No such thing as a stupid question?

No such thing as a stupid question?

Mark Down might just surprise you
Oct 01, 2008

Michael A. Obenski, VMD
I have heard some people say there is no such thing as a stupid question.

It would only take an hour or so in my office for them to realize the error of their thinking.

Yesterday morning alone, I fielded six ridiculous questions, all via telephone calls from the same client, Mr. Down.

"Good morning, Doc," he sang. "Mark Down here. I can't believe what your receptionist just told me. She must be mistaken. According to her, if you spay my new puppies, I will be charged full price for each of them."

Without going into technical terms, I attempted to point out that two dogs undergoing two operations warranted two fees.

The concept shot over his head.

"Do you mean to say that you people would actually charge me double just because there are two of them? It seems to me that you vets have a pretty sweet racket going on there. Isn't it true that it doesn't cost you anything to do surgery? Once your instruments and things are all set up for the first spay, the second one doesn't cost you anything but a little time."

By my count, Mark Down delivered two sickly observations and two stupid questions in a matter of 20 seconds.

Once again, I disappointed him by quoting the same formula previously outlined (2 dogs = 2 operations = 2 fees).

Twenty minutes later, he was back on the telephone.

"You know, Doc, car dealers give a fleet discount if you buy several cars at the same time. Why don't you give me the names of a few of your clients who have puppies? I could call them all, and we could have all the dogs spayed on the same day. That way you could give us a group discount."

I worded the formula a slightly different way (10=10=10).

The next call followed almost immediately.

"Sorry to bother you again so soon, Doctor, but I just had a great idea. My daughter loves animals. In fact, she wants to be a vet. She is just going on 9 years old, but is very mature for her age. Maybe she could volunteer at your hospital. Then you could give us an employee discount."

Even as I disappointed him again, it was obvious that he was already working on another plan.

Sure enough, Stupid Question No. 5 put a whole new spin on the matter.

"You veterinarians are supposed to care about the welfare of your patients. Well, I heard that older dogs can get something called a "pie-o-meter" if they haven't been spayed. Shouldn't you want to operate at or below cost in order to prevent that problem?"

(Some people would rate apple or cherry at the top of their pie-o-meter; I prefer blueberry.)

I barely had a chance to disagree when he hit me with the second part of the question.

"Besides, Doc, dogs that aren't spayed have puppies, and that adds to the overpopulation problem. You should be spaying dogs free for the good of the community."

He was forcing me into a lose-lose situation. Either I would wind up with an angry, disgruntled client or be forced to perform discount surgery.

On the other hand, it could be construed as a win-win situation — I would either lose a terrible client or do full-price surgeries.