Veterinary client relations: The lost art of noogies
What does the word noogie bring to your mind? Maybe you call it something different, but a noogie is that knuckle-rubbing-head thing that old men do to kids.
Noogies make me think of my grandfathers, who I called Pappaw and Popeye. I credit them for the way I see the world. They were happy men who looked for the good in the bad. They taught me that people need to be encouraged, and they gave me noogies. I grew up knowing that any stupid comment might result in a friendly scalp rub.
As a result, I have matured into a noogie giver. I think it is a lost art. People just don't give — or get — enough noogies. I often ask clients, "How long has it been since you've had a noogie?" You'd be amazed how many smiles just the mention of the word brings.It was a busy Tuesday when a young lady and her grandmother arrived at the clinic. The young lady needed to trim a few tenths of a second off of her barrel-racing time, and her horse was not performing up to snuff. My job was to find the problem.
The grandmother was a feisty lady that looked to be in her mid-70s. She had a cute remark for everything I said and was constantly making fun of the way I talked.
"How long has it been since you've had a noogie?" I asked her after one of her snide comments. A little smile brushed the corners of her lips, and I could see the caverns of her memory opening to fun times 65 or 70 years ago.
"I bet it has been 70 years," she said with an eyebrow raised and a hint of giggle in her voice.
"Well," I replied in a playful tone, "if you don't calm down, I'm going to have to give you one. After all, you are long overdue."
"No 75-year-old woman gets a noogie," she said. "That is something you do to little kids."
I looked over at her granddaughter and asked, "Have you ever seen a 75-year-old woman get a noogie?"
"No," the granddaughter replied. "But if ever there was one that needed a good noogie, it is her!"
The exam drifted on, and the grandmother continued to pick on me. I think she was baiting me to see if I actually had the fortitude to get her in a head lock and rub my knuckles over her gray hair.
Her question was answered after a particularly feisty comment. I grabbed ahold of her and rubbed on her head for a good three seconds. The sounds coming out of her mouth reminded me of the noises I used to make when Pappaw was doing the same thing to me.
Her granddaughter was laughing hard and telling me to do it again. When I let go, the old lady was red faced and grinning from ear to ear.
"You actually gave a 75-year-old woman a noogie!" she exclaimed. Then she said, "I think I'll come back next week for another one."
The granddaughter told me that I should incorporate noogies into my resume. She assured me that the number of people who had performed a noogie on a grandmother was extremely small. I love being a veterinarian.
Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.