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The Mysterious Case Of The Night Howlers

, , , , , , , | Working | September 4, 2020

The office I work at has normal daytime hours, then at a certain time switches over to emergencies only for the night, then we close for an hour before the day shift comes in. Night shift doesn’t see day shift except in the evenings. Overnight, we run with a skeleton crew: one tech, one front desk, and one doctor. I work night shift.

One night, I’m helping a patient in from the parking lot when we hear an ungodly scream. It sounds like the loudest, angriest cat scream I have ever heard. I turn around, and sitting in the middle of the parking lot is a tiny kitten, eight weeks old at the most. While I watch, it screams again.

I keep pushing the hurt dog on his stretcher to get him in the door, and then I let the front desk know there is a kitten outside, so let’s leave the door open and see if it comes inside. We can’t go out and get it because if you try and chase them they might run into the road or get scared and run off to who knows where.

A few hours later, we hear screaming from the side of the building. The kitten is sitting in the window staring into the treatment room. We open the window and it bolts.

Around midnight, I’m taking the trash out the back door and there is the kitten, sitting just out of reach and screaming. I set a feral cat trap in the back lot and put a note on the treatment board to check the trap for success every hour.

There’s no sign of it after midnight, and the next evening, when I come in for the day shift, I ask and they tell me they think the kitten ran off, because none of them saw any sign of it. As soon as the day shift leaves, we hear the screaming again.

This goes on for almost a week. Everyone on night shift low key hates this little jerk of a cat and the day shift thinks we are all crazy because they haven’t seen any trace of it. Finally, our medical director gives us permission to actively try and catch it since the screaming is bothering clients; if it runs away and never comes back, so be it.

The next night, our tech brings a bucket outside with her when she takes out the trash and throws it over the kitten. We finally got the jerk! We throw him, still screaming, into a kennel and label the cage “Howler Kitten.” We’ll do an exam and vaccines and everything we need to do to get Howler adopted later. Due to emergencies, we don’t get a chance to do anything to him that night.

The next evening, I come in and the first thing I do is go check on the prisoner. Somebody has drawn a line through “Howler” and written in “Sweetie”. I talk to the day shift and they explain that he hasn’t screamed all day, he’s the sweetest little thing, and they don’t understand why we were so annoyed with his meows; they are so soft and cute. He never screams again the whole time he is with us up until we find him his forever home. Night shift still low-key hates this cat for making us look like liars.

Six months later, it’s a slow night and I’m raking the parking lot and I hear the same scream. My first thought is, “Dang it, he ran away from his new home and came back to torture us again.” I turn, and deja vu, there’s a kitten the same color that looks eight weeks old. My next thought is, “We are not doing this again!”

I drop the rake and charge towards the kitten. I chase it down the street until it darts under a parked car and screams again. I reach into the wheel well and grab it by the scruff, and then I take my hissing, screaming captive back to the office. We put her in the kennel, and this time we take a video of her screaming at the food we gave her… while she is eating it. I did not know it was possible to scream and swallow at the same time, but she does it.  

Night shift names the new kitten Alouatta, the genus that howler monkeys belong to; we looked it up. The next evening, her name has been changed to Pickles, but they change it back after I show them the video. 

We are convinced they are half-siblings at least, and that somewhere out there is a feral cat telling her kittens that the easy way to get food is to “go to the humans and scream” while neglecting to mention that after screaming you have to get close to the humans. Neither of them ever made that scream sound again. We are still waiting to see if another sibling shows up; it’s been a year now so maybe there won’t be any more.

When There’s No One You Can Call

, , , , , | Right | July 30, 2020

I am sitting outside my vet’s office waiting for my cat to come back. To cut down on contact due to social distancing, the vet has decided that we should call to say we’re here and they send someone out to collect your animal. This is outlined when they call to verify your appointment the day before, when the email is sent out two days before, and when you make the appointment.

A man parks his truck at the far side of the parking lot, three rows from the door, and gets out of his car. I guess what he is about to do, but before I can say anything, a woman in another car speaks up.

Woman: “You gotta call; they won’t let you in.”

Man: *Scowling* “F*** you! I have an appointment.”

Woman: “So do we! You gotta call!”

The man gives her the finger and walks his dog to the door. He pulls the handle but it doesn’t budge. He looks right at the sign that says, “STOP. STAFF ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT. PLEASE CALL [PHONE NUMBER],” and knocks again. The man tries to look in the door, pulls again, and starts pounding on the glass. A tech comes to the door and unlocks it. The man tries to open the door but she pulls it shut and locks it again.

Man: “Let me in!”

Tech: “I’m sorry, sir. You’ll have to go back to your car. We aren’t allowing people in the building.”

Man: “Bulls***! Open up!”

He hits the glass right by her face.

Tech: “You can go back to your car or we can call the police.”

Man: “F*** you!”

He pulls the door again.

Tech: “Goodbye, sir.”

I heard the other woman laughing in her car as the man stalked back to his truck. He got back in and peeled out of the parking lot in record time.

What Kind Of Pickup Were They Expecting?

, , , | Right | July 26, 2020

I’m telling tales on myself this time. My best friend and I have been helping my mother with some projects and we decide to order a pizza to share. I have the local eatery on my phone as [Community] Pizza, so I open my contacts. My mother is telling me what to order as I touch the number to start dialing, which causes me to not hear the first few words as the call is answered.

Woman: “…my name is [Woman]; how can I help you?”

I am puzzled, because they don’t usually identify themselves when you call for a pizza, but I think maybe it’s a new policy.

Me: “Hi, I’d like to place an order for pickup, please.”

The woman sounds a little confused.

Woman: “Sure, how can I help?”

Me: “I need a large pizza with hamburger.”

Woman: “You… Oh! Oh, I think you want [Community] Pub.”

Me: “Oh, no… Who did I call?”

Woman: “[Community] Animal Hospital.”

It’s been a very long day and I’m a little frayed, so this is kind of the ridiculous icing on the stressful cake. I just barely manage to hold in my laughter as I apologize.

Me: “I am so sorry to bother you.”

Woman: “That’s okay; do you need the number?”

Me: “No, no, thank you, though. I have you both in my contacts and I must have touched the wrong name without realizing it. I’m really sorry.”

Woman: “That’s okay. I hope you enjoy your pizza!”

I was almost in pain at this point from not letting myself laugh. I hung up and told the others what had happened, and we all laughed hysterically for a few minutes. I then ordered the pizza from the correct place.

It’ll be a while before my mother lets me live this down.

A Double Coat Of Entitlement

, , , , , | Right | June 18, 2020

I work at a small animal hospital that offers limited boarding and grooming services. Our main focus is on healthcare. Because we are a small practice with many of our employees working in dual departments for coverage, we have rules for when we can provide certain services.

For example, if you want “grooming,” we require animals to make appointments a couple of days ahead and they have to be dropped off in the morning. This way we can make sure we have someone who can give the dog a bath with enough time to dry and be brushed out. We make exceptions for small, short-haired dogs like Chihuahuas.

It is 2:30 pm.

Client: “I would like to bring my pet in for a bath.”

Me: “Okay, let me pull up your account. What is your last name and your pets’ name, and when would you like to bring your pet in?”

Client: “I am [Client] and I would like to bring her in this afternoon if that’s okay.”

On the account I see that the pet is a long-haired, hundred-pound shepherd mix who is also aggressive.

Me: “Unfortunately, ma’am, we do not do grooming services in the afternoon since we don’t have the time nor the staff available.”

Client: “Really? But I really need to get her in. We are getting new carpet put in today so I need her to be clean.”

Me: “I am sorry, ma’am, but we can’t do a bath on a double-coated dog this late in the day.”

Client: “Can’t you just ask [Doctor]? She knows me.”

I go to the doctor who is also the owner of the practice and fill her in. Originally, she says no but when I inform the client, she presses again. I go back to the doctor and she agrees but with conditions.

Me: “Okay, [Doctor] says it is okay if you bring [Pet] in now. You can expect her to be done right before we close at 5:30. We cannot promise that we will be able to brush her out completely but we will do the best we can. Please try to be in the clinic no later than 5:15 to pick her up.”

The client shows up thirty minutes later and the technician who really should be helping the doctors gets started on giving the pet a bath. At 4:15 pm:

Client: “Hi. I just want to know if my pet is ready for pick up.”

Me: “No, she is still pretty wet. It takes a long time for double-coated dogs to dry.”

Client: “Can you give me a time when she will be ready?”

Me: “She probably won’t be ready until right before we close at 5:30.”

Client: “She won’t be ready sooner? I need to plan out the rest of the night; I don’t want to have to wait around for her to be ready.”

Me: “Ma’am, we are doing the best we can to get her back to you. Like I said, double-coated dogs take a long time to dry. Then, we have to brush her really good because if we don’t you will have little puffs of white hair everywhere. The bath and the dryer loosen up the undercoat. You don’t want to have dog hair all over your new carpet, do you?”

Client: “We aren’t getting carpet put in today; we are just getting our house measured for new carpet.”

Me: *Frustrated pause* “You can pick your pet up at 5:15.”

Some Managers Need More Training On Being Human

, , , , | Working | June 9, 2020

After graduating from college in the vet field, I am hired at a twenty-four-hour vet clinic as a receptionist in the next city over. Because I rely on public transportation, the travel is a nightmare, to say the least; I have to leave three hours before my shifts to make all my connections and as it’s almost winter at this time, the weather is miserable. I suck it up, as it’s a full-time position with a good wage and benefits.

I tell the managers who interview me that this will be my first clinic job and as such, I will need to be trained properly to make up for my lack of experience. They tell me this won’t be an issue and say, “You’re exactly what we’re looking for.”

Little did I know how wrong that was.

On my first day:

Manager #1: “We’re going to start your training today. You have to go to [Website] and watch the videos that [Manager #2] sent you in an email. Here is all your login information. You also have to read our policies and procedures and sign off when you’re done.”

She leaves and I start reading. A little while later, [Manager #2] comes in and sits at the opposite desk. She’s looking over my shoulder a bit but I don’t say anything and just continue what I’m doing. It gets a bit awkward, as I don’t have headphones to watch the videos and she keeps commenting on things as I’m going through them. In the end, I do six hours of this and only finish half of the first module of training.

Me: “Do you want me to do more at home? I only got this much done.”

Manager #2: *Waves me off* “Don’t worry about that; you’ll be able to finish the rest of it this week. See you tomorrow!”

I come in the next day to find out I’m not doing more training, but being placed on the front desk with [Manager #1]. I’m a little nervous, as I haven’t even touched the vet software before, but I decide I’ll do my best. Throughout the day, it’s clear that [Manager #1] wants me to get as familiar as possible to the front desk so I can work by myself or with another receptionist. I’m asked to answer phones, make appointments, and answer client questions: all things I haven’t been trained on yet.

Basically, the day goes like this:

Manager #1: “Okay, this client wants to buy [Brand] food. Let’s ring them up.”

I search the food catalogue to find that there are twenty [Brand] items to pick from.

Me: “Okay, so that’s one [Brand] item, at [weight], correct?”

Manager #1: “No, it’s under [Another Name that isn’t the brand], see? You have to search by the other name to find it.”

Me: “Can I ask why is it under a completely different name?”

Manager #1: “That’s just how the system is; you have to search our products by term, not by name. So, if you need renal food, search ‘renal,’ or ‘kidney,’ and scroll until you find it.”

Me: “I understand, but that seems confusing to me. If I just search that, I’ll get results for other products that aren’t food, which makes me look through more things.”

Manager #1: “Don’t worry; you’ll get used to it. Just remember to use terms, not names.”

I struggle with the system and I also have some issues with the other staff. Our veterinarians, vet techs, and vet assistants all stay in the back room to do their tasks; however, they seem very annoyed that I am asking questions. Every time I ask for clarification, they look at me like I have three heads and then very condescendingly give me an answer, like I’m a child. Or they just don’t help me at all and say, “Figure it out.”

I’m a rather shy person and I don’t like to just start talking to people without saying, “Excuse me,” and the like, which apparently makes it worse, resulting in me awkwardly waiting until people are finished their conversations. Example:

I’m patiently waiting until the technician is done speaking to another coworker.

The tech stops talking and notices me, then says abruptly:

Tech: “What is it?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to butt in. I was wondering if I could ask you a question if you have a moment?”

Tech: *Sighs* “What do you need?”

I’m starting to feel embarrassed.

Me: “I’m on the phone with a client who wants to bring her dog in for a booster vaccine, and your schedule is getting pretty full. The next opening I have is right before you do rounds for the hospitalized patients, so I wanted to ask if I could—”

Tech: *Interrupting* “Yeah, put her in. You don’t have to ask me that.”

Me: *Taken aback* “Okay, I just wanted to clarify before scheduling her in—”

The tech goes back to talking to someone else.

Every. Time.

I do this a few more times with the same results, and then decide to not ask before changing it to see if they say anything. True enough, the next time I schedule a tech appointment, I get chastised for not confirming with them. Seeing as I can’t win either way, I continue to ask them whenever I make a schedule change.

This goes on for about a month and my motivation is quickly depleting. I never do get back to training. I get talked down to and yelled at for incredibly small things, such as not putting whiteboard markers back in the exact same place when someone needs them even if there are multiple available.

On top of this, my shifts are also changing from morning to night, which I initially didn’t have an issue with, but now I’ve been exclusively working 4:00 pm to 12:00 am and it’s wearing down on me. It’s made travel a lot harder; I live with my parents, so thankfully, my dad agrees to drive me home at twelve since no buses run that late, but he’s getting fed up with it. It’s worthy to note that I do have problems with anxiety and this job is making it skyrocket. When I’m approaching thirty days of employment, my managers ask to meet with me for an evaluation.

Manager #1: “This is your thirty-day evaluation. We’re just going to talk about your performance and ask a couple of questions, okay?”

Manager #2: “Can you tell us your thoughts on how you think you’re doing?”

Me: “Well… to be honest, I am struggling with a few things. I’m getting used to the system and routine of things, but I find the technicians and vets are not very nice to me. I admit that sounds childish, but it feels like I’m bothering them when asking questions. The only reason I talk to them so much is to make sure I’m doing things correctly and so I won’t have to ask next time. I know I’m supposed to help them as much as possible to make things easier for them, but I need to ask questions in order to do so. I am talked down to and chastised constantly and I can’t seem to do anything right for them.”

Manager #1: “Well, you know, when there’s a lot of women working in one place—”

We’re all female excluding one male vet.

Manager #1: “—we can get kind of catty. They may seem like that, but they’re really nice and caring people when you get to know them.”

I’m a little shocked by this, as I don’t think it’s right to say that in order to excuse their behaviour, but I don’t press it.

Manager #2: “We’ve noticed you are having a hard time with some of the day-to-day duties. The other receptionists say you don’t pull your weight.”

Me: *Shocked* “I— What? I don’t understand. I don’t have any issues with that! I take out the garbage, mop and sweep, clean the exam rooms—”

Manager #2: “Well, the girls feel that you don’t help out as much as they would like. They shouldn’t have to tell you to do these things.”

Me: “I’m not sure I follow. I offer to do tasks when it’s slow and I check in with them to see if there are other things that need to be done, if that’s what you mean? I just wanted to be sure we’re all on the same page with what we’re doing.”

Manager #2: “We’re also thinking about the next couple of months ahead. You take the bus here, so what will happen during winter when the weather is bad? We need to know you’ll have a way to get here. We are remodeling for the next year and it’s going to get even busier and we’re concerned you won’t be able to keep up.”

Me: “I’m concerned, as well, since I haven’t finished my training yet. I’ve asked both of you when I can resume that but it never happened. I really think I need to finish the training.”

Manager #2: “We don’t think it will help you improve at this point.”

Manager #1: “We’re concerned with your performance. We need you to be up to standards that everyone else is at. If you can’t do that, you need to rethink your position here.”

I almost have a panic attack right then and there, but I manage to keep it in until the meeting is over and have an attack in the bathroom. This is also near the beginning of my shift, so I have a miserable time the rest of the day and night trying to keep it together.

I’m sure I’m going to be fired soon, so I go home and talk to my parents. They’re not much help and just say, “Keep your head up and do your work,” but in my mind, I’ve already been fired and let everyone down. I barely sleep that night and do my next two eight-hour shifts over the weekend, but I feel I’m doing so poorly that I want to walk out.

On my next day off, I seriously consider what I want to do. I haven’t been sleeping at all and when I do, I dream of being at work. I think about work when I’m off and when I’m hanging out with people. I’m obsessing over it and the fact that I’m not doing well, and it’s making my anxiety go out of control. I finally decide that, for the sake of my mental health, I have to quit. I walk into the clinic the next day with my company shirt and name tag.

Me: “[Manager #1], I’ve been considering what we’ve discussed and I’ve decided that at this time, this position is not right for me. I’d like to resign.”

She doesn’t look the least bit surprised and just takes my things and walks out. [Manager #2] walks in.

Manager #2: “So, you’re leaving us?”

Me: “Yes. I don’t think this is the best place for me right now.”

Manager #2: *Shrugs* “Well, it’s understandable. This is a really busy clinic and not everyone is suited to it.”

I wanted to scream “I don’t care that it’s busy! This is about you not doing your job to help me succeed!” but I bit my lip and left for good.

I heard an interesting story about the clinic later: apparently, I was hired after a previous receptionist left for another job, but once I started, she asked for her job back and returned to her normal hours. I’m pretty sure this was their way of slowly pushing me to quit because they either couldn’t afford another new receptionist or they didn’t need me. Maybe both.

My thoughts were confirmed when I saw they never relisted the position on job sites. Now I have no reference for the time I was there and it’s a huge eyesore on my resume. It’s making me reconsider if I even want to stay in the field.