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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Veterinary Vexations

So, I need a little help here.

As you may — or may not — recall, my dog has lymphoma.

That’s not the bit I need help with. I certainly don’t expect everyone reading this site to be practicing and expert veterinary oncologists.

This time.

Rather, I need a bit of advice on dealing with the staff at the local animal hospitorium. The front desk ladies, specifically, because they’re killing me. Which is their prerogative, I suppose, since they’re not committed to the well-being of human visitors. Just my luck to tangle with receptionists whose Hippocratic oath only applies to tabby cats and stray shih tzus. Super.

“Just my luck to tangle with receptionists whose Hippocratic oath only applies to tabby cats and stray shih tzus. Super.”

Anyway, the way they’re killing me is this: every week, for each of the last sixteen weeks, I’ve wrangled my plucky mutt to the animal clinic for some doggy chemo care. Every week, they ask for my name, which is reasonable. Every week, they ask for my pet’s name — which I suppose is necessary, should the crazy cat ladies around the neighborhood start hauling in new kitties every other Tuesday. So while it’s tedious to give them the same old boring name every time, they get a pass for asking.

But then, every single stupid week, at the beginning of every visit, they ask:

And are you still at <my address for the past five years>. And is your phone number still <the only phone number I’ve had this millennium>?

Mind you, there are only three or four ladies working the desk at this particular facility. It’s fairly large, by animal hospital standards, but it’s not that big. We’re not talking about the Meow-o Clinic here; I see these same women over and over and over, every trip. And I understand that they see an awful lot of under-the-weathered-animal owners — but they also ask the questions after they’ve pulled up my dog’s record.

So every week, they see ‘APPT. FOR WEEKLY CHEMO’ and ‘LAST VISIT: CHEMO LAST WEEK’ and ‘REMINDER: SCHEDULE NEXT APPT NEXT WEEK’. And still, they smile sweetly and stare at me and coo, “So, have you packed up your house and canceled your phone plan any time in the last hundred and twenty hours or so? No? Well, I’ll just update your record, then, thanks.

It would be different if we hadn’t stepped paw in their lobby for a few months. Or if I were leaving the dog behind and needed to be notified, rather than waiting to take her back home when she’s done. Or — seriously, or — if all of the appointment reminders and notifications the hospital leaves weren’t sent via email, which the triage troupe never asks about. After a couple of months of “No, I haven’t freaking moved since last Tuesday,” I decided to have a little fun with them.

And that’s where I need the help. I’m starting to run out of smartass replies with which to entertain myself.

Oh, sure, the first couple of times were a larf. I said that, oh yes, indeed I had happened to move, and patiently recited back the hospital’s own address and phone number as my own. For most of the receptionists, the flicker of recognition (and administrative frown following) were near immediate. One lady only caught it in the middle of asking what zip code that is, and heeeeey, just what are you trying to pull, sir?

(That’s the nice thing about being a smartass at an animal hospital; it’s your dog or cat that’s being treated. They’re not going to take it out on you, like they might at a doctor’s office, or even a restaurant. What are they gonna do — spit in my dog’s chemo cocktail? Bichon, please.)

I lay low for a few weeks, hoping the desk staff would forget which guy was the jerkbag. Sure enough, they were back to asking me the old routine questions sans stinkeye before the month was out. I took the opportunity to tell one of them, “Oooh, I’m glad you reminded me!” I explained how I was just about to move — to Nome, Alaska, as a matter of fact, and there really isn’t much veterinary coverage up there, and I really like the care my dog is getting here, so… how much postage would she think it would be to overnight a Staffordshire terrier round-trip every Wednesday? And how many holes would she suggest punching in the box? And should I insure the package for just the value of the dog, or should I include the cost of the Snausage tub I’d have to include, so the pooch didn’t go hungry?

That was a couple of weeks before Christmas. Since then, when that woman sees me coming, she glares at me and puts her ‘Next Window’ sign up in a huff. I’m pretty sure I can’t go back to that particular well again.

Still, that leaves a few hopefully-still-unsuspecting rubes ready for a ruffling. I’m just not sure quite how I want to go about it yet. I’ve thought about welling up and pouting next time one of them asks my address, so I can explain that my wife kicked me out and all I have is the dog now, and I’m moving around a bit, but that if they want to reach me, they can always come knocking on my VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!

That might be a bit much, though. Eventually somebody will sabotage my dog, just to get the hell rid of me. So I should probably find something more subtle, but still entertaining. And I only have until next Wednesday to do it. I was a good boy at the appointment today; when they asked about whether my various life details had suddenly changed, I just gritted my teeth and assured them, calmly but firmly, that they hadn’t.

But I can’t do it two weeks in a row. There’s only so much conforming to polite society that one smartass can bear. I just need to find an acceptable — yet still entertaining! — level of snark, and get it out of my system. I only hope such a thing exists.

You know, for the dog’s sake.

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “Veterinary Vexations”

  1. #Debi says:

    I have a T-shirt from Spamalot that says, “I’m not dead yet.” (I wear it occasionally just to remind myself…) Maybe you could get one made that says, “I haven’t moved yet” and wear it each time you go to the vet…

  2. shelley says:

    I like to make them recite my full address back to me, ideally multiple times:

    Customer Service Dork: What is your home address?

    Cynical: What do you have there?

    CSD: 350 blankety-blank street.

    C: Street? Did you include “street” at the end? Good. And what apartment number do you have there?

    CSD: Number 5.

    C: It’s actually 5-5Q (five dash five queue). Would you please update that for me?

    CSD: And the zip code is bingety-bongety-boo. Is that correct?

    C: No, it’s bingety-bongety-boo-plus-four.

    C: And do you have all of my phone numbers? Right. And my cell? And my office? And my cat box?

    They rarely ask me for updates after that.

  3. p00ke says:

    You can always say “by the way, did you get my insurance information from Prudential? This should all be covered”, and proceed to hand them four or five three part forms(even if it’s a library card application), take several poloroid pictures of the admittance, and have your lawyer, law enforcement at least two witnesses and a notary public present.

    Sorry about your dog, Charlie. They are the most loyal family members, and don’t give you half the grief as kids.

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