It’s hard being the new kid on the block, no matter where you are. I find introductions to be a little forced and awkward, myself. “Hi, I’m Dr. V, I like Golden Retrievers and Diet Pepsi…” I much prefer to just jump on in and hope a normal working relationship establishes itself.
Most of the time this works. When I began at my current practice, there was the normal flurry of resistance from clients used to seeing The Other Doctor, ie, my boss. I don’t blame them. The Other Doctor is great, after all, or else I wouldn’t be working there. That being said, if you come in on Mondays, it’s me or it’s nobody. Some people come and see me, and we get along swimmingly, and some who have known The Other Doctor for years want to wait to see her. That is wonderful, and I respect that relationship. Sometimes, though, if we are dealing with a matter of urgency, those dedicated Other Doctor fans need to come in and see me anyway.
There are few clients more dedicated to The Other Doctor than Mr. Hawthorne. He sure does love The Other Doctor. No other doctor will do. Imagine his reaction when his beloved pup Angus developed a limp and needed to be seen on a Monday. Angus is adorable and sweet but maybe not the sharpest bulb in the box, and didn’t realize the importance of only getting sick on The Other Doctor’s days. Mr. Hawthorne asked hopefully if perhaps I was sick and The Other Doctor was in instead, but to no avail. Maybe she would be stopping by for lunch? No? With deep resignation, he agreed to come in and see the second string.
Having been apprised of the situation, I read through Angus’ history and resolved to do the best I could. I know no one could hold a candle to The Other Doctor, but I steeled myself to be the absolute best substitute I could and do the best limping-dog exam ever. Through the door, I heard muffled voices discussing the situation. No, The Other Doctor didn’t randomly happen to stop by while Mr. Hawthorne was driving over. Yes, we were sure. Yes, the new doctor knows what she is doing. Yes, she has a license. No, no reprimands on it.
I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, and went into the exam room. Mr. Hawthorne was pleasant enough, if somewhat distant. He told me how great The Other Doctor was and all the things she had done for Angus. He also let me know, somewhat ominously, how many other doctors had screwed things up. Angus did not have the same reservations as his owner, fortunately, and was more than happy to let me examine him. Other than his minor limp, he looked to be in great shape.
I finished my exam under the watchful eye of Mr. Hawthorne, and as I started to stand from my position on the floor where I was examining Angus’ foot, Angus decided to go for broke. He lunged at me for one last slobbery kiss, and in the process hooked his paw on the front of my shirt. He came crashing to the floor with the weight of his body dragging my neckline to outer limits never meant for thread nor eye. Thank goodness for polyester blends, my friends; it took one quick moment to remove his paw from my navel and my shirt snapped back to its proper position, but that one quick moment felt like an eternity.
I looked up, and poor Mr. Hawthorne was just sitting there with a completely blank expression. There wasn’t much to say, really, so I said all I could in that situation. “Well, that one was free….but next time I have to charge you.”
We finished talking about Angus, came up with a plan, and that was that.
The receptionist who checked Mr. Hawthorne out informed me that he was in a surprisingly good mood when he left as compared to when he arrived. “That new vet is all right,” he said. The highest of compliments.
I haven’t repeated that particular route to win over any other new clients, preferring a more traditional approach of small talk and good medicine, but you can’t argue with results. That being said, I am writing this blog completely clothed. Hi. I’m Dr. V. I do like Goldens and Diet Pepsi, among other things, but I think we’ll probably let you figure out the rest as we go along.