Today, I saw a very cute little dog who was in for suture removal after an orthopedic procedure. I saw the pet a couple of months ago, diagnosed the problem, and referred him to my boss for the repair. The dog was doing great, and the owners were thrilled.
They were chatting with the tech, to whom they have become quite attached over the past month, when the owner reached into her purse and pulled out 2 very beautiful handmade cards.
“This is for you,” she said, presenting one to my tech. She handed the other one to me. “Would you mind giving this to Dr. Boss?”
Relegated to the role of mailman, I sadly put the card in my boss’s box and tried not to take it too personally. I haven’t kept exact counts, but I deeply suspect his gift and card pile is many miles higher than mine. I can’t figure out if I don’t hint enough, or if I just don’t inspire adulation the way others do.
It was like this in vet school too. My friend Dan, who now heads a prestigious department at a top veterinary school, was always getting stuff from clients. Cards, books, candy, casseroles from sweet grandmas and chardonnay from entrepreneurial cougars. Schwag galore. One doc I worked with at the emergency hospital got chocolates on a weekly basis, year-round- and he was on the Atkins diet so he didn’t even eat them.
Maybe I notice it more because I am myself the type who doles out the goods on a regular basis. When I had my kids, I brought cookies to the L&D staff at the hospital and sent a Mrs. Fields basket to my OB’s office. I sent thank you cards to bosses when I left their employ and to inspiring teachers in school. I always try to recognize people who have made a difference.
So to sit on the receiving end and and get, well, zip, pains me- not because I need brownies (I don’t), but because it makes me wonder if I’m somehow not living up to standards consistent with recognition. Am I doing something wrong? Or do I simply attract a clientele that shows their affection in other ways- like, say, continuing to come back with their pets?
I hope I am putting too much stock in the importance of card-receiving in determining my self-worth because that is how I myself express approval. Maybe there are other intangible things I am missing. Maybe the fact that all three of the vets getting inundated with gifts were single men says more about the situation than my own failures.
So tell me: how often do you give your vet (or MD, or teacher, or whoever) tokens of recognition? In this day and age should I just hope I get decent Yelp reviews and leave it at that?