I confess: perhaps my worst trait as a vet is my reluctance to return phone calls of a generic nature.

Imagine a non-desk job (I literally have no desk) where you’re on your feet all day attempting to attend to appointments and hospitalized patients in a timely manner. In the hallway is a lucite message cubby where I can see exactly how many telephone messages are piling up as I try to keep up with what I [perhaps misguidedly] view as my “real” work. At what point and at what location in this tiny hospital am I meant to attend to these little pieces of “non-real” work, I often wonder.

So when I finally catch a break I force myself to collect said bits of paper and find a corner in which to commiserate with myself over their wretched existence.

Mrs. Alvarez wants Mandy’s prescription refilled. (So why did the receptionist not undertake this task herself?—it’s clearly refillable.)

Mr. Unger wants to have another talk about Fluffy’s impending hairlessness. (But he never wants to come in so I can actually see the creature and whenever he does—because shots are due or some other such mandatory thing—he refuses to authorize any diagnostics for the skin. Still—he wants to take up my free time at no charge to discuss it—at length.)

Mrs. Miller’s daughter has called to talk about getting a new puppy. (Great—this is likely to be a twenty-minute long ordeal in which she repeatedly requests my advice, after which I’ll expect to see her with a pet store purchase in complete defiance of my free consult.)

Mr. Romero has called again(!!), the message emphatically states, to talk about adjusting his kitty’s dose of insulin. (I’ve already returned his call twice, via receptionist, explaining that any necessary adjustment cannot be made without a visit and labwork.(!!)

Mrs. Chrisos has called to see what can be done for her Pookie’s three-day-long bout of diarrhea. (The four-pound Chihuahua is likely to have long since dessicated—she should have been here three days ago.)

Mr. Valero called wanting to know whether he should have Sarah’s new bump removed. (I don’t know. I’m a vet, not Miss Cleo.)

And so it goes…

Labwork report and followup phone calls are another story. These calls I consider of primary importance. After all, these are relevant to my actual work. But the majority? They fall under another category altogether: Irrelevant, inefficient and annoying.

Still, I call everyone back…eventually. Maybe if they emailed me I wouldn’t mind at all. Hmmm…now that’s an idea.