Getting To The Meat Of The Problem

| Madison, WI, USA | Right | February 16, 2016

(I am a receptionist at a vet clinic. Sometimes I get calls from clients with… less than a full deck of cards.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Clinic]. This is [My Name] speaking; how can I help you?”

Client: “Yeah, uh, I haven’t ever been there before but my dog has been having diarrhea for, like, two weeks and I’m wondering what I should do.”

Me: “If your dog has had diarrhea for that long it could be an indication of a serious medical condition. Has he been eating and drinking normally, sir?”

Client: “Yeah, he’s drinking and he eats his meat fine.”

Me: “Meat? What kind of dog food are you feeding him?”

Client: “Well, I read online that dogs eat meat so I buy him turkey from the grocery store. He likes it better than the kibble.”

Me: “When did you make this change in his diet?”

Client: “About two weeks ago. Why?”

Very Bad Reception, Part 14

| CO, USA | Working | February 12, 2016

(My old cat is clearly unwell and is refusing to eat. I call my vet’s office as soon as it opens to make an emergency appointment. The receptionist is female.)

Receptionist: *speaking so fast it’s all slurring together* “[Vet]. Can you hold, please?”

Me: “Sure.”

(At this point, instead of hearing hold music, I hear a man’s voice start talking. I think this is the customer she was on the line with before I called, but as I’m pulling the phone away from my ear, I hear…)

Man On Phone: “But I mean I haven’t spoken to the guy in like seven years, so it’s kind of awkward, you know?”

Receptionist: “Oh, I know. Like, you know how awkward things are with my family. I haven’t talked to my sister in, like, three years and then she calls me and I’m just like, ‘what do you want…'”

(I’m holding the phone further from my ear still, trying not to eavesdrop, but I keep bringing it back to check that she’s not talking to me when I hear the female voice and this conversation keeps going for a few minutes. I’m starting to get irritated that the veterinarian’s receptionist blew off a person worried her cat could be dying to have a long, meandering conversation with what sounds like her boyfriend about something that is neither time sensitive nor an emergency. I’m finally about to speak up and embarrass them when a second receptionist picks up the line.)

Receptionist #2: “Hi, have you been helped yet?”

Me: “No… and you might want to tell your coworker how to use the hold button, because I know way more about her and her friend’s awkward family situation than I ever wanted to.”

(I don’t know yet what’s wrong with my cat, but at least the second receptionist helped me make my appointment after she finished laughing. It took all of two minutes.)

Related:
Very Bad Reception, Part 13
Very Bad Reception, Part 12
Very Bad Reception, Part 11

Your Cat Is Heartless

| NC, USA | Working | February 10, 2016

(I work part-time at a vet’s office. On this particular day, I’ve brought my extremely friendly cat in for his annual check-up after I get done with classes. The doctor is, of course, my boss, and he has quite a sense of humor.)

Doctor: *puts on stethoscope, holds it to my cat’s chest*

Doctor: *frowns and gives my cat a few firm finger-pokes to the shoulder*

Doctor: *raps the table sharply with his knuckles*

Me: “Trying to get him to stop purring?”

Doctor: “Yeah.” *takes off stethoscope* “Well, I’m just going to assume there’s a heart in there somewhere.”

Getting A Raise With Minimum Effort

| GA, USA | Working | February 4, 2016

(My first job was as “kennel help” in a small vet clinic. I made minimum wage and did everything from cleaning dog poop to assisting with surgery. One day the vet called me into his office.)

Vet: “So you’ve been here for over a year and have done a good job. I’ve decided that you deserve a raise. How does [slightly higher than minimum wage] sound?”

Me: “Really? I get a raise? Cool!”

(I was thrilled to have earned a raise, even if it was only a small one. A few days later I was hanging out with a friend and proudly told them the good news.)

Friend: “So you’re still making minimum wage?”

Me: “No. I got a raise!”

Friend: “You do know they just raised the minimum wage, right?”

Me: “…”

(I checked, and it was true. The “raise” my boss had given me was actually a mandatory raising of the minimum wage.)

The Cat’s Last Meow

| OH, USA | Right | December 30, 2015

(Our small animal clinic opens an hour before the doctor comes in, during which time our grooming appointments, boarding appointments, etc. can come in, as well as customers looking for medication or food. We also receive a few calls. Because things are usually quiet, I am the only one answering phones.)

Caller: “Hi, um, I have a cat? It’s having some trouble.”

Me: “What seems to be going on?”

Caller: “Well, is there a reason a cat wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom?”

Me: “Is he having trouble urinating or defecating?”

Caller: “I’m not sure; he’s straining in the litter box.”

Me: “Well, potty problems can be caused by a lot of things in cats. If he’s not going poo, that could be constipation. If he’s not urinating, that could be something more serious, like a UTI or a urinary blockage, which would require immediate attention.”

Caller: “Can I bring him in right now?”

Me: “Unfortunately, we do not have a doctor here right now. If you do feel this is an emergency, I would recommend Local Emergency Vet #1 or Local Emergency Vet #2. Would you like either of their numbers?”

Caller: “Well, he’s actually a pretty old cat, and I don’t want to spend that kind of money. Can I just bring him in and you look at him?”

Me: “I am not licensed to practice veterinary medicine, ma’am. I’m afraid only a vet can provide medical advice.”

Caller: “Well, I’m not going to have any time later today. Do you have any appointments tomorrow?”

Me: *wondering if she’s heard the part where I said this is definitely an emergency* “Yes?”

(We make the appointment, and she asks to make a grooming appointment for her cat immediately following his examination, which I reluctantly book.)

Me: “And again, if he continues showing signs of pain, do consider calling back or taking him to an emergency vet.”

(The cat did make it to the appointment the next day — by a thread. The vet ended up referring him to the emergency vet for surgical intervention, which they cheerfully accepted.)

Caller: “Nah, he’s old. If he can’t tough it out, he’s had a good life!”

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