cats are not dogs, and how tangling string untangles frustration

As Airbnb hosts, we have lots of lovely interactions with guests while they're here, and with potential guests making inquiries before they book. I try to be really clear in our listing, about the house, amenities, and rules. The trouble is, some people would rather not actually read the listing, or if they do, they just ignore the parts they don't like. Oy. I mean really, who thinks cats and dogs are the same thing?

Today I got a booking for two nights in March, from a very nice-sounding couple coming down from Canada. They were very excited to stay here at Mermaid's Nest, and everything was great... until I got to the part in their message about bringing their cat...

Ruh roh...

I had stated very clearly in our listing that we allow small dogs. Cats were not mentioned. Neither were goats, snakes, skunks, or rhinos, because I figured people would see that part about dogs, and at least ask before assuming all other animals were welcome. Oh, silly me. Apparently these nice people thought their cat was the same as a dog, and the accompanying litter box, claws, and potential for cranky-cat-marking would be just dandy here.

I explained as politely as I could (which was indeed very politely), that we allow dogs only, not cats, and they would need to cancel their reservation, unless other arrangements could be made for the cat. I have my reasons. I do not hate cats. I like cats. I even love a few of them. But after the Crazy Cat Lady Incident we went through some years ago in Taos (imagine 30 cats and dogs living in your house)... sigh... let's just say I have trust issues around cats in my pretty little home. I get to be that way. It's my house.

The nice Canadian people did cancel their reservation, but couldn't resist tossing back a snarky message, blaming me for ruining their plans. Fine. My fault. And thanks for the reminder that not everything that is obvious to me is obvious to the rest of the world. I edited the listing to be extra super clear about our pet policy. Small dogs, yes. Cats, and all other animals, including rhinos, although I love rhinos deeply, no.

Dirty work done, I was left feeling staticky and frazzled. I didn't want to feel that way just because I didn't say yes to something that's a very clear no for me. Having total strangers mad at me from a great distance, feels just about as bad as someone close by being mad at me. Yucky.

So I shut my computer, grabbed some crochet thread and a tiny hook, and headed to the beach. Beach always helps. I walked along the sand about a mile to town, and found some sweet, unusual shells along the way. Little sea gifts made me feel better. When I stopped for coffee, and was gifted a donut, I thought, OK, maybe I'm not a bad human after all. Then, sitting on a bench on the Prom, I gave the small crocheted rock I'd intended to leave on the beach to a guy who was not only interested in such things, but also gave me some good tips on Hawaii (I'll be going in September). My day was turning around.

Walking home, I sat on a log and finished the crocheted rock I'd started on the bench. Working the string, essentially turning it into an intentional tangle, I felt the last bits of my earlier disquiet fall away. It became clear to me that I wasn't wrong. I was as clear as I could be, I was polite, and apologetic for the confusion, and I didn't lash back when accused of bumbling incompetence. I just let... it... go...

I put what was left of the silly little drama into the thread in my fingers, made it into something beautiful, and left it there on the log. Walking home, a neighbor handed me a bunch of beets from his garden. A sure sign that everything is right with the world.


  1. Beautiful and proof that sending out creativity into the world can be healing!
    love, jean xox


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