The glamour of this veterinarian's day job (not!)
Once upon a time (when I worked on South Beach) I might have been able to say that being a veterinarian was somewhat glamorous (as it seems too many people believe).
TV news stations filmed me for occasional segments on tasty topics like skin disease in the summer and gastrointestinal upset at Christmastime. Once, I had Miami’s most famous family in entertainment film me as I delivered ten healthy bulldog pups by C-section. I even had the distinct pleasure of firing a high-profile, bad-boy, Kennedy-clan client. Now, if that’s not a glancing blow at glamour, I don’t know what is.
Now that I practice in South Miami, far, far away from the clients that throw their Yorkies out of Bentley windows so they can get to their $400-a-snip hairdresser on time, I’m feeling a whole lot less fabulous.
While I used to be able to practice in jeans (as long as they were of the $300 variety) and high heels (Prada, please!), I’ve now turned my volume down to suburban standards. OK, so I still wear heels (and maybe Levi’s on Saturdays), but here’s a perfectly American irony for you:
In perhaps the only practice in the world a vet gets more respect when she wears denim, I never had—even once—to lift a manicured finger for anything less professional than a scalpel or stethoscope. Here in the ‘burbs, where a vet gets more respect in Ann Taylor flats and slacks, I push mops, scoop poop and wipe down cages like everyone else—albeit less often than the kennel help, admittedly.
Make-up? Coif? Pedicure? Manicure? Jewelry? Massage? Facial? Laser? Wax? It’s been months, dahling. For starters, I can’t afford it anymore. Long gone are the hairdresser-to-the-stars clients who loved to treat their favorite vet to a cut valued at more than a car payment. No more is the spa a stone’s throw from the hospital for lunch-hour treatments.
And, most damning of all, I said “buh-bye” to the income that came with the too-white smiles of the private jet-set—the very income that paid for the Bal Harbor wardrobe, the personal trainers, yachting weekends, and my then-immaculate grooming.
It’s been a tough lifestyle transition. After all, it’s way too easy to feel as if you deserve every bit of your spoiled, glamour-girl existence. “Because I’m worth it” is a Madison Avenue construction that has no place in a veterinarian’s positive self-image—whether she can pay for it or not. But it’s not easy to turn your entire life around on a dime, either.
So now I get to the real point of my post (in case you were wondering if there’d be one): Working in a more traditional vet medicine setting has been good for me, as I think it is for other women in the profession. Here, I’m no longer queen bee, but rather, a glorified drone who needs no high-end adornment to feel successful.
Somehow (perhaps not surprisingly), work feels more real now that I pick up s--- on a daily basis and, more to the point, now that the money I make is tied to the things I really need. In this new world order, luxury actually feels like a treat and not a mandatory part of my daily maintenance. (The now-rare massage is like heaven.)
I’m not sad to lose the routine, now that I’ve taken to home-based exercise and DIY brow tweezing in lieu of the J Sisters’ ministrations. Rock stars peeing in waiting room potted plants? I can lose that, too. (Sadly, that’s a true story.)
And I’m similarly pleased as to my gains. Shoveling crap? I’m OK with that. No desk and cramped, forty-year-old quarters? I can handle it. Ultimately, humility is a good thing for vets—and for everyone else, too.
So why is it that, somehow, I still long for my Prada platforms?