Clients Comment on the Funniest Things
This may sound strange, but it is sometimes slightly surreal to suddenly be made aware that clients are people, just like me. When I’m treating someone’s animal, be it a pony or a bull, I’m often focused mostly on the animal and only peripherally aware of the owner’s immediate reactions and responses to the current situation. Therefore, when a client innocently makes an off-hand comment regarding something I said on the phone a month ago, or a joke I made a year ago, or how I slipped in the mud the last time I was here and wasn’t that so funny, it reminds me that there is always more going on than what appears in front of my eyes.
Take the following scenario from a while back. I was castrating two miniature donkeys at one of my most favorite client’s barn. I love visiting this couple because firstly they are about as nice a couple as you will ever find, and secondly because they raise mini donkeys and who couldn’t love that?
As I was cleaning up from the surgeries, we were reminiscing about the last time I visited their farm, which was a particularly sad memory, as I had euthanized one of their elderly burros. I was trying to recall the time of year when this happened, when the client assured me it was last St. Patrick’s Day because I was wearing green earrings. I was taken aback by this comment, touched that she even noticed this seemingly insignificant detail of my otherwise banal wardrobe, and I nodded, remembering then perfectly that it was indeed St. Patty’s Day and I was wearing those earrings, and it was rainy and gray, and a generally depressing day altogether.
Another example of a client’s seemingly random attention to select details involves a dairy client. The father and owner of the dairy is elderly and has trouble getting around, but he’s still out there every day, milking and feeding and cleaning, and when I get called in he’s there ready to help.
The first few visits for me at this dairy were somewhat stilted, as they waited for me to prove my worth as a vet to them, since I was, after all, the “new girl” at the time. Then, after a few surgeries and treatments of sick cows, things became more congenial between all of us. Soon the elderly gentleman was commenting on my hair length: whether it was shorter than last time, or longer, or in a ponytail, or isn’t it time for me to get a haircut? It morphed into a sort of running gag after a while, but I always thought it interesting that my adventures at the salon would be a topic of discussion while placing an IV in a Holstein.
Lastly, my middle finger was smashed between a cow’s hipbone and a metal pole a while back, leaving me in a grumpy mood with a hideous black fingernail. Anyone who has ever had a black nail knows that it takes forever to grow out and in the meantime, it sticks out like, well, a sore thumb. Needless to say, I soon started painting my fingernails in order to conceal my injury, since every single darn client started commenting about my darn black fingernail and frankly, I was getting sick of telling the story.
On the other hand, on a day when I do something I think is really obvious, like wash my truck, wear a brand new pair of sparkling clean coveralls, or change my notations on the invoice, do you think this ever receives comments? Of course not!
Dr. Anna O'Brien