Archive for the ‘Autism’ Category

Why I Write Erotica

January 18, 2020

From the Museum of Erotic Art in Barcelona Spain

Me—from a pose in the 1980s. Justin Goh did the background.

I’ve always been a decent writer.  I wrote to my boyfriend before he became my husband (he moved away 8 weeks after we started going together), I wrote to a guy who I wanted to be my boyfriend, who, in spite of the sex, never was.

Then, when I decided I had some actual ideas, I started writing about dogs.  Not stories, more journalistic nonfiction stuff.  I even got paid, which was encouraging.

I’m a girl and was raised to seek approval. I was never good enough. That might be generational, to raise girls to not have an ego & think they are not as worthy as boys. I’m not sure.  Encouragement is always appreciated.  I got the most encouragement grooming dogs.

I was in my 40’s and I suddenly had to start dealing with bullies.  Oh, we didn’t call them that about 20 years ago.  If it wasn’t sexual harassment, it didn’t really count (men are supposed to be assholes to girls).  But it DID count.  It’s just that we still allow men to decide what counts.

So, I was in my 50s when I started working for Bruce Blaine, at Best Friends Chicago, who was really condescending and verbally abusive.  In fact, before I started working for him, a friend who trained dogs with a dog trainer at this business told her she wouldn’t want to be caught alone in the building with Bruce.

I sucked it up, but finally complained to human resources. They sent another manager to keep an eye on him, and he’d behave for a few days, then go back to being a bully.  Nothing was ever done, so I quit working for Best Friends Pet Care.  They ultimately sold their entire business rather than deal with managers.

Because this bully Bruce would not give me a reference, I could not account for over a year of my employment.  I had trouble finding other work. In fact,  some people lured me to a new business, claiming they had enough to employ me. They didn’t.  It’s legal to lie.  I was desperate. I applied for a job I saw posted on Craigslist, offered by a guy named Dan London. His business was “Doggie Bath House’.  His only dog experience was walking dogs at a kennel, but everyone wants to be in the pet business and thinks there is nothing you have to know. There isn’t. Entry to the industry is easy.  I am not changing his name because he is still out there. I refused to work for him because he didn’t have enough dog experience and I knew he would not be in business long, He lasted about a year. but during that time, he decided that if I wasn’t going to make money for him, I’d make money for nobody. He had my resume & started harassing other businesses, & posting fake reviews on Yelp! He’d post that he toured (a business) & saw me beating a dog!  Now, how would he know my name?  But Yelp! let him do this. That’s Yelp!  You can’t trust Yelp!  He’s posted that I am mentally unstable.  Totally legal.  & he’s a guy, so he must be credible.

On the internet, ‘nobody knows you’re a dog (or an asshole…)’.  I actually met other groomers who had worked for him and whom he had not paid. They told me he hated me. He might not have had dog experience, but he had internet & bullying experience.  He posted all over the country, on Craigslist—-which you can do for free—and told people to call my employer (at the time, it was Paradise4Paws, an  up and coming dog care business) and have me fired. They got so much harassment, they did fired me.  Even though Saq Nadeem knew who was doing the harassing.

Friends told me to blog.   For over 10 years I have—–  about my ‘disparate interests’.  I am not widely read, but much of what  I’ve written has been shared.

Along the way, I stopped being sexual with a man I had been very attracted to, both physically and socially.  He had made it very clear that I was just not worth any sort of respect or commitment.

At the time, I was thinking mediocre sex was better than no sex at all.  I’ve since changed my mind.

There could be many reasons for why the sex was not better, but the bottom line is really that if the man doesn’t care, there is nothing you can do. HE IS NOT INTERESTED.

Actually, it wasn’t a conscious decision to give up sex.  It was conscious to stop seeing a mediocre sex partner who was totally unreliable.

I wasn’t meeting any worthwhile men, either. My grandmothers told me to find a man to keep me in the style to which I would like to become accustomed.  For a woman to put herself out there and risk pregnancy and disease, I just couldn’t see it.

Worse,  in my industry—-the pet industry—-the few men who are out there are gay.  What about other aspects of my life?

When I was in the Peace Corps most were younger, and the ones my age had the same issues with me:  old, fat, loud, opinionated.

Freddie Mercury, can you find me Somebody to Love?

I started looking at Match & Plenty of Fish (and even a few sites aimed at Jews). Guys my age either look like my grandfather or are looking for ‘a nurse and a purse’, or are Christian (I am a secular Jew and have a moral compass, thank you), or can’t keep me in the style to which I would like to become accustomed.

Ok, so, say we do get a guy past the hurdles: he’s got full dentition, not Christian, has a quick wit, likes dogs, can keep me in the style, blah blah.  Great. But what kind of chance do I have to take to find out if the guy is a decent lay?  Decent? I need better than decent.  You can’t write erotica without knowing what you’re talking about.

How did this actually happen?

The truth is, I wanted to write about integrity.  I am a dog fancier.  There are a lot of different breeds of dogs out there.  The reason there are so many distinct breeds is because  people want dogs to meet certain needs,  To get consistency, you need predictability, and to get predictability, you need to have the INTEGRITY to choose only the best dogs to breed.

In 10 years, there probably won’t be any Doodles, Pomskys, or Puggles, but there will be Whippets, Gordon Setters, Borzoi, Briards, and Dandie Dinmont Terriers…because of breeders with integrity.

So wait—-what? what does dog breeding have to do with erotica?

Not a thing.  But who wants to read about integrity?

Nobody. But dog lovers do want to read about good sex. So, I had my first character be a dog groomer who had good sex, and turned it into a storyline.

All the erotica/love stories are fantasies. They are contrived but made plausible.

There was another reason I did this. At the time I started thinking about how to do this, my father, in his 90’s, was badly injured in a fall.  He broke his neck and his femur. He was lucky he wasn’t paralyzed.  He did recover if you could call it that, but it was the end of his freedom because he refused to NOT walk, and continued to fall as soon as he could get up.  He had to go into a nursing home.

It was more complicated, because, my father had been bankrolling my brother’s drug addiction. He had been doing this for over  30 years.  Suddenly, the ‘bank of Dad’ was closed, and my brother was making his situation worse. He rented a car and had an accident and fled the scene. He hadn’t paid any of his utility bills and was living without running water, heat, electricity, or a phone, He lied to my sister about all this.

Rehab is a joke.  It’s a scam the way  it is marketed in this country. Families want it to work, but doesn’t unless the addict is motivated. Why should people get clean  as long as the families refuse to let them die?

That’s as far as I will go on this tangent.  It was really more interesting, but we were dealing with the stress of family dynamics. My father, in spite of his three daughters begging, nagging, cajoling him to NOT give my brother money, continued to because 1 son is worth way more than 3 daughters.

Michael Douglas also gave his son Cameron money to be a drug addict. That is what fathers do.

Face it, everyone. When someone decides to take opioids not because a physician prescribed them for physical pain, but because they are lazy, self-indulgent entitled assholes (like the flakes with untrained emotional support animals—the reason I think psychologists/psychiatrists have too much sway) nothing will fix them.  Only 30% of addicts ever totally recover  (meaning stay sober over five years), and that is because they are motivated. It usually takes them several tries, too. Most are not motivated.  They can’t live alone or be trusted with money.  I wish we could expatriate them to less developed countries where they’d have to learn a language and work or die.

I won’t go into the gruesome details of how bad it got, but my sister did get him involuntarily committed to rehab (for at least the 4th time)  This is a guy with an RPh and a DVM who chose self-indulgence.   He continues to tell us he is smarter than us all.  But…because my sister didn’t want my stepbrother or sisters judging us if they read my blog, they asked me to not write about my brother.

I had a lot of stuff on my plate.  This situation with my brother is terribly discouraging, and my father’s situation is terrible. So, that’s why I decided to write erotica.  I mean, who cares what anyone thinks?

But several people have asked me now how I came up with the sex scenes.

The short, true answer is you write what you know.  I did not have very much mind-blowing sex, but apparently what I did have made a vivid impact.  That’s what good sex is.

What I am writing about are issues that concern me, and that I confront often. That’s the other reason I decided to write.  It’s good therapy to actually express my ideas and beliefs, and as you get older, time is of the essence.  Is is true to the genre…each book has a story.  But this also looks like this is the closest I will come to the topic of sex for a very long time.


A Bully is Obsessed With Me Because I Refused to Make Him Money

August 11, 2017

I am starting this blog post with a story many of us have heard about.  Mike “Lock her up!” Flynn, ranting about Hilary Clinton,  a Trump toadie, spread the Alex Jones rumor that Cosmic Pizza in Washington, DC—a family owned business…was a headquarters for Hilary Clinton’s pedophile ring.  Laughable? A guy went  in there with a rifle and shot the place up. Almost ruined a family business.  Not illegal.  I am sure the  business owner has a lawyer, but you have to wonder how often an asshole sets out to destroy a business  just because he can.

I am finding more and more dog groomers report being bullied by men. Same story I am going to report. they post fake reviews, they call and harass businesses…or make  fake appointments.  it’s not illegal to be an asshole.

I  started blogging about 10 years ago because I had a lot to say about a variety of subjects, but mostly… to expound on my experiences with dogs.  Due to a  bad economy, as well as a bullying boss , I was adrift for a couple of years. Yet…I never went into debt.  I  paid my mortgage—was able ultimately to REFINANCE my  mortgage, and look forward to retiring in about  two years.  From grooming dogs.

The bullying boss was never fired, but when the company (12 kennels is a company) was sold, he was demoted to kennel staff & moved to another location,  However…between (among) him, some people he had contact with (a guy with a dick & balls will always have more credibility than a woman), and a guy I refused to work for….as well as  people who say they love dogs—but have never actually trained a dog,  learned anything about animal husbandry, and  other dynamics  with integrity, problems remain.

This is the blog I posted:     I interviewed  with Dan London, who told me his  dog experience came from walking dogs in a kennel.  He apparently either inherited money or got a structured settlement, and opened  a grooming shop…sort of. He paid to have bath tubs installed, had a portable grooming table, and  a ‘force’ dog dryer, but  not enough professional equipment. At the time–this was around 2008 or so, I had  several clients with long haired dogs which I groomed every week or every 2 weeks.  I knew I would have to move equipment in.  He  said he and his partner wanted to hire me…but they would set the prices. I told him that wouldn’t work.  My prices are my prices,.  He asked why, and I said, “You just don’t have enough dog experience.”

Again…what he had was bullying & internet experience.   I was looking for part time work, and  I inadvertently responded to a blind ad he ran. I learned not to do that, but he called and harassed all the groomers I worked for and posted fake Yelp! reviews.  My very favorite?  “I was being given a tour of (x shop) & I saw ROBYN MICHAELS beat a dog that urinated on her table.”

Of course, that never  happened.  I worked for  Pardise4Paws for  about two years.  Where I work in a kennel, I don’t have a phone.  That’s just how it is. You leave a message I will call you back.   Early on, Dan London  harassed them, and Saq Nadeem told me he was ignoring him.  I said, “No, please, get all the contact information you can.” But he didn’t.  Dan London would disappear, then get nuts again. He’d post all over the country on Craigslist that I had a puppy mill, that I took dogs from animal shelters to resell,  that I harassed people rehoming dogs (only the puppy mills—you can tell who they are) but worse  I abused dogs and  he told people to call Paradise4Paws and have them fire me.  I didn’t know this was going on. He could have harassed me directly, but  chose to not, and  one day, after the first of the year, Saq fired me because the manager wanted to. He didn’t know why, but she told me she was getting death threats.  Over not being able to sell your puppies? Because someone told you  I was a dog abuser?

These people are all over the country, and if they see it in the internet—it must be true.Why do they do it? Small dicks.  Because they can. They obviously get a vicarious thrill upsetting…women.  this is akin to domestic abuse..but if you can’t locate the abuser, yu can’t do anything.

At some point, this moron will slip up, and I will get a phone #, but as for now, this  is a guy, and this is what guys do.

If I won the lottery…

January 15, 2016

Dash&meNov14There was recently a lottery prize that was worth over a billion dollars (or whatever it is after taxes….a lot of zeroes).  I don’t play the lottery.  I am not a gambler. I like to think I take calculated risks.  However, what would I  do if I had the  money  Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have?

1.  Pay off my mortgage and make a few cosmetic repairs to my house. It’s over 100 years old.  It’s not really laid out well, but it is in an excellent location, being steps from public transportation and Lake Michigan;

2. Set up a fund for the youngsters in my extended family to either pay for school or a business venture.  However…not to pay for something  frivolous. They’d have to submit a plan.  You can study philosophy or art history after you can earn a living doing something (more on that later…);

3.Set up a fund to assist OPEN  ADMISSIONS ANIMAL SHELTERS so they could care for all pets, not pick and choose who gets saved. That said, this fund would also fund humane education which would teach people interested about animal behavior and husbandry, pet training and grooming, but also on  affecting social policy, so we  could address the mindset that just because you have  just one dog (or cat, or whatever) to breed, it doesn’t mean you should not be responsible for the offspring.   I’d work to  create a fund to  make it a state law that says that if you advertise baby animals for sale,  humane people visit you to collect a ‘humane fee’, and so we have your contact info  (meanwhile chipping the animals for sale…) …so if the pets you sell  are given up, you either take them back or pay a humane group to take care of your responsibility;

4. Potable water is a huge problem in much of the world.  There are many reasons for this:  population growth, deforestation…and fracking.  I’d not only fund getting the word out, but I’d sink wells or develop rain water catchment systems in areas where the population agreed to make girls education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) a priority, and fund  that.  Too many resources have gone into boys…and look what a mess men have made of everything;

5.  I’d also fund a ‘No Birth Bonus Scheme’ in  these locations—paying women to not have more than 2 children.  There is NOT enough water to go around.  I’m not talking sterilization or abortion, I’m talking women making a choice  about resources;

6.  I’d put together a venture capital firm to help inventors with prototypes and patents for appropriate technology and pharmaceuticals;

7.  I’d create a fund so my neighbors could make their housing more energy-efficient and get off the grid;

8.  I’d pay a personal trainer to boss me back into shape.  I am actually pretty strong, but you never push yourself as much as a trainer does;

9.  I’d set up a fund for people with autism to take advantage of the new technologies available which make communication easier.

10.  I’d also set up a  fund for kids aging out of the foster care system, for them to get at least associates degrees or start a business. These are the forgotten in our communities…and often, they are destined to be poor, with  compromised social skills.

I am not much for luxury items.  For me, it’s important to have a functional kitchen, and I love my deep bathtub, but jewels and fancy clothes?  Not me.  I have a travel jones.

So, that’s what I’d do with a windfall.  What would YOU do?



They Aren’t All Dog Lovers! (A Bully Reappears…)

April 3, 2015

Nella Poodle 002 (Small)Several years ago, I posted a blog called, “Are you looking for a dog grooming job in Chicago?”  It mostly gets hits from  non-grooming business owners—and groomers looking for jobs.  The gist is, that  because  in our area we are generally paid commission–meaning you only get paid when you  actually work on a dog, it is easy enough to ‘hire’ a groomer whether you have the work for them–or not.  Some shop owners don’t like this blog because  they don’t like the idea that  I am telling groomers looking for a job to be careful.  I have been told  this is the reason many wouldn’t consider hiring me. Well, I don’t want to work for anyone who is dishonest, unethical,  or who doesn’t think integrity is important. We are  working with peoples’ pets.  They are trusting us to be kind, humane, and  honest.  If they are  dishonest or unethical  with their groomers, the groomers feel the stress—and the dogs they work on feel it, too.

This business is a service business. it’s all about relationships:  the groomers’ relationships with clients as well as the clients’ dogs. I always feel sad when I leave a job because I will miss the dogs.  Sure, I will meet other dogs, but  MY DOGS—THE ONES I’VE  GROOMED WHO’VE TRUSTED ME have to get used to new groomers.  Grooming is an intimate act. Too many business owners discount the importance of this.

If you are a novice groomer, or have only worked  one or  two places in your ‘career’,  you probably will take a while to catch on.  So many  people  who want to groom dogs go to  a grooming school, then think they now know  what thy are doing. I did—and soon learned that I didn’t!  I was lucky:  my third job was with a woman who showed dogs and  took the time to learn from her fellow dog fanciers…but that’s how it was in the 1960’s & 1970’s.  Everyone who  groomed  dogs showed dogs.   They showed dogs not only  to  prove they had the ‘best’ dogs, but to be with other dog lovers.  They learned from other dog lovers. That is no longer the case.

The  industry became an industry when Poodles became popular, and more middle class people could afford the luxury of owning a nonshed dog.  That era really lasted little more than a decade.  It lasted until  the practice of real estate speculation started heating up….but I am not writing about economics so much as the dynamics of an industry where most of the skilled labor are women, and how they look at themselves… and  who  the  business owners are now.

Licensing  groomers or shops will not change who has the capital to  own the businesses, or their views on  who provides labor.  Just because a person says they love dogs—does that make it so?  How about the  person who collects a dog or  two, spoils them, never trains them, and makes excuses for them being biters or not housebroken?  For putting prong collars  or harnesses on them? Who disrespects your experience with grooming and training, because they don’t want to believe that they may not have as much personal integrity as they thought?  I have  checked out jobs with these people. I remember  one business owner who got the capital from her husband, and who learned to groom from a pet shop  chain. She had  five dogs—none obedience trained.  She also didn’t have a business plan when she bought  the business, and was out of business in less than six months. Sometimes, you can just tell …

I am going to  revisit several posts I put up several years ago about why I quit a job and how I  got bullied when I  refused to take a job offered.  The gist of why I quit a job  was that an owner, based on not enough information, put a piece of equipment in  a place where we could not use it safely, and  told me I had too much stuff plugged in.  I knew that was not true.  She was also angry that I would not  work  in her mobile grooming van because I knew I was making more money in her shop, and I was angry that she  asked me to give up  work days to the  mobile groomer  (who wasn’t making enough in the van—big surprise!)  and a groomer who had just graduated grooming school.  Down to 2 days a week—that wasn’t a job!

After I quit, she  was told by several people what a huge mistake she made. This was Jennifer Stavrianos at Pet Care Plus, in Chicago. She  apologized and asked me to return.  Because I was unhappy with the commute I was making (and because I knew the business I was working at was going to rehire  a groomer who was out on medical leave, and that groomer was dishonest and unethical…), I consented to return… with  an agreement.  What happened to the groomers  Stavrianos hired to replace me? Well, she told me she fired 1, and the other quit because she wasn’t making enough money.  I am sure I  didn’t get the total truth, and it  had more to do with   the groomers disagreeing with non-grooming management.  I  think this  is the case because although Stavrianos  agreed verbally with what I wanted… she never told her management staff (nor  put it in writing) & there was tension right from the start.

That’s not the half of it, however.  Because Stavrianos did not want to actually manage her own  boarding/grooming/daycare facility, a woman she hired as a customer service clerk was promoted to general manager and put in charge of a building build out..having no actual kennel or grooming management experience..and it all went downhill from there.  You  want to  know why Stavrianos didn’t manage her own business…as this is a business that grosses in the $500,000 range?  She didn’t like the noise or the smell of dogs,  Gave her headaches.   No joke.

She then hired another manager…a guy with food service experience, who had also managed a Big Box pet shop—but also not comfortable actually handling dogs (not even walking them on a leash), to manage staff. The woman manager  was sent to  manage a grooming shop (she was learning to groom dog  by this time). So,  I  had to train my manager how to manage me.  I know Rick thought I was cynical and  uncooperative at first, but  as time went on, he  learned that everything I told him was true:
Stavrianos didn’t want to actually  work with dogs. She continued to spend money on  the vision she had for  how her business should look, whether is was safe or alleviated the stress of the dogs…or not, and was angry when she had to spend money on making the building safe and functional.  Her husband actually told me he agreed with me, but he apparently loved her so much (and had enough of another income) that he allowed her carte blanch on a business they owned together.

Well, it is what it is…and I found other work…. a veterinary practice manager  purposely mislead me  about  how much dog grooming business  his animal hospital had (so he’d have his own options), so I spun my wheels for a while, and I worked for some friends who  had enough business to employ me part time.

I posted  an ad looking for work on a well known  site used by groomers.  I get a call  every  two weeks or so, from  people  who  say either they own a grooming business and are looking to expand, or have no business yet…. but want to see who’s out there.

Just the other day, I got an email from a  guy named “Joey Nimrod”.  That has to give you pause right there.  Evidently  my post(seeking part time work) had been forwarded to him, he said he owned an upscale pet shop in Northbrook, Illinois,  and was looking to expand…and his current groomer was making  over $100,000 a year, doing 10—12 dogs a day…lots of bath dogs.

I emailed him and told him that was  incredible!  I could not do that without a bather. That was less than 1/2 hour a dog!  & he emailed me back, “I know!  & she does $100—200 in tips!”  So….I  then asked him how many business days out she was booked that she could not take another dog,  and told him to call me…and he disappeared..until…

He posted on  the site where he saw my post, same  bs…. and  I felt there was something wrong.  I have been grooming in this area  over 40 years. We all know who is busy and who isn’t…and all the pet shops.  It’s easy enough to find them,  & no pet shop could be doing this volume of grooming without every  other groomer for 10 miles around knowing.  It would be possible for  a daycare/kennel…but not a retail pet shop.  Only possibly a big box store managed by a groomer,  who had  several people working  hourly wage support doing bathing ,brushing, the phones, could possibly do this—and that is not how they operate.  So, I contacted the owner of the website and told him he needed more info…because I bet anything, it was Dan London.

Let me tell you all about Dan London. He is a bully.  He told me his dog experience was walking dogs at a kennel.  He got some capital, either  via inheritance or a structured settlement, and decided to open a self-service dog washing business in the  south Loop of Chicago. Google “Doggie Bath House.:”  it is now closed, but the 1 star Yelp! review left up is telling. I have worked for  a couple of people who decided opening a self-service dog washing business was a good business idea—based on nothing.  One, in Hyde park, Illinois, was  folded after about a year, and one in  Wicker Park, who was able to  keep the business going until he sold the  lease to a  dog trainer who  hired dog groomers.  You have to think:  who are the types of people who would  use a self-service dog wash?  People who  work during the day and are  thrifty. So why would you keep  9—7  hours?  You would have to be open after  others work and get off, and  every weekend.  Still,  if you look at the economics of this idea, unless you  sell product—and lots of it, you won’t break even.  The only way you can possibly make money is get a groomer who  has a following, like a hair dresser.  That means the groomer has to talk directly to clients—& the owners —who don’t groom—don’t like this idea of  staff having a relationship with clients. They could run off with all the clients  if they  think the boss is an ass.  They see the boss doing  no physical labor—not even cleaning up.  A lot of owners think they are above doing the labor—and this causes their  employees to  disrespect them.

So, Dan London interviewed me,and I could see I would have to bring my own table. dryers, and crates.  I didn’t say anything, as he  hadn’t brought it up.  His plan, though, was, he told me, to  set the prices on all the dogs.  I knew that wouldn’t work.  They always set the prices unrealistically low & think they are going to raise prices 400% (they go out of business before this happens).  So, I told London I could not work for him.  He asked why, and I told him that he didn’t have enough dog experience.

As I said in the previous blog,  he decided that if I wasn’t going to make money for HIM, I was going to make money for nobody.  He had my resume—in fact, because I stupidly  sent my resume to blind ad on Craigslist, he had my updated resume, and promptly started posting  fake Yelp! reviews for these businesses. An example is, “I went to XXX for a tour and saw ROBYN MICHAELS, their dog groomer, beating a dog…”  I didn’t know this until a manager asked me, “Do you remember this guy coming in?”  I checked the Yelp! reviews for my most recent jobs (I was working as an independent contractor) and he had  done this to  several of them.  He’d also call them to make appointments, ask if I was the groomer, and tell the owner, “I saw her beating a dog…” or “She cut my dog!”  He also  cooperated with  the  brokers  and breeders posting on Craigslist, and they decided to post in cities around the country that I  beat dogs, that I was taking dogs from animal shelters & rescues to resell…

He called Pawsatively Heaven Pet Resort in Chicago Ridge (a wonderful  kennel, by the way—really nicely designed and managed by hands on dog people) and claimed that   I stabbed his cat. Well,  they knew that couldn’t be true as I didn’t groom cats, but they said they couldn’t find him in their  client base, and I told them he wasn’t a client.  He continued to harass them.

I worked for Saq Nadeem at Paradise  for Paws.  They did the grooming build out around me.  Saq called me into his office and asked me who  he was.  I told  Saq to get all his contact info, as he would not be ignored, but Saq first told me he would ignore him, and when  the  harassment continued, told me he would get  the ‘internet police’ on him. In fact, Saq had the capital to get a lawyer to find out who was  providing service to  Dan’s 20 or so  email accounts. That’s right.  He used so many aliases, but then he, again, started posting in  all these cities (on Craigslist) that I was a breeder,and to call Paradise 4 Paws and have me fired.  It took him almost 2 years, but when people actually threatened  Linda Lee (the manager)’s life, Saq  told me I was too much of a disruption.

Well , I learned.  I stared blogging, and patching jobs together.  I have been grooming for decades.  I  finally got  to Stavrianos and told her what was going on, and it didn’t matter to her.  Dan London’s trail to me  ended  at Paradise 4 Paws.  He did put  up one blog on WordPress where he claimed he made all this money, and I was a nut case and he had moved to Hawaii, and didn’t understand my crazy obsession with him.

Well, you can harass people from anywhere with the internet. NOBODY KNOWS YOU’RE A DOG ON THE INTERNET!  About a year went by, and I got a call out of the blue from…an architect.  He asked me if I knew who Dan London was.  I  told him my experience.  The architect was calling on behalf of a female friend—who was not a dog groomer. She had posted on Craigslist looking for people to hang out with as she was new to Chicago, and Dan London started bullying her. Why?  Because this is how he gets his jollies.   I may be mentally ill, I may be a nut case, but I can find more to do with my time than bully a stranger for no reason.

You can google Dan London, but nothing will come up—or rather—all the DAN LONDONs who do show up (6 of them)are not him.  He’s a shape shifter. & he’d not dead.


Book Review: The Social Lives of Dogs, by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

December 19, 2014

I try to read all the popular stuff on dogs to keep up with what  people at events are talking about.  While I  am not a fan of Cesar Milan,  you could find worse information on dog training… don’t get me started on Barbara Woodhouse..or the Koehler Method.  While these  ‘old timers’ have been discredited, unfortunately, Milan is all over  the place thanks to National Geographic, and  you can find Woodhouse’s No Bad Dogs and the Koehler  book all over  the place.

Lots of people take issue with Marshall Thomas because she is not a ‘professional’ animal behaviorist or fancier, and she allowed her dogs to breed.  Well, I bet we have issues with a lot of people we call friends.  I enjoyed The Hidden Life of Dogs, and I enjoyed this book  as wellI will add that I also enjoyed  The Harmless People, her book on the !Kung of  BotswanaHaving Asperger’s Syndrome, I am endlessly fascinated  about how communities work our social interactions.

Marshall Thomas is a phenomenal writer.  She writes clearly,  and describes what she has witnessed. She really is a pet lover, and while I would take issue in  allowing dogs to  breed indiscriminately in our modern, urban society, she explains dogs relations  to each other, and to humans, and this is what is important.

There are a lot of books written about dog training, and raising a puppy, but there is not  much written about multiple dog/pet households, and how dogs work out hierarchies and interactions.    Many of my clients started with  one pet, then  chose a companion for their first pet.  Sometimes it works out, often it doesn’t. Pets really have to choose their own friends, and pet owners can’t decide who will be dominant.

Marshall Thomas describes how  these particular animals came into her household, and what the social dynamics were among them.  Some  people might think she is anthropomorphic, but if you read and understand what she is saying,  if you are a dog owner, you will recognize what she says is true.

This is NOT a book on dog training. It is about relationships.  However, in her  Appendix, she  addresses control of dogs, and I would suggest this to anyone who  plans to work with dogs.  She is absolutely right.  She also has a separate appendix on keeping parrots.  While the books is really about dogs and their relationships to other sentient beings,  this appendix is also extremely valuable, and I am glad she  put it ion the  book.  So many people who   go for owning exotic dogs also go for  other exotics without thinking of the ramifications.

This book was published in 2000.  There is nothing out there like it.  Her anthropology training helped he  describe what she observed:  dogs being dogs.

Full Employment? Then YOU Hire Him!

February 7, 2014

It’s really a very middle class notion that  we can have full employment and that everyone who wants a job should  have a job.  In my  inner city neighborhood, we have a ‘make work’ scheme where we hire chronically unemployed men to  sweep the streets.  It would be one thing if they were supervised and  sent out to  several different areas, but you often find five or six guys, one with a broom, one pushing a garbage can on wheels, and the others a  group hanging with them.  If we got after the litter bugs, and didn’t allow stores to sell cans, bottles, and candy that can be discarded all over, we wouldn’t have the mess. No matter. The fact is that none of these guys doing this will ever be able to get real jobs.  They just don’t know how to do anything  that would add value to any business, and I bet there are some other issues.

Issues like  either not showing up on time, or on a regular basis, or showing up drunk.  I used to have a small business  where I often  employed just one person to assist me in bathing dogs, cleaning up, and lifting large dogs.    There wasn’t enough work to make it even a full day, so I paid a high hourly wage, and split tips, so whomever I hired got paid  decently for the day even though they usually only had to work  four or five hours.  Usually what would happen is I’d get a student on break for the summer, and when they’d go back to school,  business would slow down, so I could take my time in hiring.

One of my clients  was an independent human resources  consultant, ans she told me how to  screen so I could make sure  I was hiring people who could follow instructions. That helped me weed out a lot of people.  Still, a lot of time was wasted.  I’d explain, on the phone, that this job entailed washing dogs—a lot of physical labor, even getting wet.  Then they would show up dressed for work in an office.  Many would start out, and  then  realize it was too much  physical  work for them.  One guy was really good, but he  kept  not showing up, with no explanation.  After the third time, I had to fire him, and he was baffled.

I know that I am not the ideal employee, but I do understand showing up on time and being ready for work.  Usually, I am the only employee in a place that has the skills to do my job.  It’s a matter of integrity to  be  on time and ready for work, with working tools.  However, the reason I groom dogs, and have stuck with it, is because I  can work without supervision and like the creative aspect of  the  job tasks.  What makes me not so ideal is refusing to take instruction or bullying from ‘supervisors’ who don’t do my job, but want to tell me how to do my job.  People who often break their corporation’s rules, but  want me to take the blame.  People who  think they should decide what my labor is worth, and that I don’t deserve to make more money than they do because they are my bosses.

I have Asperger’s, and at least I know I am the way I am, but many Aspie’s do not.  My brother is an example.  He has an R.Ph. and a DVM.  He is very well educated.  Very intelligent when it comes to science. He has no social skills whatsoever, and, due to the way he was raised—being led to believe he is valuable because  he is a male child, he never learned anything about humility or cooperation.  He became a drug addict,  and either would not take a pharmacy  job or the word got out that he stole drugs.  He wouldn’t take a veterinary job because  they didn’t pay enough.  He decided he would make his living raising snakes,  but if you are not organized,  or your expenses are too high, you can’t make a living raising snakes.  So, he took manual  labor jobs and  started  selling precious metals on the internet to supplement his  snake ‘business’.

At one point, my father asked my brother-in-law to hire my brother.  The brother-in-law, ‘J’ was the manager of a warehouse, and he hired  packers and drivers to deliver ordered parts.  Simple enough.  Well, J hired S and told him  the workday started at  8:00a.m.  S complained that was too early for him, so J made it 8:30, and S still couldn’t manage to show up on time.  I know what that’s like.  I have had jobs where the start time was  impacted by traffic. so, I got up earlier and made a point to come in early even if I couldn’t clock in, but that’s now how my brother rolls.

No phone calls were allowed during work hours except on breaks but that didn’t sit well with S, either.  At one point, he complained that a  Hispanic worker had stolen his wallet out of his car.  Since they had a security camera system,  J reviewed the tapes with S, and indeed, tapes showed someone  going into  S’ car.  “That’s  Diego!  See, I told you!”  S  exclaimed to J.  “No, it isn’t. That’s  YOU going into YOUR OWN CAR!  Don’t you recognize your vest and shirt?”  J  yelled back at S.  What made it worse was that the tapes have a clock on them, & S was implicated  going into his car while not on a break…. but it gets better.  J reviewed all the surveillance tapes, and saw S on a pay phone—also not on  an official break, and saw him take his wallet out of his pants and put it on top of the pay phone!  He called S into his office to show him this tape, and as they were watching, Diego came into J’s office and said, “This is S’ wallet.  I found it on tip of the pay phone.”

J knew he was going to have to fire S, but bent over backwards  to make this work. S still came in over 1/2 hour late every day.  He asks to use J’s company computer, which was against the rules, but didn’t care. Finally, he was going out on a delivery, and he stopped at the end of the driveway to make a call on his cell phone.  He didn’t notice a car behind him, waiting to get out of the driveway.  The guy in the car was patient, but finally, called J from HIS cell phone  and asks J, “Isn’t that your brother-in-law in front of me?”  It was J’s boss. J had no choice but to fire S.

My father had a business, and he wouldn’t have put up with  this.

We don’t want anyone to be homeless, but  should we accommodate people who think they are entitled?  We all end up losing.  These people can’t farm, so they can’t grow their own food. We don’t want to see them sleeping on the street, so we have to take care of them. We pay no matter what.What happens in less developed countries, where the social fabric has been torn, and there  is not enough n resources to take care of these people?  In India,  you see them ‘camped out’ at the gates of the  rich.  In Africa, they get into thievery,pimping, selling drugs or alcohol, smuggling, or poaching.  Most die young, usually by violence, many by poor health.

I don’t know that there is a solution to this, but like I said:  if you think they all  deserve jobs, then YOU hire them. good luck.

Family Drama…

September 26, 2013

I am a family of four siblings.  Three girls and a boy.  I was  four-years-old, my sister was two, and the boy was born.   I remember the excitement of grandparents.   Not just a baby, but a male.  My youngest sister was born three years later. We were all planned…to the month.   My mother  loved babies.  There was no talk about zero population growth—you had as many babies as you wanted and could afford.
But a boy is ‘special’.  Family name?  Not sure, but  his bad behavior was thought cute from the start. He terrorized his sisters, and  the older relatives thought this was natural.  He had some problems in school.  Most boys–especially in America, do, but  he  developed an obsession with reptiles (also bombing, war, breaking things, but  he  really concentrated on reptiles).  He really improved his  grades and concentration on science because of this obsession.

One thing led to another, and  he  got a pharmacy degree, and was doing graduate work in toxicology, but he didn’t enjoy doing animal experiments.  He ended up going to veterinary school.  He got kicked out , but returned in a year & completed his degree.

I had told my father that my brother would make more  money as a pharmacist, but  my father believed in higher education.  My brother  got licenses for both, but never got a job as a veterinarian, and continued to work as a pharmacist, and then things got murky…and he became a drug addict.

This was no accident. While he was in pharmacy school, we discussed drugs (we were both marijuana smokers) and how addiction occurs.  He knew very well, and that once the brain is changed, there is no going back…and he chose abuse and addiction.

You think nobody chooses to be an addict?  Well, there is a personality type that does.  He has Asperger’s like I do, and between that , and  knowing how special he was, and that he could always turn to my father  to bail him out of any mess, he  chose getting high over doing  just about anything else.  I would have  thought his hobby of herpetology would have  kept him from  choosing  drugs, but it did not.  He has been imprisoned several times.

Once, when he was in jail(busted for drugs), he told us later that he had  someone who was supposed to take care of his animals, but  they did not, No matter. They were his responsibility, and a bunch of them died.  Sugar Gliders, mice, rats, and snakes.  My sister found some people to help her clear the house.  I  convinced her to convince my father to get a quit claim deed to my brother’s home to sell it. Whomever they sold it to had to knock it down, it smelled so bad.

Years went by, but the problem  still exists. He went to narcotics anonymous meetings, but when his probation was over, he stopped.  He got his pharmacy license back, but was caught stealing drugs, so lost that license.  All that education. He could volunteer in a third world country, but he has no interest in serving others.

He was busted last year for heroin possession, and a lawyer managed to get him out of Cook County Jail—with no bond and no trial.  i don’t know how he did it, but my father  paid this lawyer, and my brother was supposed to pay my father back.  What he did, instead, was invest in silver, and told my sister that my father wants him to keep the silver. this is not true.

For some reason, my father  thinks some peoples ideas are more important than others.  About 40 years ago, i borrowed money to buy my first grooming shop.  I paid my mother back, and she gifted me the money when i got married, and i used it to buy my first house.  My niece  borrowed $50,000 to ‘invest’ in a property, and told my father she’d give him a repayment contract, and never did, instead using the money to finance   many vacations.  My father let it slide do he can see the great grand kids.

MY youngest sister and I are pretty upset over this whole dynamic of my father loaning money to unethical relatives.  My brother was recently hospitalized for pneumonia, and my father got, again, pressed into taking care of all his snakes and rodents.  My father told me the place was a horror.  You can smell the ammonia (from animal excrement) on my brother’s clothes at all times. My sister was surprised that nobody at the hospital  called in a psychiatrist.

I decided to call the health department in the town where he lived.  They sent inspectors over, and, according to my delusional brother, they told him he had a well run operation there.  My sister’s response was, “Is there an outbreak of mental illness?  That the inspectors thought the smell was ok?  I  expected to see photos of them carrying out stuff on the front page of the Daily Herald!”

I did, too.  What they did, instead, was inform my brother’s homeowners association that  he was running a business in a residential area,  in violation of his agreement.  The homeowners association sent him a notice to  close his business and get rid of the animals.  In  court, they decided to  allow him to keep  four snakes, but get rid of all other animals. I am sure they gave him a time frame to do it. Since my father is angry with ME, I am not sure who paid for the lawyer.   My father whined to my sister that this was how my brother made his living, and my sister had to remind him (like the time she had to remind my father, when my brother complained about the food in prison, that you are not supposed to want to come back) that if my brother was making a living  in reptilian husbandry, he wouldn’t have to work as  a laborer for a moving company at age 56, and he wouldn’t be speculating in silver.

So, I’m the  bad guy, but my sister   has told me I probably saved his life.  My brother has no conception of boundaries.  that’s how it goes.

book review: The Journal of Best Practices, by David Finch

June 1, 2012

I guess it goes without saying that anyone who blogs is an egomaniac.  There. I’ve said it.  I automatically think that others would care about what I have to say.  It has occurred to me that  most people don’t care what I have to say, but I do have several posts up that have gotten over  1,000 hits each.Were they really read?  Not sure, but  I am sure that  people read the blogs & either sent the links to others, or  suggested the blog to others.  Of the 120 or so blog posts I have up, about 10  get  checked out every week, and  about 20 others get checked out when people research  obscure subject matter.

I start this post this way because, as I’ve said before,   I have Asperger’s Syndrome.  It’s high functioning autism.  I  am very good with concepts.  I am very articulate.  I’ve been called funny (when I am actually just telling the truth).  However, I’ve also been called strange,   unempathetic, and rude.  I will come right out and tell you what I really think.  I try to be considerate.  I try to think of others. I recognize my own  quirks and obsessions.  However, I am a girl. Female.  Culturally, we are taught/molded/shaped into thinking of others.

Men are  raised/molded/taught/shaped to be self-centered and expect women  to take care of the business of living & managing their  households for them,  As humorist Dave Barry stated in his review of this book, “Asperger’s Syndrome—a disorder that in some ways means ‘acting like a guy’….and will resonate with every guy whose wife ever asked him, “What were you THINKING?”

When I first heard of this book, I thought….could NOT be funny…but it is, actually, laugh out loud hilarious.  Finch is an excellent writer, and very perceptive.  He was just lucky his wife worked with children  who had autism, and found one of the Asperger’s tests online.Realizing the symptoms  described her husband to a T, she gave him the test, &  he passed with flying colors.  He had a name—a reason—-for being a jerk.    They were both lucky that Finch loved his wife enough to want to address his  immaturity, ego, and thoughtlessness enough to save their marriage.

We are all lucky that he chose to address the main issues that create tension in  households that regular folks without Asperger’s fight over:  household chores and being involved with child care.  And, we are lucky he  does so with humor and insight into what exactly he was spending time on instead of being involved with his family . Yep, we  Aspies are a funny bunch.

This book would be a great wedding gift  for any couple. I hope it becomes a best seller.  It will solve a lot of problems right off because it addresses the expectations and dynamics of families—indeed, any household where 2 or more  people live together.

The book was published in 2012 by Scribner/Simon & Schuster.  224 pages. I read it in 3 sittings, laughing out loud.

I got fired for wearing a scarf…(why the corporate pet stores are always looking for groomers)

January 19, 2012
Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with  genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

    I posted this in February 2012.  I have 2 updates…there is justice in the world….

When I was  barely a teenager, I decided that I wanted to learn to  groom dogs. There were so many breeds I was attracted to, I could never own that many dogs, so I decided that if  I could learn to groom dogs, I could be around a lot of different dogs that I liked.  I could be around Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees, Pulik and Airedale Terriers, Bearded Collies and Pomeranians,  Afghan Hounds and Pekingese, English Cocker Spaniels and Bedlington Terriers. Grooming dogs satisfies me in so many ways:  I enjoy  physically being with the dogs, and interacting and communicating with the dogs…..and I enjoy being creative.  I made a point to learn the breeds and the hair textures  and how to fix faults.  I am an artist.  I take pride in my grooming.  I am always checking out new products and new equipment, and network with many other dog groomers. Josh Dean, in his recent article for  Inc. Magazine:( compared dog grooming to topiary.  He totally gets it.  We are a devoted niche market for some products and we will pay for the best because it is a matter of integrity to use the best tools and the best products, and  to not just satisfy—but overjoy our dog owning clients. This is why many groomers have a following  :  we’ve cultivated a clientele  who appreciates us and know we act with honesty and integrity.
But the economy has changed, and more non groomers are now in charge of hiring and supervising groomers.  They don’t care that we are artists and creative people. They want to make sure you can follow instructions without question, no matter how absurd or petty they are—so you can fit into the retail environment. I understand this… however….
Would you agree to take a job that you didn’t know what , exactly, you were going to be paid?  What your hours were… exactly?  What if you knew you were applying for a job with certain job tasks,  but discovered there was no work, so a manager—who had never met you, never interviewed you, and knew nothing about you, had never even seen you groom a dog…. told you to clean what had already been cleaned, and that would be your job because they were paying you—even though you had been hired to perform other job tasks?  What if you  had been told you were coming in for training, but were not being  provided with training (because either there was not enough work, or there were other prospective employees being trained at the same time) , so  they had you cleaning or doing ‘busy work’ instead, rather than have you clock out? Would you keep that job if you could get   dog grooming (or other) work paying better?  If you had the opportunity to make more per hour until  this company could provide you with work for the job tasks that you had been assigned to—would you ask  for a compromise? I have to admit, this is  my fault for not being more skeptical.  I keep thinking  everyone treats everyone else with  respect. That’s not how it is. I should have asked how many groomers there were, how many days or weeks I would be required to be on site for training, and what hours I was expected to be on site.
It started with me going to a ‘job fair’.  I had read in the pet industry press that the  corporation had recently been bought by a venture capital firm and was undergoing rapid expansion.   I walked in a little early and told the receptionist that I was a dog groomer ans was immediately  taken  to the MEN HIRING .  I told them that I was a dog groomer.  I attempted to show them my portfolio, photos of me winning at dog grooming contests, articles I had written for  dog grooming publications …but on my word alone, I was hired—just like that—and given about 20 papers to sign.  I got no copies of anything I signed.  No clear answer about the schedule:  “to be determined…” One of the  papers I signed was the dress code.  It said I had to wear black or khaki pants, and either a shirt provided by the company or a black shirt. It also said:  no scarves, no jewelry, and no visible tattoos.  I didn’t remember that part. 3 days into ‘training’ they brought me  a paper to sign that said I could not work for any groomer within 10 miles of the store, forever, and another paper that said once I brought my clients over, my clients were their clients…no joke. I did attempt to read  anything that was not a tax form, but it all happened pretty fast.   I knew I had no rights, so… what else is new?  The MEN actually wanted me to start the very next day!  I told them  that since I was an independent contractor, I had to tie up some loose ends. Silly me, I  believed that I would  spend a day or so training, and then be grooming. Of course, I expected to clean up after myself…but it got a bit more complicated.
The store I had applied to work for would not be operating for another 3 weeks.  So, I was assigned to work/train at a store  that was twice as far away, that did not need me, and had no plan to train me.  I was as told, by a regional manager,  to ask for 1  of 2 managers on the day I arrived for training. Neither was there.  Really.  So an assistant told me to go to the grooming room, where a surprised groomer tried to get me some training on the computer. That she has  facial piercings and  tattoos…well, so what (this had been mentioned in the dress code…I will return to this).  She has no idea what she was supposed to teach me, but she was very nice,  so I  hung around for a while, tried to get an idea of the software & prices, and then I left, called the regional manager, he made some phone calls, and I was told to ask for another  person  the next day. This was a few weeks before Christmas, right after Thanksgiving, so things were a bit slow, and the groomers were not making commission, and were   stressed.  Yes, they get an hourly draw, but—it is not a living wage in Chicago. Seems that the corporate entity was using this store to train  groomers….but since there was no grooming, they  brought in a corporate grooming manager who did not groom, and she set us to work cleaning.   (I was told I would never see her groom, and, indeed—when another groomer called in to say she had car trouble and  she would be late, this corporate grooming manager stopped taking appointments for the day.  We trainees were puzzled at this.  How could she be a groomer? The room wasn’t a disaster—nobody moves their cages or cleans overhead equipment even more than once a month!   The issue?  Hair behind cages and  on top of equipment a small person would not see.    However, this corporate manager was not addressing the male groomers who would  be in charge of this room.  Just trainees!  How much sense does that make?  Searching for  make-work , this corporate grooming manager  told me to get a ladder out of the store room and climb it to see what was above something.  I told her that SHE COULD GET THE LADDER & CLIMB IT, but I did not yet have insurance.  This infuriated her—&  she told the store manager  to find work for me, so…he had me doing inventory. At least it was not make work.  But she  apparently wrote me up for insubordination—-even though I was still in training.  For not accepting a dangerous task that had nothing to do with grooming dogs.
This Christmas season was a total bust for me—& the groomer I was to be working with. Our new store opened a week before Christmas, but a flyer went out that said the grand opening would not be until January.   It was a fabulous location—but without a washer or dryer, and with the water temp being dangerously hot out of both the cold and hot water taps.   Since  we had just opened, we were  missing the  before Christmas influx that we would have gotten at the more established store.  They were paying an hourly wage (a manager told me it would be between $10—12 an hour—(I had to actually call the  corporate grooming supervisor, and it turned out they were under paying me by $3 an hour!  No joke!), but where we live, $15 an hour for an 8 hour day is barely a living wage. I was gambling that we would be up to  commission in 60 days.  For me, that meant averaging $20 an hour. Whatever was I thinking?  No guarantee, but it was a risk I was taking NOT just because of the location—but because the corporate groomer had told us our basic prices would be higher than they were at the other store. They were not…but…as I learned from working for PETCO—it is totally legal to lie to employees. Although business was slow, and we didn’t get the washer & dryer installed for over 2 weeks, & we almost scalded dogs, I figured that  was how it would be. Dave, my immediate supervisor, was an easy going guy, we worked well together…but another problem was….The Corporate groomers  wanted to keep the grooming room open at least 10 hours a day (store hours are 12 hours).  I didn’t want to hang around 40 hours, no matter what I was being paid, unless I was grooming dogs, because I had to pay a dog walker to walk my dogs. . In fact, I initially asked for part time, which I was told was 30 hours.  So…that meant three 10 hour days, to keep the room staffed for corporate.  Doesn’t make any sense when you have voicemail, and you can’t take a dog in for grooming 2 hours before closing (have to make time to clean up)—but that is their policy—-don’t ask why. One thing I do know:  they would not give me a regular schedule(same days  on and off every week for an entire month)—I am sure to make it nearly impossible to earn money any other way.   This is why it’s also difficult for hospitals to find nurses to work.
I had Wednesday and Friday off at the beginning of the month, then  a Tuesday and a Thursday, and, even though I was told I could not work both Saturday  and Sunday (which would have been my preferred  schedule, allowing me to work 40 hours without having to pay a dog walker), by a scheduling snafu, I had a couple of those scheduled weekends—working both days.  Having Asperger’s, the wacky schedule caused a HUGE amount of physical and emotional stress—but—believe me—they certainly don’t want  any mental  eccentrics on the team—and don’t want to hear about it! But  that was not all….seems, I could not leave at night until an assistant store manager  inspected the rooms and made sure I had cleaned properly.  The corporate groomers  had told the assistant managers no clumps of hair… but if they saw  a strand, they went berserk ans would start spraying water.  Water causes static electricity. The hair becomes stuck to the surface, but they don’t know physics… gets better.  The manager without a name tag insisted the pattern in the floor tile was hair!  Also,the way they had designed the drains , the groomers have to get on our hands and  knees, under the tubs, and take out the grate coverings, and clean the open  gutter drains.   As though we don’t spend enough time on the floor.  Why they would design this like this, I have no idea ( I have a background in basic civil engineering…you really don’t want dog hair  clogging the drains, but the drains were designed to allow hair to clog them!), but no matter.  The irony was….they had a problem with their cricket habitat—and their were crickets  all over the grooming room (I guess that was the logic of being hyper vigilant about dog hair—so the crickets didn’t establish themselves…) .
2 days after we opened, an assistant manager (with no name tag on—dress code violation) brought a customer into the grooming room who wanted to make an appointment for a cat.  As it happens, I do not groom cats without assistance, and my ‘boss’, Dave,who  had been bitten the week before, requiring a hospital visit,  was not grooming any cats until he got the cat muzzles in. Now, when  the assistant manager brought the customer in, what I was supposed to do was take the dog I had—a standard Poodle, off the table, put the dog in a crate in another room, and THEN WALK UP TO THE CUSTOMER.  What I did was say, ” I am sorry, I can’t  leave this dog.  Dave said we aren’t grooming cats until we get the cat muzzles in…”
The assistant manager scowled at me, and said to the customer, “Wait, I’ll ask Dave..” and she went into the back, where he was washing a dog  he could not leave unattended….and came back and told the customer exactly what I had told them. The customer left, and the assistant manager came back and told me, “You were very rude.”
“How was I rude? ” I asked her.  “You just were!”  She yelled.  That helps a lot. A few days later, I  saw she had a price chart.  I said to her, “I know what the prices state, but these are guidelines, our starting prices, and  I don’t groom cats.” “You have to groom cats if you are the only groomer  on duty!” she told me, and, right back at her, I said, “Uh, no, I  have been told I do NOT have to groom cats. Check with (the corporate manager). ”   She didn’t like that. So the problem surfaced that I was not a giddy girl. That I spoke with as much authority as any manager—and that is not allowed.  No paper says that is not allowed, but that is the gist…because… I worked one of the grand opening days, and I thought the corporate groomers would be  happy with my grooming..but  no, they were threatened by it.  In fact,  the  corporate groomer (who nobody had ever seen groom) who had been  giving me the most aggravation  regroomed one of my dogs without setting up the coat (meaning—she did not comb the hair out  to see what length it was, or where it was uneven,  she just started chopping with a thinning shears).  I did not work the 2nd day of the grand opening, and they did not thoroughly clean up, but I would not find this out until… Monday.
I had 1 of my clients come in for grooming.  I put on a scarf, as I knew there would be hair flying around. I didn’t even think about the dress code, because I was wearing a black shirt, and khaki pants.  I was sending the client home, and, apparently,  the corporate groomers took a photo of me with the client and sent it to human resources.  She didn’t address me then, but  came into the room about an hour later , yelling at me to take off my scarf, that I was in violation of the dress code!  I started to laugh and under my breath to say, “For shit’s sake!”  stifling it, when she accused me of using profanity, and called her boss on her cell phone to tattle, and I got a reaming out for wearing a scarf and using profanity.  I could only wear the scarf it in the tub area! It was an honest mistake.  I really had a busy day. I had a Belgian Sheepdog that hadn’t been brushed in about a year.  Not really matted—just extremely hairy.  Now, most groomers would price a Belgian Sheepdog as they would a Rough Collie—but for this corporation, they have priced  the Belgians $15 cheaper to start.  I wanted to charge $15 additional labor (we were offering 50% off the entire cost of grooming for another few weeks—for the grand opening), but the corporate groomer, who did not touch the dog, told me that was too much.  $5 more was ok (for the over an hour I put in)…. and, then, clean up.  I thought I did a fantastic job—but, alas…the day before (when I was off), the corporate groomers and their team ‘cleaned up’ and left—and did not pull out all the crate trays.  Stupid of me—I had only used 3  crates, so I didn’t think to pull out all the trays—-after all, the corporate groomers’ team has cleaned up.  She would have made sure  that they had done the trays—right? Wrong!  I had not  checked, so it was my  bad cleaning. So now, I was totally demoralized and pissed off. I emailed human resources, they emailed me a copy of the photo the corporate groomer had taken of me—wearing the scarf–and emailed me a copy of the dress code I has signed. Sure enough—no scarves…but also…. NO JEWELRY, NO VISIBLE TATOOS. But,  the groomer who trained me has facial studs—eyebrow ring, nose ring, tongue stud, and the 2 other groomers had tattoos! Human resources said they’d get back to me after they talked to the head corporate groomer.  But they did not, The head corporate groome told me it was not working out. Fired. One of the papers I signed was a notice that they could fire me AT WILL with no explanation.  But here is the explanation—I mean—do  I really think they fired me for …wearing a scarf?  No. I  KNEW they fired me because  they expect  employees to do what ever they are told and not to talk back.  Be submissive to  managers, no matter how petty they are.
Trouble is—when you groom dogs, you have to manage your own time, make  critical  decisions, and work in such a way as to avoid injury as well.  Several friends had told me I would have been eligible for workmen’s compensation had I been injured falling off the ladder, or  bit by a cat.  Right—but it would be MY OUT OF POCKET—and they would not reimburse me for lost wages.  But that’s ok.  I will not have people who do not do my job telling me how to do my job. I feel like I’ve been disrespected and taken advantage of, and had my time wasted.
Experienced groomers…people who’ve been able to make a living at what they are doing by providing  skilled artistic services to their clients, have a level of SKILL and most likely common sense and maturity not only to manage their own time, but to clean up, and keep our skills up. We go to dog training classes and performance events, and get a lot of  what is now common industry knowledge/indigenous knowledge:  listening to  experienced dog owners and fanciers explain what they have learned.  This is  how the  market niche for the grain free and other specialty pet foods developed—not by veterinarians recommending the foods, or pet store managers pushing the foods—but by hobby breeders, dog trainers, and groomers suggesting to their pet owning clients that they  do further research and question their veterinarians and  make requests of pet store owners. This is a fact. We are the ones that  pet owners ask for recommendations for  grooming, health related, and training products for their pets.  It’s an ironic shame that we have to  be subjected to  demeaning, immature managers.
So beware. These corporate pet stores have great prices on product, but because of how they manage employees, in spite of the benefits, good groomers are always quitting.  This is why they are always looking for groomers.
Update, May 2012. I went to  see Dave, my co-worker.  He told me a few weeks after the managers got me fired, both the in-store managers were fired for —what? being  Nazi’s? Jerks?    Then, they demoted the corporate grooming managers a few months later!  I rest my case….

I have a greeting disorder….

September 29, 2011

I come from a family of visual artists.  My grandfather was an artist, his 2 sons (my mother’s brothers) were & are artists, and 3 of 4 siblings (my  youngest sister, and my brother)  worked in the visual arts.  Like some families are into music, or athletics, we drew, painted, did assemblages.  I am not sure this matters, but it is said that we autistic types…think in pictures.

See, we are not just artists. It seems that a few of us are strange.  Some of us suffer from chronic depression.    Dysthimia…ennui…At least that’s what an internist/friend called it.  He said to me, “It’s not you. It’s the rest of the world. you’re not crazy” .  But Asperger’s Syndrome was not  recognized until about 1994…

It upset my father that we were strange, but  that’s how it was.  I had a cousin who had an autistic child,  and the family  became estranged from her because  …I am not really sure.  I think my mother felt her own  genes were superior, even  though the cousin with the autistic kid was a relation of my father’s.

I  was teased in junior high for  how I looked and acted,  even bullied.    I was told by guidance counselors that I was  more intelligent than average, and lazy.  I was really just bored with school and annoyed by my petty classmates, but  so much for hindsight.  I was obsessed with dogs.  I learned everything I could about dogs.

A lot of my personality was  attributed to being very intelligent, and being  an artist.  It was really more, but I was not to learn that it was Asperger’s until I was in my 50’s.

I think my parents fretted that I was such an idealist, but they were also concerned that my depression would lead to psychosis or suicide,  and concerned that I was poisoning the minds of  my younger siblings. I went through several psychiatrists and a psychologist, and they all took my parents money and  were just the foxes watching the henhouse.  They were of virtually no help, and I became very skeptical of talk therapy.  The whole therapy industry is  make-work for  a bunch of people who’ve conned politicians into  giving them legitimacy. Look how many have allowed  child molesters out of prison.

Several years ago, I was talking to a client (a psychologist, as it were)  on the phone.  It was at a place I was working, so others were listening to my end of the conversation.  At the end of the conversation, I hung up.  I might have said, “Ok,” but I don’t remember.  One of my co-workers  said to me, “Robyn, you are so rude!  You didn’t even say ‘Good bye!”  I just shrugged, as I knew the person I was talking to knew it was the end of the conversation. I did not hang up on her.  That’s how many of us Aspies are. We call people or  met them & dispense with greetings….as though we are just continuing a conversation.  I have to remember to greet people, and I have to remember to look them in the eye.   I generally CAN ACT NORMAL. except if I am under stress.

I generally don’t just get together with friends to hang out.  I just  get together to share an activity…and even that can be stressful.

1. It gets too complicated when people change plans  at the last minute.  We Aspie’s love routine.

2.  They complain about my car and/or my driving, but they don’t have cars.

3.  They  like to go out & spend money for the sake of spending money.  I have always been marginally employed and am always thinking about the slow times;

4. They are into fashion.  I am into functional clothing.

I guess all of the above are why I was not able to get a professional job after I got my Master’s degree.  I don’t suffer fools gladly.  It makes me crazy that people are so dishonest and will lie about  everything.

After reading John Elder Robison’s book, “Look me in the Eye.” about how he  coped with being strange. I  felt I had to address this in myself.  I can understand why people would not want to work with people like me.  That said…

I have a friend who is a dog groomer and dog trainer. She bought a business 20 years ago. It was a good business. but, due to her skills, she made it a better business.  It is very successful now.  She is successful at everything—dog grooming, training, breeding good dogs.  I respect her  a lot.  Thing is, she  has an attitude.    We get along, to talk, but I can’t work for her.  I respect her. but  the problem is that she  really thinks  everyone should like her, that her way is  the only way, that she is never inarticulate, and doesn’t believe  that anyone would not bring their dog to her.  I have gotten several of her clients because they don’t like  dealing with her and her business for  many of the same reasons I don’t:  she talks down to you.  She has trouble  accommodating clients.  Her shop is noisy & often a mess.  She has  all her dogs around, and some dogs find them intimidating.  There is nothing wrong with my friend. SHE IS NORMAL.  I’m the one with a problem.

Lately, I’ve seen several TV programs  addressing the issue of Aspergers in their scripts.  I learned about the autism spectrum from reading Tempel Grandin’s book, Thinking in Pictures.  Were it not for her, we’d all be a bunch of wierdos walking around.  That’s just how it is.