Not long ago, I found myself in a veterinary waiting room among lots of other veterinary clients. For once, I was getting a taste of my own medicine while waiting for a neurologist to see my dog.

While waiting in the lobby area with all the creatures and their caretakers, I felt sort of like a fly on the wall at my own place of work. Far from feeling put out (how dare they make me wait!), I enjoyed the experience immensely.

In fact, it was so liberating to sit in the lobby with everyone else that I almost got into it with one of the more annoying clients.

Among other impressive findings from the other side of the reception desk, I saw how rude some people can be to the poor beleaguered front-desk veterinary staff — and how it looks to the well-behaved clients.

In the forty-five minutes I waited (well worth it), I saw two clients park in the handicapped parking spots (no visible sign of handicap permit, of course). One arrived without an appointment — expecting surgery, no less. They accommodated him when he said it was an "emergency."

The other "handicap" parker complained bitterly that he had to wait, since there was no way he would hold his cat in a waiting room with five dogs. "My cat is in the car because I can’t bring him in. It’s just not safe!" he said.

Turns out the cat had a large, new model SUV to play in … but no carrier. That’s when I lost control of the switch on the filter between my brain and my mouth. "But how unsafe of you to bring your cat to a veterinary hospital without a proper carrier!"

As a reward for my big mouth I got a double glare … from both him and his wife. The staff smiled sweetly and accommodated them (let them sit in a room and wait, why not?).

That’s when a sluggish large breed dog came in attached to a clueless caretaker who was unaware of her appointment time, the name of the referring veterinarian, which doctor she was supposed to see, or the dog’s condition. "It’s just a friend’s dog," she drawled, looking around the room aimlessly, apparently expecting one of us to come to her rescue.

Seeing no takers, she sat down and proceeded to speak loudly into her cell phone. Something about diapers and a medicine cabinet full of something her (absent) child needed to be taking at that exact moment. The receptionists smiled.

Freed of my immediate duties while my dog was being seen, I pulled out of my parking spot to go to a nearby lunch spot where I could whittle away the hours. It was then I saw a big old Lincoln pulling in … as it crunched unceremoniously into the bumper of a parked car in the hospital’s lot. Later, it turned out the driver hadn’t reported her transgression. Nice.

On my way out, feeling myself above the fray (now that I’d proven myself a "good" client), I clucked to myself when another cat-wielding client complained loudly about how much she had already spent on her still-sick kitty.

That was right about the time I was informed that my credit card company hadn’t deigned to accept the (thankfully discounted) amount I was being charged. The next piece of plastic I offered didn’t comply either. And since I knew the hefty amount wouldn’t work with my checking account, I did the only thing a "good" client can do … I called for backup.

Red faced with embarrassment over my financial mishap, I nonetheless chalked it up to another adventure in single motherhood. What the heck else could I do? Thankfully, the front desk staff gave me a look of mingled pity and apparently benign resignation. These people must be saints.

Dr. Patty Khuly