An outbreak of client sanity could be disastrous

An outbreak of client sanity could be disastrous

Dec 01, 2007

It was Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. Because of a raging snowstorm, appointments were being cancelled left and right. With the slow schedule, I was entertaining thoughts of enjoying a second jelly doughnut. Unfortunately, a telephone call interrupted me.

Little did I realize that I was about to walk into an ambush. No sooner did I pick up the phone than Mrs. Cannon went off.

"Just what do you people use for brains?" she asked. "I just got two postcards from you, saying that it's time for my cats' annual shots!"

I could hear her quite clearly, even with the phone now 2 feet from my left ear. In fact, everyone in the building could hear.

"My cats never go outside! I know you said they should get shots anyway, but why must you send these stupid cards? This makes me mad!"

Why was she so upset about the cards? Had we made a mistake? Were the cats not due for their annual visit? Wisely, my receptionist pulled the records and handed them to me during the call. I could see they were correct. Her cats, Cloak and Dagger, always were seen in February. My questions were answered as the "tele-assault" continued.

"I don't like strangers knowing all about my private business," Mrs. Cannon fired off. "Now, thanks to you and your postcards, the mailman probably knows when my cats go to the vet. Didn't you people ever hear of identify theft? I saw a story about it on television. Someone's identity was stolen, and it took them years to straighten out the mess. I don't want that happening to my cats!"

I didn't know what to say, which was just as well because she hung up before I could utter a word. Meanwhile, my office manager was standing by to tell me that my doughtnut would have to wait. Mrs. Seesaw had braved the snowstorm and was waiting to see me in Room 3. Her dog, Bright Eyes, was here for a suture removal. What could go wrong? (I soon found out.) She gave it to me with both barrels.

"This dog is doing great! The surgery was a miracle! I'd just like to know why you didn't do this sooner. My poor dog suffered all last year, and now, thanks to this surgery, he is like a pup again."

I pointed out that she had flatly refused the operation on three different occasions.

"Well, that's your fault, Doctor," she said. "Remember, you wouldn't give me a 100 percent guarantee. You claimed the surgery wasn't foolproof. Looks like you were wrong, doesn't it? I can't believe we waited a whole year to do this. You should have insisted on doing it earlier."

She stormed out, apparently upset over the fact that her dog's surgery went so well. Again, I was speechless. Here I was, running on just one jelly doughnut, and already I'd had two off-the-wall experiences on just one slow, snowy morning.

These are typical of the wacky things that happen to me. Why me?

I have written hundreds of columns over 30 years and almost every one concerned strange things that happened to me personally. Will I ever run out of material? What if an epidemic of sanity strikes my clients? These thoughts led to an idea: Why not get more input from my thousands of colleagues around the country?

With that in mind, I sent out two dozen random letters to veterinary practices along the East Coast. My plan was simple. I would visit another hospital, brainstorm with the staff and together we would produce a column based on that group's experiences.

The letters went out in February (eight months ago), but so far I've had no takers.