Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Strange and the Mindnumbing

I was at a meeting the other day for the front desk staff on how to please the client more. We talked about different needs of the client and looked at a poster that represented the client experience. One of the things that was on there was a representation of "Dr. Internet."

Ah, Dr. Internet, you are a bane! You are reason that people now call us up and:

1) Present a problem they think their pet is having

2) Either tell us that they are supposed to see a vet and ask what they can do at home

3) Tell us things that were suggested to do and merely want affirmation that they can do them.

4) Get angry when we won't tell them what to do with their pet over the phone because

  • We've never seen their pet
  • We don't know the true diagnosis
  • If it's a serious problem, home remedies could easily make it worse
They will sometimes offer up strange and unorthodox methods of treatment. Some are even concerning.

My coworker, Fifi, had the following dialogue:

Caller: I think my dog ate something toxic! What should I do?

Yeah, this vs. Gatorade? Gatorade, you got this, man,  you got this.
Fifi: Do you know what they ate?

Caller: He licked some antifreeze.

Fifi: We would definitely recommend you bring him in.

Caller: Would it help if I gave him Gatorade®?


I see that some vet over on a website says you can do it, but as far as counteracting a toxin? I really don't see it.

How about:

Caller: My dog ate (anything), I think I need to make him vomit.

Me: Recommend you bring him in so we can induce vomiting.

Caller: I read online that I can use hydrogen peroxide.

Me: We don't recommend that, as it can cause ulcers.

Caller: But will it work?

Me: We can't recommend that. Ideally, you would bring him in.

Here's the thing.

Why are you calling in for advice if you already know what you're going to do and don't plan on listening to anything I say except for what affirms you? Oh. I think I just answered my question. You want to feel like a good pet owner don't want to feel like a bad pet owner. I realize your ideal conversation would have gone like this:

Caller: Blah blah blah

Me: Yes, I agree!

Caller: I read on the internet I can (strange/dangerous procedure).

Me: You did research before awesome is that! Since the internet is 100% trustworthy, I would definitely go ahead with that. No reservations!

Caller: Glad I know I'm doing the right thing without having to spend $$s for a professional! (click)

I know someone who's gonna want to try redoing their own electrical wiring with possible disastrous results.

Then we have the Grand Parvo Experience. (I can see this will be a reoccurring theme here, so get used to it). This comes in several flavors.

  • Ignorance
  • Purposeful negligence with lack of understanding about possible outcomes
  • Denial
  • Rage
We've kind of touched on three of these, but we'll deal with denial now. This is a funny kind of caller. They just want to be right.

Caller: My chihuahua is vomiting and has diarrhea. He seems listless, doesn't want to eat or drink.

Me: Well, has he been fully vaccinated?

Caller: No. My mother thinks he has parvo, but I'm sure he doesn't.

Me: With the symptoms you are describing, parvo would be the first major concern.

Caller: Well, I don't think it is. (Background: It's parvo, you dumba**!) No it's not, Mother!

Me: We would recommend you get him tested.

Caller: Well, I don't think it's parvo. (click)

So, basically, Junior called me up to back him against his mother. Great strategy, my basement dwelling friend. Holding a gun to a fortune-teller's head to make her tell you a different fortune is also a great way to change the future. After all, a conversation going:

Caller: No, no! Say it's not so!

Me: It be not so.

Caller: My God, he's stopped leaking from both ends! Thank you, fairy dogmother! totally feasible.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Caring, or (No) Lack Thereof

Today, I'm going to educate you, the masses, on a theme that appears quite a bit, especially in an emergency setting. I can usually tell that a conversation is going to have this theme when I hear the following buzz words:

really adorable
so nice
the sweetest little thing
rescued her
can't pay now
have no money

They may possibly be arranged in a quickly spoken paragraph resembling the following:

Last week I rescued these two really adorable, cute chihuahua puppies. They are the sweetest little things, but now they are vomiting and I have no money, so I can't pay you now!

The part about no money is usually said a touch aggressively, as if challenging us to say no, daring us.

If the CareCredit thing won't work out, it really leaves me without options. It's a sad fact of the world that money is required for services. At a vet, it's not like in the human medical field where they are somehow obligated to provide service (check me on that, ppl with the knowledge?). At a vet, whether or not you feel that Fluffy is a true member of the family, a child in every sense but the human DNA sequence, we are not obligated to provide service merely because Fluffy is ill.

Even more so, I am not the one providing the service. That is the doctor. The doctor who has spent years of their life and 100k on schooling, putting themselves in debt for years, and hospital supplies which would then come out of a paycheck. The only way they would do anything is if I LIED to them and told them payment had gone through.

It is not as you seem to think. That I took this job solely to sabotage your pet's health.

So when you call with the following, understand that I may be less than sympathetic.

Me: Vet Hospital, this is Redgirl.

Her: (insert sad statement about a chihuahua puppy)!

Me: It does sound like you should come in if you can. It is $138 to be seen on emergency.

Her: One-thirty-eight?!  Can't you guys bill me or something? Do a promissory note?

Me: I'm sorry. We take payment up front.

Her: So if I can't pay, you're just going to let my dog DIE?!

Okay, I'm sorry. I feel for your dog, but it's really your lack of financial planning that is going to let your dog die, if that's what ends up happening. Owning an animal is a big responsibility, not just the food you buy it. They are like having a child, and you have to plan ahead. 

Me: I'm sorry.

Her: All you people care about is money!

Me: Oh, have you found a power company that accepts smiles and good will in exchange for products and services? I didn't know there were any out there! (Well, that's what I wished I could have said. Sorry, things cost money. Actually, I just stayed quiet.)

Her: You guys are all just f**king pieces of sh**!

Me: (Silence. Really, what could I say?)

Her: You know what? F**k you!


There was a group of employees chatting at the front desk. I walked over to them and said, "Just so you guys know, we're ALL f**king pieces of sh**."

Then they made me tell them the story.

See, when you abuse someone for something they can't do anything about anyway, you're really just sucking any sympathy and goodwill I might have towards you, not even making me wish I could do something to help you. When you yell and curse at me for your own lack of preparedness, you're really just creating a story I tell my colleagues.

You're really just writing my blog for me.

So by all means, carry on.