I lost my temper today. Not at Mom, but at her hairdresser, the one who has been cutting her hair for about 20 years.
When I called last week to make an appointment, Hairdresser X—we’ll call him Ralph—was hesitant to make an appointment for us. He’s seen Mom become more frail and unpredictable due to Alzheimer’s, so I could understand his hesitation. I assured Ralph I’d be there, too, reminding him that Mom dotes on him and enjoys being in his salon.
We showed up early for the appointment, the August heat and humidity having left its toll on us as we wandered in the city. Ralph turned as we entered, then returned to the client in his chair. I stammered that we were early, but we’d wait our turn.
The small salon was crowded. As I went to move some chairs for Mom to sit down, I heard Ralph speak.
“I can’t,” he said, his back to us.
“What?” I asked.
“What do you mean you can’t? We have an appointment.”
“But I spoke to you last week. We made an appointment with you.”
Not once did Ralph come over to greet us or try to speak to us in private. Neither did he turn around and face us.
Oh, I boiled up and over. Unfortunately, my anger made me tongue-tied. I yelled out some indistinct adjectives and stormed off in a huff, Mom and our caregiver Sahlee following behind. Except I couldn’t really storm off, not like I wanted to. Mom’s gait is so slow I had to significantly reduce my walking speed to match hers.
Even as I fumed, Sahlee pointed out several other salons in the street where we were walking. “He’s not the only hairdresser,” she said.
Hey, I thought, you’re right!
We stopped at one of the salons and I entered cautiously. I engaged the hairdresser in a short discussion, explaining that Mom has Alzheimer’s but that it shouldn’t hinder him while cutting her hair. Yossi was nonplussed. He said hello to Mom, invited his assistant to wash her hair, then expertly began cutting and shaping Mom’s silver locks.
Let me describe our new hero: shoulder-length black hair with streaks of bordeaux, nut-brown skin, deep eye crinkles, a trim mustache, tight black pants and t-shirt, and these tri-colored shoes in dayglow yellow, pink, and green. Did I mention handsome? Mom was in heaven. She praised the hands of the assistant who had washed her hair, then chatted amiably with Yossi about London, one of Yossi’s favorite cities and Mom’s birth place.
When we left, we were all in good moods. Mom certainly had no recollection of what had transpired, but I purposely led us home in a circuitous route so that we would not have to pass Ralph’s salon.
Now that I have regained not only my faith in humanity, but my ability to express myself, here’s what I want to say to Ralph.
“Ralph, you lost our business today. Instead of treating Mom with kindness, you ostracized her because you view her as sick. You had the audacity to embarrass us in a roomful of strangers by literally turning your back on us. You chose not to connect with us on a personal level. Your lack of empathy dehumanized Mom. Had you made the effort to find the best and safest way to cut Mom’s hair, you would have been rewarded with the emotional warmth she bestows on those around her. If this is the way you treat valued customers, we are happy to move on.”
There. Enough said.
When you’re feeling low, it is best to buck up your emotions with something sweet. Now that mangoes are in season, here’s a recipe for mango lassies, a popular traditional yogurt-based drink in India.
Summer fruits are definitely my favorites. Mangoes, grapes, peaches, plums, melons. While it may be hard choosing which to eat, no other fruit, in my opinion, blends as well with yogurt as mango.
1½ mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 container plain yogurt (i.e., 200 grams or about 7 oz.)
1 tsp vanilla
6 cubes of ice
Place ice cubes in blender. Pulse until crushed. Combine mango, yogurt and vanilla in blender with ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with cinnamon.