DEAR ABBY: My hairdresser, "Natasha," owns the shop where I have had my hair done for more than 15 years. I love the way she does my hair.
Natasha obliges me when I can't come for my regular appointment, and I am always generous with my tip. The problem is, she can't handle money. Because I'm a longtime customer, Natasha feels she can tell me her money troubles. Every time I'm there, it's a steady stream of woe. Over the years I have seen her jump into one harebrained scheme after another, losing thousands along with way. She's always in trouble with the bank, creditors, etc.
Natasha's latest problem is that her credit cards are all maxed out, and she can't afford her home or meet her payroll. I have gently tried explaining that her employees must be paid regardless, because they, too, have obligations. I have also urged her to meet with her bank manager, get counseling help, and contact the credit card companies to arrange payments. So far, she has not taken my advice, and her sad tales continue to unfold.
Abby, I go to get my hair done and relax -- not to hear her misery. I am now thinking about taking my business elsewhere. My husband agrees, and so does my daughter (a psychologist). But our son, a businessman, disagrees. He says if Natasha gives good service, why not be like a bartender and listen to her troubles?
My husband thinks Natasha is getting ready to ask me to bail her out. I don't want to be put in that position. She's the type who, if her money problems were wiped out today, would be back tomorrow. That's what has happened all along. She's a fine hairdresser; she just has poor business judgment. What's the best way to get out of this sticky situation? -- DROWNING IN HER SORROWS
DEAR DROWNING: If Natasha is in the kind of hot water you have described, your problem may resolve itself. An employer who fails to pay her employees their wages (or the government its withholding taxes) usually does not stay in business. In fact, she could wind up doing hair in Cell Block Nine.
With that in mind, you have two choices: The first is to tell Natasha in plain English that you come to her not only for her talents, but also to relax. Therefore, she should no longer stress you out by giving you an ongoing commentary about the state of her finances. The second is to find another hairdresser -- which, if Natasha is as poor a businesswoman as you have described, you may have to eventually do anyway.