointment to transpire at all, you’ll be charged 50% of the service that you booked. The 2nd time you’ll be charged 100% & must prepay before you can get back on my appointment book.  The 3rd time you’ll have to find a new nail tech.

The final straw came when Mira was 40 minutes late one day. I give reminder texts the day prior & she confirmed she’d be there at her appointment time. When she wasn’t, I texted her again to see if she was on her way & to make sure she was ok, but I never received a response.

After 20 minutes I texted my next client to see if she could come earlier, which she could. So while I was waiting for her to arrive & fuming because I’d lost 1 hour of income, I decided to water my salon garden to chill me out. While out on the porch with the hose in my hand, Mira finally arrives in her car. She walks up to the porch all casual-like, smiling really big & wiggles her fingers at me saying “Can you still do my nails now?

I replied “No, I’ve already texted my next client & she’ll be here any minute”. Mira stops walking towards me & says “Well, when can you get me in?”. As I continue watering my potted plants all nonchalantly, I respond “Just as soon as you pay me for tonight’s missed service”.

“But what if I don’t want to pay you?” was what she said next (she’s got big balls!), to which I replied “Well, then you can consider yourself fired & find a new nail tech” (I have big balls, too!).

Her last comment was “Oh”. And then she turned around, walked back to her car, got in it & drove away. I erased her from my appointment book & put the word out to all my clients that I had a standing appointment to fill in case they had a friend who wanted to get in. It was filled in no time flat by a good client who could show up on time.

But the really funny part came 2 weeks later when I was doing the nails of the woman (Jennifer) who had referred Mira to me. I never told anyone about what had transpired because I handled the problem & there was no need to blab about it. But while doing Jennifer’s nails she said “So, I heard you fired Mira”.

“Uh, no. She essentially fired herself” I explained. “I gave her the chance to pay me for her missed appointment & she chose not to, so the way I see it was that she fired herself.” Jennifer started to laugh & I had to ask “Did Mira tell you I fired her?”. Then Jennifer described how Mira had come into her store right after the incident happened & loudly exclaimed in distress “I just got fired by my nail tech!

To which Jennifer’s husband who also works in the store asked “Well, what did you do to piss her off?” 

It’s been at least 5 years ago that this happened & I haven’t had any similar incidents. I’ve run into Mira a few times since then, but I basically don’t even acknowledge her existence. Call me petty, but I take great pleasure in ignoring her presence.

However Jennifer still loves telling that story to everyone, especially to other clients of mine. It’s become the running joke that clients are just a little bit scared of me because they don’t want to be fired & they know I’ll do it if necessary!

we don't sugarcoat shit

THE PREQUEL: about 2 years prior to this incident, my client Sara & I were enjoying touring the Parade of Homes in our town. It’s a yearly event where builders get to showcase their mostly custom work (translation: very large & extremely expensive houses that most of us could never afford) while the paying public gets to meet them & we vote on “Best in show”, “Best kitchen”, “Best Bathroom” etc.

It’s a lot of fun because you get design ideas from the featured interior decorators, plus we can gather info on what company installed which brands of high-end windows/doors,  light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, driveway installation, landscaping, the paint colors used in each room, etc.

While touring one home, we walked into the kitchen & standing there was the interior decorator that I had fired a few years prior. She was “let go” because keeping appointments didn’t jive with her scattered & flaky life. The way I remember it was that we both acknowledged it just wasn’t working out & that she needed to go to a walk-in type of nail salon.

Anyway, she recognized me & saw that I recognized her. That meant we had to speak, so I went first by saying “Hi Tonya. How are you?” and we made brief pleasantries. Then I introduced my client Sara to her by saying “Tonya, this is my client Sara. Sara, this is Tonya, the interior decorator for this home”.

Then Tonya said to Sara “Nice to meet you. I used to get my nails done by her until she fired me”. I was caught by surprise & came back with “Uh, I wasn’t going to mention any of that”, to which she replied “Oh, it’s ok. My therapist fired me, too! I was always late.”

Well, at least she didn’t take things personally.

greatest accomplishment keeping mouth shut

“The Screaming Orthodontist”

In 2008 when the market tanked & massive downsizing was sweeping the nation, my sweet client Penelope’s husband was laid off from his factory job. That made her salary all the more vital while he waited to be rehired or transferred to one of their sister factories out of state. It took almost a year, but his transfer finally came thru, so he moved to get started on his new job while Penelope stayed behind to pack & keep the house on the market until it sold.

Penelope worked for a local, well-known orthodontist here in town who had a lucrative business keeping teenagers in braces. To his patients, he was the fantastic “Dr. Jekyll” & they loved him. But behind closed doors he became “Mr. Hyde” & treated his staff like he owned slaves. He probably would’ve whipped them if he thought he wouldn’t be arrested.

He was extremely verbally abusive & insulting on a daily basis, to both the men & the women who worked in his office, but everyone was too afraid to quit for fear they wouldn’t get another job due to the Great Recession. I soon saw a pattern in Penelope when she’d come in after work to get her nails done & it was not good. She was visibly upset, near tears, flustered & obviously not her normal happy self.

She’d confide that 24/7 she was a nervous wreck, her stomach was in knots & her bowels were in an uproar all the time, plus in addition to being away from her husband, the stress of trying to pack an entire household & get it sold in the depleted real estate market was killing her. Add all that on top of being verbally abused by her boss had made her life a living hell.

3 incidents Penelope told me have stuck with me all these years. Incident #1 was when she asked her boss a work related question & he told her that she was a “nosy old woman” in front of other staff! She had to go find the answer from another source because he wouldn’t respond & she was too afraid to ask again. The 2nd incident involved the boss calling the staff into the back break room one day where he proceeded to scream & use profanities at them! He pounded his fist on the table while he was yelling at them, causing 1 woman to start crying.

When I asked what did the male employees do when this happened, she said they did nothing. Nobody did anything except stand there looking scared. Everyone just took it because their fear of losing their paycheck was greater than their need to stand up for their rights. During this “meeting” while he was having a verbal meltdown & pounding on the table, there came a knock at the back door which was situated a few feet behind him.

Her boss stopped in mid tirade, turned & yelled at the door “God Damnit, who IS it?”! The back door opened a few inches & a man’s hand with a brown sleeve reached thru holding a clipboard with a paper & pen. The boss snatched the clipboard from the hand, scribbled his signature on the paper & thrust the clipboard with pen back into the man’s hand.

The hand retracted with the pen attached to the clipboard & then reappeared holding a small box. The boss grabbed the box & the hand quickly disappeared outside the door again, after which the boss kicked the door shut with great force & continued “the meeting” where he berated each of his employees one by one in turn, calling them out for various & sundry infractions.

Penelope said nobody ever saw the UPS man’s face, but she was sure the guy had to have heard the loud screaming & cursing before he knocked. The poor guy probably squealed tires out of the parking lot & once back at the UPS facility asked to be assigned to a different route after that. He probably went home extremely thankful for his job & the fact that he didn’t work for that big bully.

I was beyond shocked & morally outraged. I could feel my face flushing with anger at how she & the others had been treated. This man had taken advantage of their fear caused by the most devastating financial crisis of our lifetime to abuse his power. He took his power trip out on those who depended on him for their survival & knowing jobs were scarce, he went over the top to create a hostile work environment. Too bad nobody secretly videoed him during his scream fest. That would’ve made an epic YouTube video & been a key piece of evidence in a massive lawsuit.

I told Penelope that the last he’d have seen of me was when I told him to fuck off & waved goodby with my middle finger flying high. Then I’d have walked out of there with my dignity intact singing “Take This Job & Shove It” as I drove 2 blocks down to McDonald’s where I’d have filled out an application. I’d freaking pick up cans out of ditches beside roads to recycle for money before I’d work at that hell hole.

I remember thinking “Thank GOD I do nails for a living & am self employed”! No paycheck is worth what she went thru & the indignities she suffered, of that I am certain. It makes me mad to this day when I think about it because he’s still got a thriving business here in town where most likely he’s abusing an entirely new staff.

The 3rd incident happened at Christmas, when his whole staff was required to work a half day on Christmas Eve. When quitting time came, the boss gave each employee $100 with instructions to go to the mall & purchase something for themselves. Can you imagine the hell that is Christmas Eve at a mall with last minute shoppers scurrying everywhere, harried clerks not in the most festive mood & bare shelves with remaining items torn asunder?

Their orders were as such: they could NOT use the money for groceries or to pay bills (even if they were facing bankruptcy or their cars were about to be repo’d). They HAD to spend all of the $100 AND bring the receipt with the remaining change left over to his house that night so they could all “celebrate” the business’s Christmas party.

At this ‘party’ on Christmas Eve (never mind that they wanted to spend it with their own families), the boss made each of them stand up & show all the others exactly what they had purchased thanks to his generosity, then give him the receipts (no doubt for a tax write off), plus whatever leftover change in bills & coins.

I can’t recall what she said she bought for herself, but it wasn’t something she really wanted or needed. She just bought anything to get the ordeal over with as soon as possible. But it was a fact that nobody enjoyed the command performance that evening except for the boss & possibly his wife. To add insult to injury, they had to all stay to eat dinner with him, too!

Upon her concluding this story at my nail table, I know my mouth was agape & my hand had stopped filing. I swear to God, she wasn’t kidding. And she was too upset for it to be a lie. It’s mind boggling how that man had the utter disregard for another person’s life & it became evident that this reputable orthodontist is undoubtedly a raging narcissist with sociopathic tendencies. 

How it ended was when her house finally sold & they took a big loss just to get out of it. Penelope packed up & was finally free to give notice before moving away. We still keep in touch from time to time thanks to Facebook & my life was made better just by knowing her. The same cannot be said about the orthodontist.

he's a good guy when yo get to know him

“It’s a Small World After All”

You’d think that in a city as big as Chicago, this sort of thing couldn’t happen….but it did.

Back in the 80’s I worked in a small nail salon with the 2 owners, Ramone & Vivienne, who claimed to be brother & sister (they really weren’t, but that’s another story). Our nail tables were all positioned next to each other in one fairly small area so that we all worked side by side.

Everyone heard everyone else’s conversations & many times all of our clients were conversing with each other, as we 3 techs joined in on the hot topics, too. One day Vivienne had a new client, a female cop (out of uniform) in her chair & as they were chit-chatting the woman started pouring out her guts to Vivienne about the sexual harassment she’d been enduring on the force.

According to her she’d been pursued by a married fellow police officer & had shunned his advances, but was now being bothered by him & his buddies on the force. I didn’t hear all of the story, as my table was furthest from Viviennes, but I heard most of it & most likely so did the client in my chair, plus also the client Ramone was working on, too.

Perhaps a week or more had passed when all of a sudden the female cop barged into the
salon decked out in full police uniform. She presented a very intimidating image with her gun in her side holster as she began loudly yelling at Vivienne.

All work came to an abrupt halt as everyone in the room gaped in shock at her red, angry face. She accused Vivienne of disclosing their conversation to someone in her department regarding the sexual harassment she had divulged on her last visit & she was now in trouble with her superiors.

The police woman was mortified that her coworkers knew her personal business & her work life was now unbearable. She let Vivienne know in no uncertain terms that she would never be back & upon having her say, she turned, storming out the door as it slammed behind her. We never saw her again.

Poor Vivienne was so stunned & shaken by the encounter, plus all of us were beyond embarrassed for her. She swore on all that was holy she had never told a soul about their conversation & couldn’t understand how such a thing could have happened. We all truly felt bad about it, but what could we do now? The damage was already done.

I cannot recall how we figured it out, but evidently the client Ramone had been working on that day when the female cop was initially telling Vivienne about the harassment actually knew the man in question (the alleged harasser).  She must’ve told someone else what she had heard that day in the nail salon & it gotten back to him or possibly she told him herself.

Now if this could happen in a large city the size of Chicago, imagine what gossiping could do in a small town?

The moral of the story for clients (& salon staff, too): don’t talk about anything you wouldn’t want printed on the front page of your local newspaper because you never know who else is listening. Take it to your grave or to your priest in confession.

we're networking



“Chlorox was her name”

Several years ago a client told me about one of her new co-workers at the factory. Apparently this pretty young blonde chick was temping there & in the lunch room, in front of God & everyone (that’s Southern for a lot of people, both men & women) she’d talk about very inappropriate things…..such as her breast implants & her anal bleaching.

SCREEEEEEECH! Back up. What. The. Frick?

I’d never heard of “anal bleaching” before then! Thoughts raced thru my mind…..firstly, WHY? Secondly, HOW? Thirdly, EEW!

I’m not sure what was said next because I think my mind couldn’t process how anyone other than a porn star would want to do or have need for such a thing (let alone pay money for it), but I do remember that after that incident this chick’s nickname at the factory (but not to her face) became “Chlorox”.

On subsequent visits & thru further conversations with my client, over the years I accidentally discovered who ‘Chlorox’ was! Without naming names (for legal purposes), I can only say that she used to be a nail tech before she got a divorce & gave nails up in pursuit of other things.

Word gets out in a small town, so I’d heard about it thru the beauty grapevine.  A few years ago this tech had left town without giving notice to the salon owner nor any of her clients that were on her appointment book. She’d left all her supplies there as if she were returning to work & simply moved out of state.

It was so bizarre! The poor salon owner who she booth rented from was left fielding angry complaints from people who wanted to redeem gift certificates (the tech sold the GC’s & pocketed the money since she was self employed) from clients who showed up for their appointments only to discover their tech had vanished.

Evidently she’d moved back at some point & it was always presumed that ‘Chlorox’ was fishing for a new husband at the factory…….one who was much older, near retirement & who’d have a good pension (if you get my drift).


anal bleaching- assholes lighten up



“The Bailout”

I once had a client (age 60+ & still working at a job) who withdrew from her retirement fund to pay off her 30+ yr old son’s debts just to keep him from filing bankruptcy. Silently I thought she’d lost her freaking mind & almost bit my tongue off not to say it. How could she & her husband think this was a good idea?

Being so close to retirement & not having the many years ahead of her that her son did to recoup her investments was mind-boggling. I briefly envisioned my parents/myself in that scenario…. as they gazed upon me with disappointment they’d have said “you made your bed & now you have to lay in it” (meaning “bail your own dumb ass out!”). But then again as a 30+ yr old adult, I’d never have asked nor expected my parents to financially rescue me from the results of my own bad decisions.

Anyway, it staved off the inevitable….for a few years. He went deeply into debt again living his lavish lifestyle & when the market turned in 2008 he lost his job, his house was foreclosed on, but he wouldn’t sell his about to be repo’d _______ (insert brand of extremely expensive car) because he “needed to look good for his next job in sales”. On top of that he/his fiancé were planning a wedding, preceding the unexpected baby that would be arriving soon thereafter. 

When he came around again with his hand out, looking for another bailout, this time his parents were financially tapped out. They refused to drain the last of their retirement savings for him, his car or his wedding. So he planned the blessed event to occur in his parents home (lol) & invited all of his & his fiancé’s friends.

It was winter. And their house was small. Sound pleasant? Nope. Do you think he first asked permission from his folks (the actual homeowners)? Nope. You think he paid for any of the food or alcohol? Nope.

So the day finally came for the wedding & I did her nails on the day prior. When she returned a month later I asked how everything went. What she told me just broke my heart. If I was his mother I’d have taken that to the grave before telling a soul, after I was finished crying my eyes out.

He wanted his mom, his sister & his fiancé to look fantastic for the wedding, so he made appointments for them at one of our local day spas. When they were finished getting pampered & were about to leave, THAT’S when they were presented with the bill (several hundred dollars)!

They all had just assumed he’d already paid for everything, since it was HIS idea & HE was the one who made the appointments for them. His mom barely had enough money to pay for 2 people, so his sister had to pay for her own services. Thoughtless of him? Yes.

But fairly predictable based on his past behavior, wouldn’t you say?
What are the chances that this son will either want to OR be financially able to take care of his parents in their twilight years?

So remember parents….when you raise your children to be prince & princesses, you may think it’s oh-so cute at the time, but eventually you wind up with selfish assholes as adults & you only have yourself to thank for it.

Oh, one more thing that’s MOST important……buy good long-term care insurance now while you’re still financially able & before your first heart attack, stroke or diabetes diagnosis precludes you. It’ll be cheaper & better for you in the long run when weighed against the odds of your offspring actually caring for you.


Time out? no, its a spanking

Lesson #1: Why Not to Drink at Trade Shows (if you care about your career).

Happy 2017! With show season starting soon, this particular story came to mind.

My first (& last) foray into working for a corporation was back in the 90’s when I was hired by a major East Coast beauty supply distributor to work in their showroom. Each year they held a small trade show about an hour from corporate headquarters. Since I was low man on the totem pole that year, I had to stay behind to work the store over that weekend.

When the rest of my coworkers returned, they had all kinds of good stories to tell me, but 1 in particular stuck with me. I’m happy to say that I’m the type of person who learns from other peoples mistakes. Maybe by telling this story it will help some of you avoid this same fate, too.

For those who aren’t in the beauty business, it’s customary for every show to hold a big party the night before the show floor opens for business. At this particular party one of the women who worked in the corporate office (can’t recall which division) had too much to drink. She began hanging all over 1 of the distributorships owners & was telling him how hot he was (very untrue) & how she wanted him (I’m sure she did at the time). To make matters even worse, the man’s wife (who also worked at the corporation) was present at this party, too.

It was evident that she was 3 sheets to the wind, so they called security to come escort (basically carry) the woman back to her hotel room. The hotel was connected to the ballroom where the party & the show were being held. The guards dumped her into her room & left her there, but later they found her crawling down the hallway trying to find her way back to the party!

All I can say is that it was a damn good thing for her that cell phones & social media hadn’t been invented yet. Nowadays, several people would’ve snapped a photo of her drunkenly crawling down the hallway, then hash tagged it “#hotdrunkenmess” & people across the world would’ve known about it before the party even ended. It probably would’ve been made into a scandalous meme & gone viral, too.

Believe me, it was THE talk of the whole corporation because you know how word spreads when people make fools of themselves in public. A few weeks later we heard that woman’s name being called over the loudspeaker to report to the owner’s office. All of us in the showroom looked at each other & went “Uh-oh”! She was only with the company a few more weeks after that. We figured that she was told to find a new job & they graciously allowed her to leave quietly with whatever dignity she still had intact. We never heard or saw her again.

Since then I’ve been to several show parties & have only encountered 1 educator that was way too tipsy. When you’re slurring your words, you are WAY too tipsy. I made a mental note to avoid this man in the future because he obviously does not use good judgement.

The moral of the story: never drink alcohol at a business function, even if it’s free. The price of your reputation being ruined is just way too high.



“The Egg Rolls”

     Judy was a client of mine who as best I can describe was a stocky, weathered, no-nonsense country grandma. She was as nice as can be, but unless she was smiling she always seemed to have a perpetual “I’ll beat you down if you look at me sideways” scowl on her face. Plus she had gotten to that age when some women just don’t give a flip anymore. They’ve put up with enough B.S. over the years & they just say whatever is on their minds (regardless of the Southern manners their Momma’s taught them), if you know what I mean?

     As I was doing her nails one day, she recounted this story to me about how she loved this certain brand of egg rolls, but her local grocery store had stopped carrying them. She hunted around town until she found another store that carried them & as luck would have it, she also found some coupons for the egg rolls in the local paper, too.

     So one day on her lunch break she drove over to the poorer section of town where this other store was located, just to get her favorite egg rolls. As she was standing in this very long line, she notices that there’s only 1 register open. As the line slowly moved along, she can hear the young clerk apologizing to the customers while ringing up their products. Apparently the other employees were all on their lunch breaks, leaving her as the sole lane open.

     Judy said that the line grew even longer behind her & she could hear people sighing with frustration. One white dude was talking on his cell phone, a Mexican man was just standing in line looking around, some other random white woman was behind the Mexican man, while 2 black girls at the back of the line were talking loudly about how “this was bullshit”, “why was this taking so long” & how the “store needed to open up another register“, etc. etc.

    Finally it was Judy’s turn & the young clerk apologized for the delay as she hurriedly rang up all of Judy’s many egg roll boxes. The poor girl was sweating & moving as fast as she could because she knew the people in line were getting annoyed. When Judy was told her final grocery bill, that’s when she realized she had forgotten to give her the coupons!

     So Judy apologized & quickly was digging the coupons out of her purse as the clerk was probing buttons on the register to re-ring her order, when one of the black chicks from the back of the line said VERY loudly “Oh, sure…. NOW miss WHITE ass is using COUPONS”!

    Judy looked up at the clerk & said “No she just did not just say that, did she?” & the clerk darted her eyes away as she rang up the coupons. Everybody in line got quiet, as if all the air was sucked out of the room. Judy turned around to face the people in line, looked straight at the 2 girls at the back of the line & said equally loudly “Oh sure….and MISS black ass is probably using FOOD STAMPS!”

     Someone let out a gasp & the one black girl turned to her friend & busted out laughing saying “Giiirrrllll…YOU got TOLD!” And with that nobody said another word as Judy paid for her egg rolls & left the store.

get over it

“To feed or not to feed?”

My client Melanie had been with me for about 2 years & had recently given birth to her 2nd baby. Melanie was fanatical about keeping her nail appointments & would bring her newborn with her, which then always made me run late because inevitably the baby would need tending to.

On this particular day while I was doing her manicure, the baby started to get fussy & needed to be fed. I was still trying to build my clientele & needed every warm body in my chair, therefore I tried to accommodate her when she wanted to breast feed the baby in the middle of her nail service. Yes, you read it right…IN THE MIDDLE OF HER MANICURE!

We draped the lightweight baby’s blanket over the head of the feeding baby & positioned it over Melanie’s shoulder so that nothing improper was showing. She cradled the baby with one hand while I tried to work one her other hand. Can you imagine how difficult it was to keep her from smearing her wet nail polish as she balanced the baby that was attached to her boob AND tried to keep the blanket in place? This was the first, the last & the only time we ever attempted this.

It was at that precise moment the UPS man came to deliver a package & at the same time another employee must’ve had the back door open to take out the trash. As the UPS man pulled open the salon’s front door, it created a vacuum suction effect, which caused some interior salon doors to suddenly slam shut. At the same time a huge gust of wind blew forth from the open front door, snatching the baby blanket completely off Melanie & blowing it up into the air!

The blanket landed about 3 feet across the room, leaving Melanie’s naked breast fully exposed, complete with the attached baby who proceeded to happily keep on feeding. The UPS man was MOR-TI-FIED, along with the receptionist, me & Melanie herself!

I jumped up from the nail table, grabbed the blanket from off the floor & positioned it to cover the baby’s head/Melanie’s boob again. She took this opportunity to stop feeding & got herself together so that I could finish the manicure. The UPS man left the package with the receptionist & promptly fled the building. Melanie couldn’t leave fast enough either.

After they’d all cleared out, the receptionist & I tried so hard not to crack up, but after closing time we laughed hysterically. For about a week, every time we made eye contact we’d bust out laughing!

The moral of the story: I support your right to breast feed in public as long as it’s not done at my nail table!


The Recovering Alcoholic & the Nail Competition

“The Recovering Alcoholic & the Nail Competition”


Candy was a good hearted ‘biker chick’ kind of a woman, in her thirties, with a good figure & a short blonde bob when I first started doing her nails. She was the type of person that people, especially men, would take advantage of because she had the need to please everybody & a heart of gold. Alcoholism was unfamiliar to me at that time & I’d never actually thought much about it before then. One night Candy came in to get her nails done & by the way she was slurring her words, it soon was evident that she had been drinking.



After her nails were finished, she stumbled around the salon looking at polish & other boutique items. By the look in my eyes the 2 owners could tell that I didn’t know how to handle the situation, so they both stepped in & directed her out the door. It was done in a friendly, but forceful, manner & since she wasn’t a mean drunk she happily went out into the night. A short while later I discovered that a bottle of polish was missing from the display case & we all knew where it went. The owners said they’d handle it & that was that.


About 2 weeks later when Candy came in (thankfully sober) the owners took her aside after her nails were done & told her what had transpired on her last visit. She was embarrassed & was more than willing to make restitution, so all was good. Many months went by & I didn’t think any more about it. Whenever Candy came in we always talked, laughed & had a good time at her appointments. Then I decided to enter into a nail art competition at the Midwest Beauty Show (now called America’s Beauty Show aka ABS), which would require much practice & the need for a hand model. Candy had great nails so I asked her if she’d like to be my model for that day & she was more than happy to do it.


On the day of the competition I picked Candy up in front of the salon & we drove out to where the show was held. It’s a pretty big show, with thousands of licensed beauty attendees & professional hair, skin & nail companies holding classes & demos going on at the hundreds of booths. Every beauty professional who’s worth anything goes to this show at least once in their career. It’s a place to see & be seen, plus make new business contacts, so you want to be at your best.


The competition went forward & it took several hours to complete. Models have to sit patiently & quietly while competitors work on their nails….which means, no eating, drinking or smoking, too. This category I’d entered was for flat nail art, which meant I had to paint tiny little scenes with acrylic paint on each of Candy’s 10 fingernails. Our models could only leave when the judges were totalling up the scorecards, so at that point Candy went out into the lobby to have a smoke (yes, they allowed smoking in the lobbies back in early 90’s) while I remained inside the competition room.


It took another half hour or so to finish all the judging & I didn’t win or place, which was disappointing. When I walked out into the lobby, the first thing I saw was Candy sitting on the edge of a big easy chair with her feet propped up on the coffee table. Since she was wearing a black leather mini skirt, sitting in this position made it possible for EVERYONE in the room to see her white panties! There was a grouping of 3 other easy chairs surrounding this glass coffee table, the kind of arrangement you’d see in a hotel lobby, & I was MORTIFIED to see all the surrounding chairs were taken by other beauty professionals……all of whom were seemingly enthralled by the scene that was unfolding!


Some stylists were even sitting on the arms of the chairs while Candy held court with a cigarette in one hand & a cocktail in the other. Unbeknownst to me, there was a cash bar at the end of the lobby & Candy had been drinking the entire time I was inside for the judging process! Inside my mind was screaming “OH, NOOOO!” as I rushed up to Candy to try to hustle her out of the building, fearful of what she’d already said to my peers.


The story she was telling was every bit as trashy as I’d feared. I walked in on the part where she was telling everyone how some guy she knew pulled a gun on her & she was waving her hand around as if she were holding a gun & pointing it at people, while ashes were spilling onto the carpeted floor from her lit cigarette. I can’t recall the rest of the story because my mind blanked out, but she insisted on telling it even though I tried repeatedly to get her to leave. I just wanted the floor to open up & swallow me at that point; I could’ve just died!


I still remember the look on the other professionals faces though. One guy looked away, as if to find a quick exit. Some of the other women had looks of “you poor creature” or “thank God I’m not you” on their faces. One girl’s expression was akin to the look you’d have if you just stepped in dog poo while wearing your best shoes. I felt like crawling out of there; I was so beyond embarrassed.


I finally managed to get Candy out of the building & back to the car, but then on the drive home she began freaking out about how her boyfriend was going to be mad at her for falling off the wagon. She would not let me drop her off at her car until she had some coffee, so we drove through a fast food place & she slowly started to sober up. Very slowly.  Too slowly for me. We got back to the salon, but she still insisted I drive her around until she was completely sober, so around & around the block we drove for the better part of an hour.


Finally I got her out of my car & sped off, not looking back. At the time I was so upset I really didn’t care if her boyfriend beat her butt because that’s what I felt like doing to her myself! I could not get away from her fast enough. The more I thought about it, the more pissed off I was. All I could say at the time was thank heavens none of those beauty professionals knew me! After that incident, I didn’t see her for a long time, which was fine by me. The sooner I forgot the whole sordid mess, the better.


Several months passed & Candy finally showed up to get her nails done. I acted as if nothing happened, but knew I’d never go out in public with her again. She had gotten back into AA, gotten rid of her abusive boyfriend & seemed to be doing better. She was trying to keep away from all of her bad influence friends & that was hard on her. Finally she met a decent man who was also in AA recovery & they started seeing each other. She said he treated her really nice & I was genuinely happy for her. We took up doing her nails just like old times where we laughed & had fun conversations.


Months later Candy & her boyfriend got into an argument & they didn’t speak for a few days. She was determined that he would make the first phone call to apologize. After about 4 days she got word that the police found him dead in his apartment. He’d died of a massive heart attack on Mother’s Day & laid there until his work reported him missing. Candy was emotionally devastated & fell off the wagon. Some people it seems just never catch a break.


A short while later I moved out of state & never saw her again. I think about Candy from time to time, especially around Mother’s Day & I hope that she’s okay. It’s like an ongoing mystery, which could either have a good ending or a bad ending. I prefer not to know for certain, but I like to think in positive terms.