Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An awkward encounter

As has been previously mentioned, veterinarians are people too (shocking, I know). However, much like young children who seem shocked and amazed when they find out that their teacher doesn't actually live at the school, so do the clients often seem, if not shocked, then at least surprised to see their veterinarian outside of the clinic, doing something as mundane as purchasing groceries, getting the car fixed, visiting the pediatrician's office, or even (gasp) standing in line at the post office.

That's cool. I mean, seeing as how I'm a person, I know how it can feel like a nice pleasant surprise to run into my physician,  pediatrician, or clarinet teacher, or whatever other professional type person I've had a pleasant ongoing relationship with somewhere other than his or her office or school. You want to say hello, maybe crack a joke, share a smile - it's all good. Sometimes, though, these encounters go horribly wrong. Last week, I had one of those.

I was at a house of worship, speaking to the administrative office staff there at a time when no services were being held, but some educational classes for children were in session. One of the teachers was planning a teaching module about how helping animals is a charitable act, or something like that, and she had asked me to drop by. So I was standing there in the office chatting with this nice lady at the desk when another woman walked in, looking vaguely familiar. She said hello to the lady at the desk and then she did a double take at me and said "DOCTOR VBB! What are you doing here?"

I said "well, I'm here to meet Ms. Kidwrangler to go over a lesson plan, actually. How are you doing?" She said to me, "oh, it's so kind of you to ask, I'm doing just fine" and then leaned over the desk and said to the receptionist, "remember how I was so depressed after Dingo passed away? Well, Dr. VBB here is the one that killed him! Whattya know?"

Of course a whole bunch of people were walking into the office just at that time.

There was an awkward silence that seemed to last forever, before my client realized what she'd said, and cleared my name, explaining that she'd brought Dingo to see me for euthanasia, after a long illness during which I'd cared for him quite well.

I'm not sure any of those people will ever look me in the eye again, though.


  1. I really hate these encounters because I NEVER remember the clients name! Very embarrassing! Sometimes I can't even remember the animals name but that is always more likely. It's even worse when I ask about a pet that we put to sleep - doh!

  2. Working in ER, I am at a loss if I see someone at a store, etc who brought their pet into our ER. The high volume makes remembering people's names impossible for me. It's even worse when there were 6 people with the pet as I'm trying to remember their faces, if I see them again.

  3. One of our techs ran into a client and asked about a pet we had put to sleep. I ran into a client at McDonalds and she proceeded to tell me about how her pet was doing. Naturally I did not remember her although apparently I had seen the cat yesterday. Oops.

  4. If I can remember the pet''s name, I figure that's most important! And I don't feel too bad about apologizing, "I'm sorry, I have a hard time remembering names out of context." And then when they tell me, I say, "Oh, of COURSE!"

  5. This sort of thing is why I've been commuting 2 hours away from home to work for 25 years. I may have to spend the night out of town once a week but I can go to the grocery store without having to discuss Fluffy's medical maladies in the frozen food section.

  6. "Put out of his misery", PLEASE. Not killed!

  7. Christmas emergency call: We were setting up the Christmas tree and our dog ate a string of lights! What should we do?!
    Response: Well don't plug them in...